This Award honours a new business that was started by an individual linked with the Armed Forces, who still retains a minimum of 51% interest in the venture, and that has been in business for less than two years (after 1 Oct 2017).

The Award is generously sponsored by GKN Aerospace, the world’s leading multi-technology tier 1 aerospace supplier. With 50 manufacturing locations in 15 countries, the company serves over 90% of the world’s aircraft and engine manufacturers, designing and manufacturing innovative smart aerospace systems and components. Technologies range from the most used single aisle aircraft and the largest passenger planes in the world to business jets and the world’s advanced 5th generation fighter aircraft.

“Fantastic to see so many inspiring new Business Start-ups coming out of the military community. These amazing people have served their country with pride and are now contributing to stimulate the UK economy. GKN Aerospace are humbled by some of the case studies and inspired by the people who have taken the entrepreneurial ‘bull by the horns’. They are leading by example – well done to all the finalists.”

Mark Miller, Business Development Director, GKN Aerospace.


The Finalists for the Business Start Up Award are:



Thoughtify’s Director Tom Fox served as an infantry soldier for several years in some of the most dangerous places in the world. In 2015, when he was diagnosed with Chronic Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Tom single-handedly set up his Mental Health First Aid company, Thoughtify Ltd. His experience encouraged him to learn about mental health, in particular how it affects employees in the UK, and the knock-on effect it has on UK business.


Thoughtify helps people to remain mentally healthy at work and to spot and support a colleague that may be experiencing mental health issues. Its programs and initiatives support employee well-being, and include Mental Health First Aid, Stress Awareness, Managing Stress, Resilience and Lived Experience Talks.

 “Programmes are aimed at providing support to companies, which breaks down the fear and stigma of mental health, leads to the reduction of sickness absence and increases staff morale.”

The firm stresses that this support offers a competitive advantage to businesses compared to organisations that don’t have a culture of caring for their staff’s mental health.  A 2017 Review found that a manager mental health training programme could lead to an associated return on investment of £9.00 for each pound spent.  At the time of writing, the organisation has trained around 600 people directly and is on a trajectory to reach 4 – 5,000 people within the next five years.

Thoughtify was founded and launched with £3,000 of Tom’s own money and no other financial support or loans. He built the company website, set up the media channels, created the name, logo and artwork himself, and so as it stands the company has no debt and is highly profitable.

“None of us are immune to mental ill health because it just doesn’t discriminate, which is why we all need to speak openly about it at all levels in business.”



Toddle makes natural, super effective products for young children. Toddle’s founder, Hannah Saunders, was in the RAF for nine years and loves travel and adventure. Being used to activities such as cross-country skiing, winter mountaineering, sailing and mountain biking, she wanted to continue having these exciting challenges once she became a mum. However, her son suffered chapped lips and dirty hands, with no hygienic way to clean them. So Hannah started making her own natural hand gel and lip balm, with an added cord and clasp so they wouldn’t get lost.

Hannah set up Toddle to develop her natural skin products further and help other parents who want adventures with a baby in tow. The uniquely designed products can withstand the outdoors, with items such as a dribble-proof lip balm, ‘Happy Gut’ hand gel and Sun and Wind balm. All products are vegan and PETA approved, with innovations that are new to the market.

“Toddle tries to always fulfil customer requirements. This is most notably seen through their extensive efforts towards being environmentally friendly and healthy for skin.”

Hannah and her company have won numerous business awards and she was selected to attend the largest baby fair in the world, with the Department of International Trade, in September 2019. At the time of writing she has orders pending in 27 countries, which represents £447,000, and is in talks with various major UK retailers.

 “A percentage of profits go to Love the One, a charity that helps street children in India who are not entitled to any health care. Their stories are heartbreaking, and every penny that Toddle sends goes directly to help the children.”


Tribal Tracks Ltd

Tribal Tracks is an adventure travel company that organises inspirational, socially and culturally responsible adventures to provide teams with incredible opportunities.  Its founder, Charlie Richards, is an ex-Army officer in the Royal Logistic Corps who wanted to use her skills in the travel industry to provide people with amazing experiences across the globe.

With her partner Gaynor, they help charities to maximise their fundraising targets by providing a simple and financially risk-free way of raising money.  As well as these charities, Tribal Tracks’ customers include SME corporate clients looking to invest in the well-being of their staff. These adventurers have opportunities to conquer amazing mountains and deserts, or trek through a remote jungle.

“When designing trips I have drawn on my Army experiences and implemented the key ingredients to each trip – quality planning and preparation, investment in preparing the team, managing expectations and making the experience unique and fun.

Kicking off in May 2018 with two trips and seven destinations, the business increased to five trips and 11 destinations in 2019, and they have super plans in place for when the current situation changes and travel is back on the agenda. At the time of writing, they were providing challenges for BLESMA and Support Our Paras. Earlier this year a team from Walking With The Wounded successfully completed a 100km trek across the Sahara Desert and raised £18,000; in 2020 they are heading to Jordan to take on the Wadi Rum challenge. In September 2019 ABF The Soldiers’ Charity all successfully reached the summit of Mount Toubkal, Morocco raising £20k for the charity and their next challenge will be in the Sahara Desert!

“It’s about finding new places, discovering new cultures, and realising what makes you truly happy. Every single trip and every person travelling is at the heart of the business.”


Now that you probably have more time at home to find interesting things online that are not Coronavirus-related, keep an eye out in the press for news of all the amazing Finalists! If you share anything relevant on social media, please remember to tag us! We’ll happily share and retweet you, giving you and your organisation, if relevant, extra exposure.

You can see our full list of Finalists in each category here.

Awards Night

Please click here for an update on how we’ll be celebrating this year’s winners in light of the restrictions imposed due to Covid-19.


To find out about the Soldiering On Awards Independent Judging Panel who had the tough task of selecting this year’s Finalists, click here.


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