“I would like to congratulate Mohammad for reaching the shortlist of this year’s award, it is not an easy task to be nominated because there was stiff competition. I have been impressed by Mohammad and all short listed entrepreneurs and will look forward to awarding the prize to the winner and seeing how they use it to grow their business.”
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou
I spent a wonderful afternoon today with Sir Stelios, the Leonard Cheshire Disability team, and the two other finalists for The Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs. The winner will be announced at the Confederation of British Industry’s Growing Business Awards ceremony on November 26th. It was awesome meeting Stelios, the wealthy founder of scores of businesses, including the easyJet airline. And I also got to chat to John and Roy, and hear their stories.
John Edward Pickup founded Amputees in Action, an agency for actors with amputated limbs. As a fan of the TV show Extras, it was amusing for me to read his web site’s story of how he started the company. “Ever seen that Ricky Gervais programme ‘Extras’? Well it can be like that, but it’s like anything in life it is what you make of it; you can have fun and enjoy the whole experience or have a grumpy day and no one wants to talk to you. There is no reason not to have lots of fun, feel honoured to be invited to take part in any production and it is a good way of meeting so many interesting people.”
John is witty in real life but he also impressed me with the training he and his fellow actors give to doctors in the military. They take pride in recreating the stress of battle-field injuries, adding unpredictable complications and keeping the doctors guessing under pressure as they race to try and “save” the actor’s life. The doctors love the realism, and the soldiers in battle reap the benefits of care by these highly trained clinicians.
James Royston Tansley founded Pro-Shift Technologies, which makes equipment for motorcycle racing. He built the company after two separate accidents meant that he damaged his back, and then his leg. I am amazed by what he did next: start modifying his bike so that he could drive it using only one leg. That we he could carry on taking part in international competitions.
In the beginning he had to petition to be allowed to participate in the competition. But Roy is persistent and eventually the organizers allowed him and other amputees to race. When he started winning, his competitors paid attention. And then they paid to buy his inventions. Roy now had a business. As his web sites says:
Pro-Shift and World Champions have long been a winning combination. When World Sidecar Champions Steve Abbott and Jamie Biggs won their title in 2002 it was Pro-Shift that gave them the edge. Steve explains “We needed a boost to our World Championship Campaign and the Pro-Shift provided us with that bit extra”.