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Two disabled entrepreneurs win 2011 Stelios Award

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Rob Smith, 36, who has a spinal injury and uses a wheelchair, and Huw Thomas, 64, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, are the joint winners.

The Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs in the UK is a competition set up by easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. The award is run in association with the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation and the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability. It has been running for five years and recognises the tough challenges faced by disabled entrepreneurs.

As winners, Rob Smith and Huw Thomas will benefit from £50,000 each to grow their business.

Rob Smith’s business, The Active Hands Company, designs, manufactures and sells gripping aids that allow disabled people with limited hand function to grip a wide variety of items.

Huw Thomas’s business, Promove UK, designs, manufactures and supplies specialist slings used to rescue, evacuate and transfer sick, injured, disabled or incapacitated people.

“I would like to congratulate Rob and Hew on running successful businesses and displaying the drive, creativity and determination to reach the top and really fly,” says Stelios. “The prize they have both received will ensure their businesses have an important boost for growth. Today, they join our community of entrepreneurs who are making a difference.”

The two winners will also benefit from specialist support via the Stelios Scholar Reach-out Programme.

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