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Deborah Stone a winner of last year’s awards
Deborah Stone (Gigglebucket Gift shop, Liverpool) was among the winners of last year’s awards

THE MOST inspirational business men and women have until Friday July 23 to enter the annual Barclays Trading Places Awards.

Enterprising individuals who have beaten the odds to turn their business dreams into a reality have two weeks left to tell the judges their story – and why they should win a share of the £50,000 prize package.

For the first time, the public can also nominate someone they know who deserves national recognition for overcoming adversity to run their own business – for example, a member of their family or even their boss.

Previous finalists have included Bradley Stewart, who was left paralysed after a car crash and went on to set-up a mobile disco business; Tracy Mackness, who studied farming whilst in prison and now runs a successful pig breeding company; and husband and wife team Kevin and Nikki Sweet, who beat redundancy and long-term unemployment to start a new life in the Welsh countryside as cider makers.

Steve Cooper, chair of the judging panel and managing director, Barclays Business, said: “Trading Places is a celebration of men and women who, in spite of great personal challenges, have taken steps to establish a sustainable business and in doing so changed the direction of their lives for the better.

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to recognise their achievements whilst highlighting an increasingly important sector of the business community – whether they are sole traders or small businesses that together underpin our economy.”

Helping to launch the 2010 awards Mark Prisk, Minister for Business and Enterprise, said:

“These awards are a great opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of people who have set up their own business in difficult circumstances.

“The Government is committed to helping make the next decade the most enterprising in history. The Trading Places entrants are an inspiration to everyone and embody the best of the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit. I would like to congratulate all those involved and wish you the greatest success for the future.”

Everyone entering the awards will have access to a range of business support packages featuring specialist advice and expert mentoring.

Barclays will present the overall winner with a cheque for £10,000, and the runner-up with £5,000 for their business, at a prestigious black-tie gala dinner at The Savoy in London on Tuesday November 30 to be attended by more than 300 VIP guests.

This year there is also a special award and a cheque for £3,500, courtesy of Barclays, for the Trading Places finalist whose business is helping local people by putting something back into the community.

Awards supporters Microsoft and Yell will also be offering tailor-made packages for the 10 national finalists, including the latest business software and special multi-media advertising packages.

Other awards partners include youth charity The Prince’s Trust, Leonard Cheshire Disability, the NFEA, Crisis, PRIME and the cdfa.

Entry forms are available in Barclays branches, by calling the awards office on 020 8673 2020 or by visiting www.barclays.co.uk/tradingplaces.