Four female entrepreneurs make the grade at the county’s Women in Business Awards

Olympian Louis Smith

The quartet are all competing in more than one category, with some of them returning after past successes.

Siobhan Stirling and Deborah Richards are both on the shortlist for Businesswoman of the Year (over five years’ operation).

Ms Stirling, director of Sharp Minds Communications, is also competing in the Employer of the Year and the Women in PR and Marketing categories.

In 2021, she won the Leadership and Management award for the second year running and was also runner-up in the PR & Marketing category and the businesswoman of the Year (over five years’ operation).

She has also won the PR & Marketing award twice and Women’s Champion award once.

“It’s an hnour to share a spot in the finals with so many other leading Kentish women, and I wish my Tunbridge Wells colleagues the best of luck on the night.” she said.

As founder and managing partner of Maddisons Residential, this is Ms Richards’ first time at the KWIBA ceremony, but she has also been nominated for the Growth Award this year.

“Even with the remaining lockdown challenges of last year, I’ve been committed to finding new ways to keep providing an excellent service for our clients,” she said.

“Being recognised for those efforts is the icing on the cake.”

The founder of the TN Card reward scheme – which covers independent businesses in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks, while raising funds for West Kent Mind – Jess Gibson has been shortlisted in the entrepreneur of the year and community champion categories.

“It’s an honour to be a finalist at the awards for a second year,” she said. “The TN Card has grown rapidly since launching in 2020, and with over 2,000 members now enjoying rewards for supporting local and industry recognition such as this, it is clear that the TN Card is making a real difference in our towns.”

In the Professional Achievement and ‘Mumpreneur’ of the Year categories is Jessica Nelson, owner of Once Upon A Wish Events, providing characters and experiences for children’s parties and events.

“I’m delighted to be on the shortlist for two awards – it makes all of the hard work worthwhile,” she said.

“It can be a handful, growing a successful business as well as being a fulltime mum, but it has let me pursue my passion of sharing magical moments with my customers across Kent.”

The KWIBA winners will be announced at the awards ceremony in Ashford on Friday, March 11. There are 20 categories this year.

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