FSB National Final!

Picture of Claire Buckle of Ability Consultancy at the FSB Awards

We were very excited to attend the Federation of Small Business’s (FSB) Celebrating Small Business Awards, UK Final in Birmingham on Thursday 18th May 2023. What we didn’t expect was to feel so inspired and emotional at the awards. Be it the effects of the post covid pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis, financial pressure on small businesses or the gut-wrenching and heart-warming personal stories shared on the day, the room was animated with compassion and support. Capturing this community feel, Martin McTague, the FSB Chair opened the event by recognising the “grit and determination of small business to survive” at this difficult economic time and applauded every one of the 144 small businesses in the room at “being a winner for the UK.”

The best of the best

Each business invited to the UK final was the winner of their category at an area level, narrowed down from a total of over 3,500 original entries. The 14 geographical regional winners (North West, Yorkshire & The Humber, North East, East Midlands West Midlands, London, South East, South West, East of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) were all eager to see who would be crowned the overall winner for the UK.  We were representing the North-West as winners of the regional Diversity & Inclusion Award. Ability Consultancy won at a regional level for our ongoing work promoting diversity in society – through our online and in-person training courses and our new virtual experience app, Xplore DisAbility – and for our work promoting inclusion in sport, workplaces and schools.

Read more about our regional win by clicking to our blog post here.

Large screen at awards ceremony with names of finalists


Celebrity Co-hosts

The awards were co-hosted by tv presenters and celebrities – Clare Balding and JJ Chalmers – which added an extra-special element to the evening. Clare is one of the country’s most recognisable sports presenters, a writer, broadcaster, and sport ambassador and was very clearly touched by the event. She stated in her closing speech that she had met some, “Amazing people, doing amazing things. The type of people that see problems and don’t run away from them – they do something about it!” This couldn’t be truer of the work of Claire Buckle, the founder of Ability Consultancy, who shares a passion for making sport accessible to all – especially for those with a disability.

JJ Chalmers too, shared his co-hosts warmth and enthusiasm and stated that it was an “utter privilege” to host. Officially known as John-James Chalmers, the Scottish television presenter, Strictly Come Dancing contestant, Invictus Games medallist and former Royal Marine, was injured in a bomb blast in Afghanistan in 2011, so knows a thing or two about resilience – a common theme mentioned throughout the awards. When presenting the award for Diversity and Inclusion, he said that the nominees, including Ability Consultancy really showcase the diversity in today’s modern businesses.

Claire Buckle of Ability Consultancy said, “Whilst we didn’t win the award, it was fabulous to share the story of our work with such like-minded sports personalities. Sport changed my life and gave me the confidence and strength (quite literally) to start my own business and tackle the issues of diversity in sport and the wider society.

Picture of Claire of Ability Consultancy and Clare Balding, sports presenterJJ Chalmers, presenter, sports personality and veteran with Claire Buckle of Ability Consultancy

The UK crowned winner of the Diversity and Inclusion Award was Be.Xcellence for their work in Wales supporting the government’s anti-racism plan. Donna Ali, the Director of BE.Xcellence CIC explains that their work is underpinned by the idea of cynefin (pronounced “ku-nev-in,” is a Welsh word that translates as “place” or “habitat”), and encourages inclusion for all citizens and visitors of Wales.”

A big congratulations to all the winners:

Micro Business of the Year:                                                     Yellow Hare, Scotland

Exporter of the Year:                                                                 Creative Nature, South East

Business & Product Innovation Award:                                Be:Loved, South East

Sustainability Award:                                                                EGO Technology Ltd, East Midlands

Larger Small Business of the Year:                                        Alt Labs, North East

Family Business of the Year:                                                   Hale Place Care Solutions, South East

Young Entrepreneur of the Year:                                           Dr Kirsty Smitten, MetalloBio Ltd

Start-Up Business of the Year:                                                ABERDAM Dutch Fries, Scotland

Service Excellence Award:                                                       Calipro Software Ltd, East Midlands

Diversity & Inclusion Award:                                                 BE. Xcellence CIC, Wales

Self-employed/Freelancer Award of the Year:                   Chris Garland Training, North West

Plus, a very special mention to the winner of the Small Business of the Year Awar winner, MetalloBio Ltd and the invaluable work carried out by founder and CEO Dr Kirsty Smitten and her team through very tragic personal circumstances. Your dedication to work and to the community is nothing short than incredible.

#Awards, #AwardWinner, #FSB, #FSBAwards, #Innovation, #Diversity, #Inclusion