A SHEFFIELD woman who had to abandon her bid to become a lawyer when her husband died has won a top business award.
Emily Williamson was 20 weeks pregnant with her second child when her husband, Leigh, died and she had to abandon final year legal studies to go back to work in the hotel sector.
She quickly landed the job of wedding coordinator at the Peak Edge Hotel, which was just opening in Ashover, and moved to the Hotel du Vin, in York, last year.
Now, she has won the Yorkshire & Humber Forward Ladies Young Businesswoman of the Year Award, days after coming second in the York Woman in Enterprise Award.
Emily said: “I love my work and the challenges it brings and equally try to make time to be a great mum.
“The challenges I’ve had to face I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but I had two choices – to spend the rest of my life under the duvet or come out fighting to make a life for my two daughters and be a mum they could be proud of. I’ve chosen the latter course.”
Emily has brought in hundreds of thousands of pounds of new business to the Hotel du Vin since she started working there 10 months ago.
She has started a Monday coffee club for mothers, the Business Network du Vin, afternoon teas, special wedding packages and new outdoor barbecue which helped the hotel make the most of special events such as the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics.
She also brought apprenticeships into the hotel and has developed a reputation for being very supportive of local charities, fundraising tirelessly for the local children’s hospice and schools.
Also victorious at the same event was Julia Gash, chief executive of Sheffield green manufacturing company Bag It Don’t Bin It. She beat stiff competition to be named SME Businesswoman of the Year.
Bag It Don’t Bin It has grown to employ 18 people and has sales of £1 million a year. Earlier this year, Julia started her own-brand range of ethical fashion accessories, called Talented Totes, and won a place on the Santander Bank Trade Mission to New York, prompting the company to target further expansion in the US. Julia Gash said: “I hope that my success will also inspire other Sheffield businesswomen to put themselves forward for regional and national awards.”