JOANNE Hunter, co-owner of Grasmere Gingerbread® has won a prestigious North West Special Achievement Award.
Presented to her at the influential E3 Business Awards at the Macron Stadium, Bolton, it recognised her ‘great spirit, strength, commitment and business success.’
The surprise award, sponsored by the London Stock Exchange, was presented after 23 other business category winners were announced.
“It differed from all the other award categories in being discretionary,” explained Mubarak Chati, owner of 1 Events Media who organised and hosted the Awards evening.
“Candidates are not specifically nominated for it; the 23 independent judges make a decision after having interviewed all nominees for all the various categories,” he said.
“Joanne was chosen on the strength of her judging panel interview performance, her evident entrepreneurial energy, and a compelling written entry for the ‘Outstanding Woman in Business’ category, in which she was a close runner-up.
Joanne, who took over Grasmere Gingerbread in 2000, said she “overwhelmed with emotion” on receiving the award.
“So many thoughts and feelings rushed through me. I was brought up to be seen and not heard, that it wasn’t a girl’s place to be in business,” she said.
“It is gratifying to prove that philosophy wrong. It was a pioneering woman from a very humble background, Sarah Nelson, who invented Grasmere Gingerbread® in 1854, and I’ve dedicated my life to safeguarding her culinary legacy.
“Similarly, I am from an ordinary background and went to a local comprehensive school but I’ve always had this inner belief in myself.
“Now, my own daughter is a fourth generation member of our family to be involved in the business.”
Joanne is constantly moving Grasmere Gingerbread® forward. Based in Church Cottage, Grasmere, it now has a Japanese micro website for buying online and a Chinese version is being developed.
Praising her staff, Joanne said: “They are amazing people and each member of staff has been presented with a bottle of champagne to help them celebrate too.
“It’s been an amazing few days for the Lake District; first being recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and now this award which helps to put Grasmere even more on the map.”
The 2017 E3 Awards broke all records, explained Mr Chati. “So to come away with a win is an achievement of which Joanne can be very proud,” he said.
“Every year, the E3 Business Awards give us a new insight into the many talented and hard-working businesses that are thriving in the North West.
“Despite uncertain economic conditions, companies, social enterprises and individuals remain undaunted; they continue to grow, to create jobs and to improve people’s lives. “Joanne is a fine example of that enterprising spirit and the E3 Awards are all about providing the recognition that such people deserve.”