Local group wins big at national awards

FAMILY-RUN businesses in and around Woking have won six out of 11 categories in national awards.

Five small companies in The Family Network (TFN) West Surrey branch came away with accolades in TFN UK National Recognition Business Awards and Dueyna Chinere, who runs the group, was named Branch Leader of the Year.

The West Surrey winners of The Family Network awards, from left to right: Melanie Hemmings, Emma Martin, Dueyna Chinere, Anna Jolley, Hannah Bruce, Serena Novelli

Dueyna said: “I am so pleased for our winners, who thoroughly deserve this recognition for the hard work and passion they put into what they do.

“We are a very supportive community so I know most of their business journeys very well and it’s been amazing watching them grow, some from day one of their business.

“Winning the Branch Leader award was the icing on the cake for myself after a challenging couple of years of growing the network in new ways through the odd times we were facing.”

Serena Novelli set up Love Thy Body Project from her home in Pirbright in 2019 to help women improve their self-confidence when she had to give up her childminding business while her husband underwent treatment for cancer.

Serena said: “Laura Bland and I are truly delighted to have had Love Thy Body Project recognised for the amazing work we are doing in the community. It was a truly magical moment to hear our name being called out.”

Melanie Hemmings set up Bare + Fair, selling refills of eco-friendly household cleaners and toiletries, after adopting eco-friendly principles at home and finding it difficult to buy refills and other products locally.

Melanie was named the Sustainability Hero at the inaugural CREST21 Business Awards, launched by the News & Mail in association with the University of Surrey.

She said: “Being connected to the local business community and groups like The Family Network has given me courage to take leaps of faith and sometimes just to keep going over what has been a year full of challenges.

“It was great to celebrate everyone’s successes together; often as a business owner you only see what you haven’t done and it’s so important to take a moment to look back and see what you have done.”

Emma Martin set up her mindfulness business from her home in Knaphill in 2020 after benefitting from the concept when she suffered from postnatal depression. She began by helping friends, family and local mums and now runs mindfulness and wellbeing workshops and courses at various venues.

Emma, who donates 2.5% of the profits from her “Mindfulness in a box” to Woking Mind, said: “Becoming a winner for Product of the Year has been a wonderful boost.

All the West Surrey finalists of The Family Network awards

“When I set out to launch my ‘Mindfulness in a box’ gifts , I wanted to share the magic of mindfulness to create some micro moments of peace, calm and relaxation on people’s doorsteps.

“Everything is sourced from Surrey businesses or UK brands with an ethical conscience. Receiving national recognition is something I am extremely grateful for, and I look forward to supporting more people on their wellbeing journey.”

Horsell-based artist Hannah Bruce, who won the Networker of the Year, has been a member of TFN West Surrey branch for seven years.

She has previously put together pop-up arts and crafts displays in Woking town centre.

Hannah said: “This award has meant so much and has spurred me towards larger art wellbeing business projects. Collaboration is just the best.”         

Anna Jolley started Jolley Consultancy, which gives help and advice to other small business owners, in September 2019. Anna won Networker of the Year at the TFN awards last year and was a finalist in that category this year.

She said: “I was so surprised and delighted to win Business Mum of the Year this year. Having won Networker of the Year last year, I was so happy that another member of our group won it. 

“It was a really amazing evening that I shall never forget and I’m so glad so many of our group were both finalists and winners.”

Fifteen West Surrey Branch members were among 50 finalists competing for 38 awards at the ceremony held at Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel and Country Club in Birmingham. The event was sponsored by the Work From Home Network and just over 100 people gathered to celebrate.

There were more than 300 entries from TFN’s 10 branches around the country, judged by a panel including Sally Bee, the TV presenter and cook, and Anna Davidson, the founder of Amazon 101 Academy. 

The national awards next year will be held in Surrey and local companies are invited to be sponsors.

The Family Network West Surrey meet monthly at the Woking FC stadium.

The West Surrey branch winners were:

Love Thy Body Project (Serena Novelli and Laura Bland) – Small Business of the Year

Bare + Fair (Melanie Hemmings) – Business Growth of the Year

Emma Martin Mindfulness – Product of the Year

Hannah Bruce of Hannah Bruce Art – Networker of the Year

Anna Jolley of Jolley Consultancy – Business Mum of the Year

Dueyna Chinere – Branch Leader of the year

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