There are three business categories within the Soldiering On Awards, and each has showcased some incredible, diverse business ideas over the past couple of years. But what’s often most inspiring is that the business owners have created these ventures after leaving active service.
Aside from the usual benefits of receiving a prestigious award, Soldiering On Award winners also have the advantage of a fabulous support package from X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) that really helps to springboard their organisation forward.
We believe that winning an award should be the start of the journey, not the end. Therefore, the sensational Awards night is just the first step of a bespoke 12-month partnership between each winner and XFE to support the next stage of their journey with a vast range of opportunities.
Read on to see how last year’s winning businesses have benefited since their initial nomination.
So, who do you know?
Business of the Year – Start Up Award
What’s it for?
Sponsored by GKN Aerospace, 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).
Who’s won previously?
Network Training Partnership, our 2019 winner, provides integrated training and recruitment solutions to the automotive, logistics and recovery industries, with an additional focus on supporting the veteran community. All instructors are ex-military.
Gary Tucker, MD of Network Training Partnership is a fantastic example of a business owner who’s embraced the opportunities arising from his business’ win. “Network Training Partnership was delighted to win the Business Start-Up of the Year at the Soldiering On Awards. It was a fantastic achievement just to be nominated, and it was extremely humbling to meet such inspirational people across the categories at the House of Lords during the award finalists announcement and the subsequent awards evening.
“The ongoing business support that we have received through the new X-Forces Enterprise 3:6:12 programme has been fantastic, including a year’s free membership of the Federation of Small Businesses and numerous PR opportunities that have significantly raised our profile.
“The Soldiering On Awards is much more than just an awards ceremony, it is a community that helps individuals and businesses in a variety of ways, and we have seen first hand the hard work and dedication the team put in to achieve this.
“NTP is looking forward to continuing our journey with the help of X-Forces Enterprise, and like everyone that is involved, we are also keen to give something back. If you are thinking of nominating someone for an award, we would strongly recommend you do, what have you got to lose?”
Our 2018 winner in the business start-up category was Doddl, founded in 2013 by sisters Catherine Dodd and Rosie Phelps-Goggin, an ex-RAF Intelligence Officer. Their children’s cutlery is now transforming family mealtimes in 28 countries worldwide! Rosie explains how winning has been invaluable to the business, “For the team behind Doddl, winning the X-Forces Business Start-up award means recognition of the long and difficult journey it’s taken to get our concept idea through manufacture to selling internationally. It has opened up doors to a network of business leaders, which is invaluable to our business.”
Business of the Year – Scale Up Award
What’s it for?
This ‘scale up’ award honours a business that was established before 1 Oct 2017, started by an individual linked with the armed forces who still retains a minimum of 51% interest in the venture.
Who’s won previously?
UK Connect Ltd provides broadband connectivity to previously unconnected locations, such as new building sites. The business started with just £1000 and is now an industry leader turning over more than £4 million.
PJ Farr, MD of UK Connect said: “I am so honoured to have won this Award, it means a huge amount to both me and the UK Connect team. As an ex-armed forces member, I am inspired daily by the diverse and dedicated people and groups who support the Armed Forces. I am really proud that our business is involved with something that highlights the outstanding achievements of current and former servicemen and women, and their families.”
Our 2018 winner was Strongmind Resiliency Training providing mental health awareness and education programmes for government departments, charities and corporate clients.
Sue Dorney explains why you should nominate a business that you respect: “Winning the prestigious award for the business of the year in the scale up category in 2018 gave us tremendous exposure on which we have continued to build our business. It was just recognition for everyone at Strongmind for their hard work and dedication and gave everyone a boost. We were grateful to be nominated and would encourage others to help people to obtain the recognition they deserve through the Soldiering On Awards.”
Business of the Year – Community Impact Award
What’s it for?
The Community Impact Award, sponsored by Cisco, honours a business that was started up by someone linked with the armed forces that has a made a real impact within the Armed Forces Community.
Who’s won previously?
Sinah Common Honey was the brainchild of John Geden. When he retired from a 32 year career in the military and police force suffering from complex PTSD, John decided to transform his love of bee-keeping into a business – and Sinah Common Honey was born! John now manages 200 hives, produces two tonnes of honey and runs beekeeping courses for veterans. He’s about to launch a cosmetic product, with the proceeds going to military charities.
John told us: “I was thrilled to be even nominated for this award, ecstatic to have reached the Finalist stage and so you can imagine just how I feel to have actually won!”
The standard of nominations was incredibly high, so the judges decided to award a Highly Commended Commendation to RAF veteran James Wilthew, owner of The Afghan Rug Shop Ltd – the only retail shop outside of Afghanistan purely selling the country’s unique handmade rugs and helping local weaving families to have sustainable incomes. The Judges commended him for his international community impact, in supporting the Afghan families with whom he works.
James told us about the ways in which his success at the Soldiering On Awards has benefited his business: “Being Highly Commended has given us much wider exposure than we anticipated, we’ve had some great national press and radio coverage, some incredible networking opportunities and been invited to major seminars and functions, including The Houses of Parliament.”
Sporting Force Ltd, our 2018 winner, works with professional football clubs to provide work placements and courses for ex-military personnel. Its CEO, Tommy Lowther, is a veteran who was diagnosed with PTSD and wanted to help others through his passion for sport.
So… Who do you know?
If you know someone worthy of recognition, nominate them now to give them a chance of being a winner.
You can see all previous winners on our website by clicking on the Awards tab then selecting previous award from the drop-down menu and choosing a year.
It will be fantastic if you can help to spread the word by sharing this blog to make sure as many people as possible have the opportunity to nominate whoever they feel deserves an Award! You’ll find us on all social media channels; these tags may help when you’re sharing info: #SOA2020 #soldieringonawards