Achievement and skills praised at awards.
The winners of the 11th Annual Wo m en Into the Network (WIN) Awards were revealed at a ceremony in the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead Hotel.
The prestigious Susan Dobson Award for Entrepreneurship was picked up by Lilian Mains, chair of North East training business Zodiac Training, which has fast become a national provider of specialist courses and consultancy for employers. The company has grown rapidly as firms look to beat the downturn by increasing the skills of their staff. It is increasing its 200-strong workforce all the time as it grows into a national business and heads for a turnover of pounds 10m over the next year.
The Durham County Councilsponsored small business category was picked up by Angela Place, founder of Seaham-based hair and beauty business Hair X Tensions.
The judges cited the impressive way in which she has quickly grown her online firm and her vision for the future - which involves building an international presence and creating jobs - as key to her award victory.
The Best New Business category, backed by Business Link, was won by Jo Foster, who runs Northumberland-based flowers, chocolate and wine business Dillies.
Foster was recognised for her boldness in starting a business in the recession and, according to the judges, sets an example of how personal service can give you the edge on mainstream retailers.
Cathi Harrison, founder of Para-Sols, was hailed for her bravery in sacrificing a job during a recession to go it alone as she was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year, sponsored by Gateshead Council.
WIN chair Nickie Gott, who runs events management company She's Gott It!, said: "The standard of entry this year was extremely high and of course, there were many difficult decisions to make in selecting the winners."
The awards were sponsored by The Susan Dobson Memorial Fund, Business Link, SpaceCraft, North East Social Enterprise Partnership, Durham County Council, Once upon a Tyne Productions, Barbour and Gateshead Council.
THE WINNERS Best New Business: Jo Foster, Dillies Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Cathi Harrison, Para-Sols Best Small Business: Angela Place, Hair X Tensions Ltd Best Retail Business: Susan Routledge, Finishing Touch Health & Beauty Clinic Best Creative Business: Joanna Feeley, Trend Bible Best Home-based Business: Rachel Poad, Rachel Poad Interiors Best Use of Technology: Alison Taylor, Food Local Food Best Rural Business: Amynta Ward-Aldam, Tulip and Nettle Best Social Enterprise: Deloris Martin, Sunderland Dance CIC The Susan Dobson Award for Entrepreneurs hip: Lilian Mains, Zodiac Training
CONSULTANCY SUCCESS Lilian Mains DIFFICULT DECISIONS WIN chair Nickie Gott