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Best friends pitted against each other in business awards

Gwen Backhouse and Amanda Ryan

They may be best friends and business partners, but Amanda Ryan and Gwen Backhouse recently discovered that they are both up for the same business Award, to be announced at a prestigious award ceremony in Blackpool in September.

Amanda, owner of Raindrop Comms in Carlisle and Gwen, owner of Curlew Secretarial Solutions in Brampton, both met at a business networking event in February 2014 and have been great friends ever since.  In 2017 they decided to become business partners when they launched the Borderlands Virtual Assistant Network, an organisation that supports Virtual Assistants in starting up and growing their businesses in Cumbria and Border regions.  Both Amanda and Gwen have previously won national awards for their own businesses but never imagined that they would be up against each other until now.

Having both been nominated for an Enterprise Vision Award earlier in the year, neither knew the other was in the running until they were both notified that they had been chosen as finalists for the category of Solo Business along with six other businesses from around the North West.

The Enterprise Vision Awards were created in association with the women’s business network Pink Link and take place every year. The awards highlight female entrepreneurs from around the North West who stand out and excel in their area of expertise.  A black-tie award ceremony will be held on Saturday 27th September in the Blackpool Winter Gardens iconic Empress Ballroom.

Vowing not to let this come between them, Amanda and Gwen travelled together to give a presentation to the interview panel in early July and will also share accommodation when they attend the awards ceremony together in September.

Gwen said “I couldn’t believe it when I found out we had both been chosen as finalists and we were so happy for each other.  It is an incredible honour just to be announced as a finalist for this award and would be over the moon if I won, but I honestly believe we will both be happy if the other wins.”

Amanda also said “I was delighted when I got the call to say I’d been nominated. Then when they announced the nominees online and found out Gwen was in the same category, I did chuckle, we already do so much together that it made sense we’d both be up for the same award! With 31 Cumbrian businesswomen up for EVAs this year I’ll be overjoyed when any of us win, especially my best business friend, but it would be lovely to come home with that beautiful award myself”

After attending the interview in July, they both posted a comical video of them fighting over an award, but they have both promised they will be on their best behaviour at the awards ceremony if one of them wins; even if the winner does have to sleep with one eye open that night!

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