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Food, Fashion & Female Entrepreneurs - Our Day At The Chester Women In Business Awards

Thursday 30th May was far from a typical day at the office for the Fotofire team. Our very own head designer Leah was nominated for the 'Inspirational Businesswoman Of The Year' award at the Chester Women In Business Awards, and we all went along to support her at the awards ceremony!

Taking place in the beautiful surroundings of Bolesworth Castle, the annual awards ceremony celebrates the achievements of female led businesses and female businesswomen from the Chester area over the last twelve months. We've put together a rundown of the day's events for you.

Looking slightly more glamorous than usual, we arrived at the office at the normal time. There was a lot of excitement (and nerves) in the air, particularly from Leah! Unfortunately, the weather wasn't on our side, but we weren't about to let that get in the way of the day's events...

After battling our way through the mud, we arrived at the marquee where the ceremony was to take place. We were greeted by a drinks reception (plenty of Pimms!) and the sound of saxophone music. The décor of the marquee was particularly eye-catching; each table was decorated with red, white and blue feathers with glitzy chandeliers and discoballs.

Once we'd had our fair share of Pimms, it was time to sit down for a three-course meal. We were treated to a lovely dinner, with chicken, asparagus, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and white butter sauce, followed by a summer fruit pudding and toasted sponge cake. To finish, we were served tea, coffee, and chocolate truffles.

After all that food we were feeling rather full; luckily, after the meal we had plenty of time to sit back, relax and enjoy the fashion show that was held to showcase the work of up and coming Cheshire-based stores and designers. Clothes were provided by The Editeur, a boutique in Chester City Centre; shoes from Cleo B, and jewellery from Stella & Dot, whose owner Rachel Redshaw was nominated for the Best New Start-Up Business Award. The models' hair was styled by Bellissimo, whose manager Jane Bellis was nominated for the 'Inspirational Businesswoman Of The Year' award along with Leah.

The fashion show was great, but next up was the part we'd all been waiting for; the awards! We all had our fingers and toes crossed for Leah as the winners of each category were announced.

The first award was for 'Best New Start-Up Business' award, which was won by Rachel Redshaw from Stella & Dot. Next up was 'SME Woman Of The Year', which went to Roseanne Stockton from Nu-Recruit, followed by 'Professional Of The Year, which went to Rebecca Davies of the Commercial Hotel.

The next award was the big one; 'Inspirational Businesswoman Of The Year'! This was the category which had received the most nominations, so for Leah to make it to the final four was a huge achievement.

Unfortunately, Leah was not the winner of her category, but we couldn't fail to be inspired by the winner, Claire Darlington, and her amazing story. Claire overcame two open-heart surgeries and serious illness to set up her own fitness business, working with women from the Chester area to help them achieve their fitness goals. Her aim is to expand her business across the UK. A worthy winner indeed – congratulations, Claire!

Next up was 'Charity Woman Of The Year', which was won by Jules Roberts of Breakthrough Breast Cancer. The last award of the ceremony was 'Chester Businesswoman Of The Year', which was won by Kaye Whitby from SAS Daniels.

After the awards ceremony, a raffle was held to raise money for Claire House, a Wirral-based hospice which provides respite, end-of-life and bereavement care for children and young adults with complex medical needs. We're sure you'll agree that it is a truly worthwhile cause, and almost £500 was raised for the hospice during the raffle.

Due to the bad weather, the show-jumping that was scheduled to take place during the awards ceremony was called off. However, there was plenty to keep us entertained during the rest of the day, with falconry displays, a quiz and a variety of stalls across the grounds (I was disappointed, however, to find that the Ben & Jerry's ice cream stall was not open!).

All in all, we had a great day out, and it was good to see the accomplishments of so many businesswomen from the area recognised and celebrated. We're looking forward to next year's event already...

Thanks to Black Mango and Bolesworth Castle for putting on such a great event!

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