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Growing Business Awards bestow awards upon nation’s hottest SME business talent

From scrap metal dealer, through football club CEO role, to philanthropic business leader – Steve Jackson capped a remarkable career by being named Entrepreneur of the Year at the Real Business Growing Business Awards.
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Having gone up against a competitive shortlist including The Gym Group founder John Treharne and Gavin Johnstone of Hunter Healthcare, Jackson convinced the judges that his career and most recent work in starting and building Recycling Lives was enough to take home the accolade.

He started at 16 on his farther’s scrap metal yards in Preston, and then went on to embrace the early years of the internet by setting up a commercial name broker – becoming what he describes as the owner of the most prolific private collection of domains in the UK.

After a spell as CEO of football club Preston North End, Jackson most recently set up Recycling Lives. The company, now nearly a decade old, serves as the coming together of his existing recycling empire and a social welfare charity. It helps those facing homelessness through a six-stage process of work experience, training, skills development and personal support.

Also walking off with an award at the 17th annual Growing Business Awards, which were hosted by actor, comedian and writer Miles Jupp were household names such as Tangle Teezer and Charlie Bigham’s.

With 13 prizes up for grabs, the Growing Business Awards, supported by the CBI and in association with Lloyds Bank, cover a wide range of business size and demographic, as well as recognising the achievements of individuals.

Peer-to-peer finance platform Zopa, which has helped lend £1.18bn to more than 150,000 people since beginning operations in 2005, picked up Growing Business of the Year: Smaller Company (Turnover less than £25m). Taking a step up on the revenue bracket, Charlie Bingham’s scooped Growing Business of the Year: Mid-sized Company (Turnover £25-50m). The business, which produces pies currently being sold at retailers including Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, experienced incredible growth of 47 per cent year-on-year.

Picking up Growing Business of the Year: Larger Company (Turnover £50m+) was salary sacrifice provider Tusker, which announced a major new shareholder in February 2015 when ECI Partners acquired an interest in the company.

Away from businesses turning over tens of millions on pounds, the Growing Business Awards also recognised those in the earlier days of company growth. One of three new categories, Micro Business of the Year went to exciting enterprise Mobile Vet – which was set up by a husband and wife team and is set to hit 2000 clients by January 2016.

Taking up the mantle of Young Entrepreneur of the Year from last year’s popular winner Simon Mellin from Roaming Roosters was The VaioPak Group founder Joe Fogel. Rounding off the accolades for smaller businesses was Appear Here, a service which connects landlords with those looking for vacant spaces.

Hunter Ruthven, editor of Real Business, commented: “We were blown away by the quality of submissions this year. From those in the early years of business growth to those turning over millions and employing hundreds, it is clear to see that SMEs continue to be the lifeblood of the British economy.

The 17th Growing Business Awards were judged by business leaders ranging from The King of Shaves founder Will King, Graze founder Anthony Fletcher and PCA Predict’s Guy Mucklow.

Over the next week, Real Business will be interviewing the winners of this year’s Growing Business Awards – so stay tuned to hear more.

Full list of winners:

Entrepreneur of the Year – Steven Jackson, Recycling Lives

Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Joe Fogel, The VaioPak Group

Young Company of the Year – Appear Here

Growing Business of the Year: Smaller Company (Turnover less than £25 million) – Zopa

Growing Business of the Year: Mid-Sized Company (Turnover £25 – £50 million) – Charlie Bigham’s

Growing Business of the Year: Larger Company (Turnover £50 million +) – Tusker

B2B Business of the Year – NetPay Solutions Group

Micro Business of the Year – Mobile Vet

Employer of the Year – Brandwatch

Digital Champion – Easel TV

Retail Hero – Saltrock

Innovator of the Year – ClearScore

Export Champion of the Year – Tangle Teezer

A full shortlist can be found on the Growing Business Awards website.

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About Author

Zen Terrelonge

Zen Terrelonge is the former deputy editor of Real Business. His areas of interest included media, innovation, technology and the digital sector.

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