Disabled entrepreneurs show their skills at Stelios Awards

A supplier of metal polishing products, a Christmas tree grower and the creator of an innovative skill-matching jobs board are among the winners of this year’s Stelios Awards for Disabled Entrepreneurs.

Joe Waggott, Clive Collins and Joseph Williams

The prestigious awards, first launched in 2007, are jointly run by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation and Leonard Cheshire. This year they attracted entrepreneurs from a wide range of sectors including technology, recruitment, sports and rehabilitation, wellbeing, fashion and adaptive clothing.

The Awards offer one of the largest financial prizes for disabled entrepreneurs in the UK. A top prize of £30,000, as well as two finalist prizes of £20,000 and £10,000, meant there was £60,000 in cash up for grabs for 2022. 

Following a shortlist of five top candidates, this year’s winners are:

First prize winner Joe Waggott, 52, is based in Hampshire and hails from Harare, Zimbabwe. After settling permanently in the UK in December 2005, when political unrest in Zimbabwe left him with just £35 in his pocket, Joe now has a thriving metal polishing supply company. Joe was born with spina bifida, a condition affecting mobility.

Joe said:

“When I heard I’d won, I was overwhelmed and very emotional. There were tears in my eyes and I was so happy. As well as developing my business further, I want to champion disabled people in business and offer mentorship to people looking to start up a company.”

Leonard Cheshire Chief Executive Ruth Owen said:

“There were really strong entries this year, with a huge amount of talent out there. It’s brilliant to see such fantastic businesses from disabled entrepreneurs, showing what we’ve known for a long time – disabled people can be really successful entrepreneurs and can offer so much in the workplace. Congratulations to all the winners and to all the candidates.”

Sir Stelios said:

“I am delighted that we have found again three very worthy winners who have proven that the best way for a disabled person to earn a good living is to start their own business!

"Congratulations to all three winners and the 48 other applicants who should be encouraged to try again next year."

Since the Awards started in 2007 Sir Stelios and his foundation have donated a grand total of £1,196,000, including this year’s sum, as prize money through the Awards, giving disabled entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase their talents.

The Stelios Awards were relaunched this year with new criteria following a two-year postponement due to the pandemic. The three winners celebrated in a virtual ceremony held on Monday 13 June.

Media enquiries

For media enquiries, please contact Nick Bishop, Communications Officer at Leonard Cheshire, via nick.bishop@leonardcheshire.org or 07889 976 267. Alternatively, please contact Richard Shackleton, Communications Director for Sir Stelios, via richard.shackleton@easy.com or 07905 779 799.

The Stelios Philanthropic Foundation is a registered charity in the UK which backs a number of charitable initiatives in the UK, Greece, Cyprus and Monaco. The Foundation gives support in four main areas: scholarships, supporting entrepreneurship with cash prizes, donating money to environmental and other charities and operating a poverty relief programme in Greece and Cyprus - “Food from the Heart”.