For the 3rd time, I was honoured to be asked to present the award for the Most Inspiring Business Parent, at The National mumandworking Awards 2016.  We had the most fantastic time celebrating flexible working and sometimes with a few tearful moment.  If you are prone to crying at TV ads with babies in, you might want to get your tissues handy.

The Headline Sponsor Vorwerk UK, and award Sponsor SwimKidz was hosted by NatWest on 11th October 2016  at RBS, London.

Most Inspiring Business Parent Award 2016 Sponsored by Vorwerk, Natwest and Swim Kidz

Why are these awards so special?

Very simply they highlight amazing individuals, inspiring employers & the many advantages of flexible, family-friendly employment.

My “little bit” of the whole day is usually at the end of the awards, It is always an honour to judge this award, The Most Inspiring Business Parent.

When I receive my shortlist of finalists, I always have a “brace myself” moment.  I know that I am going to be reading a very emotional, heartfelt and above all inspiring nominations.

This award is for

“any parent running a flexible business and who has struggled against adversity and triumphed despite the odds”

it is and, has again, been a very emotional category to judge, so please forgive me if this reads a little emotionally. As you will appreciate this is not an easy task and I have already shed a few tears.

Being a being a parent is tough “business” and all of the nominees have shown incredible strength and inspiration going beyond the norm, and have truly earned their place in this category.

I have personally spoken to all of them, and of course I would award them all.  Sadly, I am not allowed too, but I would like to just share very briefly with you a snippet, and it is a snippet, about each of them.

So to begin, the nominee’s stories and they are not in any order……

Mandy Charlton – Mandy Charlton Photography 

Mandy Charlton Photography

After a long battle with Bi-Polar Mandy set up her business in 2007, since then she has coped with her husband leaving her, agoraphobia, and severe anxiety. Not letting these challenges deter her she has gone on to follow her dream, to write and travel independently.  After shedding tears of happiness as Mandy realised that the girl who could not get to her own back gate, managed to reach Italy through 5 countries.

Susie Harris – My Hourly

My Hourly Assistant - Most Inspiring Business Parent Award 2016

Having a baby is a life changing experience, but at 33 weeks pregnant to lose 80% of your vision must have been terrifying.

After many tests and the possible diagnosis that it could be Multiple Sclerosis, which thankfully it wasn’t, Susie went on to recover her sight but this shock made her look at her priorities, hence the creation of her business of supporting other small businesses with her expertise and flexible working.

Dianne McKew – Miglio Designer Jewellery

Miglio Jewellery - Most Inspiring Business Parent Award 2016 Finalist

Dianne has an amazing “best friend” who is also her husband.  After the birth of their son Josh, Dianne knew something was “not right” as her new baby didn’t feed properly, cried all the time and gradually got sicker and sicker.

Her son was in pain 24 hours a day, and Dianne slowly withdrew herself from life, but kept telling everyone she was “fine”.

Suffering from post-natal depression, her son Josh in severe pain, fitting 6 times a day she kept a diary of his everyday life knowing that something was wrong but not realising at the time how valuable her diary would become.

After 12 months of fighting the system, Dianne had an appointment with a Dr Hughes, although he admitted he didn’t know what was wrong with Josh he was prepared to investigate.

After years of tests Josh was diagnosed with Eosinophilic colitis.  As life revolved around Josh 24/7, two little brothers also came along, worried that they would have the same condition, but Jack was not affected and Harry was milk intolerant.

As if this was not enough to deal with, Dianne wanted to have something for her and decided to find work, but something that worked around her boys.

Dianne opens up her home, hosts parties for other mums and sells Miglio Jewellery to friends, BUT with a cup of tea, a listening ear and regularly supports other parents while running her business and caring for her boys.

Anisha MacDermid – Exclamation Marketing

Exclamation Marketing - Most Inspiring Business Parent Award 2016 Finalist

Anisha has personally had to deal with building her business, looking after two small babies, working as nurse on night shifts, and learning and coping with the diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis (similar to Crohn’s disease) a distressing and disruptive illness.

Not to be beaten Anisha managed her time nursing and working late into the evenings a few hours a week she has built her website, content and created a lifestyle to support her and her family.

Anisha continues building her business while still receiving intravenous treatment every 8 weeks to manage her condition.

Sam Bowen –

Hip-Pose Ltd - Most Inspiring Business Parent Award 2016 Finalist

Having a baby is a wonderful time… but sometimes it isn’t…

As a mum you will cope with whatever comes your way, even though you won’t always know why or how you did, but you will.

Sam coped….

When her daughter was born she was diagnosed with hip-dysplasia, which affects 1 in 300 children, as well as a rare genetic condition causing severe disability.

As most parents we may not want to think about our babies being unwell and to find yourself suddenly in a world of surgeries, full body casts, problems changing nappy and of course clothes for your baby.

Wanting to show off your baby, despite the cast, will of course be important to any new parent, but when you get “funny” looks from people, and you have to explain your situation a 1000 times, it can be exhausting.

Not only are you dealing with your child’s medical needs, you will be looking after their emotional needs too, along with family and friends, so where do you get support from?

This is why people, like Sam, who is not only coping with her own adversity, sets about designing her own brand of clothing for hip-dysplasia children, how can you not be inspired.

Sam found a wonderful way to support and help not only her own child but also 1000’s of other parents who needed to find clothing that was beautiful but also met universal, but also individual needs of these special babies and children.

Having surgeries and casts fitted is painful and distressing for all involved, and to also raise over £100,000 for her daughters school for a new sensory room and playground, I am humbled and inspired, and a little weepy too.

Paola Dyboski-Bryant – Dr Zigs Extraordinary Bubbles

Dr Zigs - Most Inspiring Business Parent Award 2016 Finalist

Starting a bubble business…. who would have thought that playing with her 2-year-old, Ziggy, would bring about a family run, flexible working environment for Paola?

With a passion and desire to build a business that was started from a £50 investment, Dr Zigs was born.

But this is not just an ordinary business lady.  Paola, was also having to deal with autism and transgender, in her eldest son.

Dealing with clinics and referrals, bullying and unfortunately 3 attempts to take his own life, her son Gatto has come through and is slowly gaining confidence.

Paola has shown empathy, compassion and love for her family and this love extends to her team at work who she supports while growing her business.

An incredible lady who has managed to cope with years of diversity and yet brings “bubbles, giggles and smiles” to children all over the world.

As Paola says “changing the world one bubble at a time”.

Before I announce our highly commended and winner, I would just like to say that being a parent is tough every day, we are constantly being asked to balance the needs of our families, with work, social life and perhaps giving ourselves a little me time!

But is good to see that over the years and with better technology we have seen parents to become inspired to start their own businesses, support their own self-esteem and show their children too what an inspirational parent you all are.

Please be kind to each other, we never know what journey others have taken, and they may not know yours, but a supportive email, comment or even a simple like can make all the difference when you are working at home, often on your own.  Just remember that there are others similar to you, and some may also be coping with a diversity.

So to our….

Highly commended winners

Paola Dyboski-Bryant from Dr Zigs Extraordinary Bubbles and  Dianne McKew – Miglio Designer Jewellery

And our Winner for the 2016 Our Most Inspiring Business Parent

Samantha Bowen from Hip-Pose Ltd

Samantha Bowen - Hip-Pose Ltd Winner of the Most Inspiring Business Parent Award 2016


By Debbie Bird

Managing Editor of