Eleven trailblazing entrepreneurs from all over North East England were heralded as the region’s best businesswomen at a prestigious awards ceremony held at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead.

One of the winners at the annual North East Business Woman of the Year Awards (WIN Awards) was Allison Raper of Barnard Castle-based Teesdale Cheesemakers who won the NatWest Best New Business Award.

She said: “I thought about entering these awards 15 years ago but someone put me off so I didn’t do it.  My Teesdale Cheesemakers business is now in its second year, doing very well and I thought I am going to enter.  I am speechless and overwhelmed with pleasure to have won.  This seems like it’s my time. Winning has re-inspired me with my brand and I feel like the sky is the limit. Watch this space!”

Nickie Gott, She’s Gott It Events, who organise the awards and chair, North East England Chamber of Commerce Women’s Advisory Group said: “This is the 18th year of our awards and the standard of entries was even higher than ever.  We have an outstanding range of winners who have shown such determination to succeed, with great results.  These awards are a perfect opportunity to showcase their achievements as there is still a need for women to show the world what they can do in business, to inspire new female entrepreneurs.”

Joanna Feeley of Trend Bible, won the Susan Dobson Memorial Award.  Joanna had 18 years’ experience as a trend forecaster and brand strategist with major High Street retailers including Tesco before launching her own business.  Based in Newcastle upon Tyne her company has grown substantially in recent years with clients including Bloomingdales and TK Maxx.

At the awards evening, attended by 300 people, the Newcastle High School for Girls Woman in STEM Award was won by Gill Rice, for her success with her Prudhoe-based company Tyne Valley Plastics.

Other businesswomen who took top honours were Michaela Reaney of Newcastle business Gradvert, who won the Best Small Business Award, sponsored by Tees Valley Combined Authority.

Further awards were given to Rachel Lumley and Kathryn Meadows, Katies Garden, Virgin Money for the Best Practice category, Sheridan Mordew, for Shape up with Sher, in the Rising Star Award and Lizzy Hodcroft of The Sweet Beet UK, who won Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Lynsey Wilson, Virgin Money scooped the Leadership Award, Jemma Morland of EMG Solicitors won the One to Watch category and Janet Maitland of Janet Maitland Hair Excellence won the Inspire Me Award.