Sarah Southworth, founder of Specialised Cleaning Services, has been shortlisted as 'Inspirational woman of the year' at this year's Enterprise Vision Awards (the EVAs).
Southworth, who set up her family-run business in 2005, now operates a successful business with a team of 25 staff and 10 vans and offers the full spectrum of cleaning services to businesses and housing associations from its head office in Preston, Lancashire. Being shortlisted for this award is recognition of the journey she has taken to get the business to the position it is in now and follows her success in the same awards last year where she scooped the 'Business woman of the year' award.
Sarah Southworth said: “To be shortlisted for this award leaves me speechless! I was humbled to be nominated in the first instance and to get to this stage really has made me reflect on my achievements. My journey to self-employment was not something I planned for or ever dreamt I could achieve. It was motivated by the need to have a flexible job to care for my two young boys after their father's suicide. Having left home at 15 and with no support from family or friends, it was make or break for my little family and so I took an ironing job for £3 an hour working from home. I would iron for up to 15 hours a day and, when the opportunity arose to 'buy the round' for £100, I borrowed the money and bought it! The pivotal point came in 2008 when an opportunity to clean a void property arose and that really was when Specialised Cleaning Services was born.”
Joint-founder of the awards, Coral Horn, said: “The accolade of 'Inspirational woman of the year' is our toughest category and the competition is fierce. It is presented to a role model who can demonstrate entrepreneurship and, in Sarah's case, this comes in the face of adversity along the way. She clearly runs her business with passion and her sheer determination to tackle challenges resonates throughout her businesses and clearly has a positive, motivating effect on employees too.”
The Enterprise Vision Awards are now in their third year and the winners will be announced at a ceremony in October.
Photo shows Sarah Southworth and her sons, Luke and Nathan Brennan.