Speyside's enterprising Jennifer named top north businesswoman at the Highland Business Women Awards
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Grantown woman Jennifer Macdonald-Nethercott's enterprising response to the challenge of the pandemic saw her named the north's businesswoman of the year at the Highland Business Woman (HBW) Awards.
Journalist and broadcaster Nicky Marr, who hosted the online awards ceremony, said the judges had been really impressed by the way Jennifer had juggled disciplines.
Not only had her well established marketing agency, Strath Communications, managed to increase its revenue during the pandemic, she also launched a second business, Wilder Waves, creating ethical clothing made from organic cotton and recycled materials, with a donation from every sale going to marine environmental charity Ocean Generation.
Responding via Zoom, Jennifer said she was "over the moon" to win the award, but also paid tribute to HBW for the way the networking group had supported its members through the crisis.
"I am just so grateful to everyone at HBW who has been so supportive over the last 18 months," she said.
The team of the year award went to Meallmore Lodge care home at Daviot.
Nix Shaw, group head of recruitment, said: "It's been a tough year, but the team definitely pulled together."
That was a reflection of the group ethos, she added.
"Our core value is caring. It is at the heart of everything we do," she said.
Fellow winner Joanna Mackenzie will go through to the national Association of Scottish Businesswomen Awards on September 26 after her Caithness businesses, The Store Café in Bettyhill and the Clean Bees cleaning agency scooped the most enterprising business title. She also went on to win the final HBW award of the evening, the most inspiring woman award.
The judges highlighted the difference Mrs Mackenzie, who initially left her home village of Bettyhill to study at university in Edinburgh, had made to the area since she returned to settle there, with Clean Bees going from strength to strength over the last 10 years with the recent completion of new build laundrette and similar success for her other business, the Store Café.
The other double winner at the 2021 HBW Awards was Inverness-based suicide prevention and mental health charity Mikeysline, which won the best third sector award and also the business resilience award, introduced this year to recognise the way north organisations have risen to the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Capping its awards success, the online audience at the virtual event raised £511 to help Mikeysline to continue its work in the community.
Last year's HBW charity of the year, traditional arts organisation Fèis Rois, was also a winner, despite being pipped to the third sector title by Mikeysline. The Dingwall-based organisation was awarded the digital innovation trophy after moving its tutorial service and May festival online in response to the pandemic.
New business winner Jenny Whyte was also recognised for her response to the challenges of the pandemic. Initially working from her kitchen, she created Grazey Days to deliver breakfasts, afternoon teas and other tasty treats to customers in the Inverness area.
Four months later she was ready to expand and now has two employees and is preparing to move into dedicated premises of her own.
When the pandemic halted her business, Inverness photographer Alison White launched her #FrontStepsProject, photographing members of the community to document a unique time and help people feel a little less isolated, with those she photographed encouraged to make a donation for MFR's Cash for Kids Appeal.
Other photographers followed her example, eventually raising £8000 for the charity.
2021 Highland Business Women Awards
New business of the year, sponsored by Business Gateway: Grazy Days, Inverness
Excellence in community engagement, sponsored by BAM Nuttall: Alison White Photography, Inverness
Team of the year, sponsored by Springfield Properties: Meallmore Ltd, Daviot
Best third sector, sponsored by Equiom: Mikeysline, Inverness
Digital innovation, sponsored by City Fibre: Fèis Rois, Dingwall
Business resilience, sponsored by DYW Inverness and Central Highland: Mikeysline, Inverness