Warwickshire entrepreneurs share stories in new book celebrating female achievers - The Rugby Observer

Warwickshire entrepreneurs share stories in new book celebrating female achievers

Rugby Editorial 8th Mar, 2021   0

SUCCESSFUL entrepreneurs from Warwickshire are among women who have shared their inspirational stories in a new book set to raise funds for a national charity close to their hearts.

Inspirational Women, Inspirational Lives celebrates female achievers from across the country, many with tales of overcoming adversity and even tragedy.

The book features the 58 finalists in the 2020 Ladies First Network Awards, which takes place this month in aid of The Katie Piper Foundation.

Among those who contributed are Rugby women Rachel Willmott, Sarah McCormack and Karen Heap, Nicola Smyth from Southam, Kate Findlay from Barford, and Julie McGarrigle and Minnie Von Mallinckrodt-Grant, both from Leamington.




Rachel Willmott grew a successful and award-winning Virtual Assistant business she started from home while on maternity leave in 2013.

The parent of a child with Down syndrome, she is also an active member of The Ups of Downs charity based in Leamington, supporting it with administration, training, events and mentoring new parents.


Despite starting out as a financial analyst, Sarah McCormack decided to follow her new dream of becoming a qualified florist leading to the launch of Stemsations in Frankton. Year-on-year sales increased and the business expanded to offer a full floristry service for weddings, celebration bouquets, funeral tributes and seasonal workshops.

Her achievements have been recognised in industry awards as well as featured in glossy magazines.

Karen Heap runs Orchard Business Development, and established Socially Shared when she was unable to find the type of support network she needed as a micro-business owner. The network, which is now active in Rugby, Stratford, Coventry, Alcester and Solihull, also hosts an annual Women in Business conference, which includes inspirational and motivational speakers.

At 36, and with a hairdressing career already spanning 20 years, Nicola Smyth owns salons in Warwick, Kenilworth, Southam and Knowle and is a multi-award-winning international colourist. She also runs a Midlands training academy and mentors with her brand across the world.

Kate Findlay, from Barford, has seen her online boutique gift shop Peach Perfect go on to great success after launching the business in her early 60s and while also nursing her late husband through the latter years of dementia.

Julie McGarrigle is a director at Alsters Kelley Solicitors, which has offices in Southam, Leamington, Stratford, Coventry and Nuneaton. She is proud to be one of only a handful of female non-lawyer director/owners of a law firm.

The practice has supported a number of local charities, including Zoe’s Place Hospice in Coventry, Coventry Cyrenians, Safeline, STARS and Save the Children, and it also takes part in a number of the Free Wills initiatives for charities such as Myton Hospices, Mary Ann Evans Hospice and Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.

Although a microbiology graduate, Minnie Von Mallinckrodt-Grant today offers marketing and communications expertise and is a TEDx curator and coach.

Compiled by Tracey McAtamney, Inspirational Women, Inspirational Lives celebrates the finalists to the third LFN Business Awards who were chosen from more than 200 nominations. The winners receive their engraved glass awards virtually this year, due to Covid restrictions.

Organiser Tracey said: “I didn’t want these ladies to miss out on their recognition after such an awful year. That was why I decided to start the book. I wanted to keep the excitement alive as well as find an alternative way of raising the funds for our nominated charity.

“Compiling this book has been both very humbling and uplifting. At the moment there are more women than ever who need support and inspiration.

“It’s also based on a year on hold. It’s about what happened to these people over the past year and what impact the pandemic has had on their lives – positive and negative. It looks at how so many women have had to reinvent themselves on the kitchen table. It’s all about celebrating being positive.

“I hope that what people take away from this book is a belief in themselves, that they will see that, no matter how bad things become in your life, you can come out of it the other side.”

Inspirational Women, Inspirational Lives is available from Amazon, on Kindle, or by emailing Tracey at [email protected] with all proceeds benefitting The Katie Piper Foundation – founded by the author and TV presenter in 2008 while recovering from an acid attack which left her with permanent scars on her face and body and blindness in one eye.

Proceeds from an online silent auction will also be donated to the Foundation. More than 20 lots include an Amplify Events VIP package to see Strictly Come Dancing Live, a private dining meal for two courtesy of Bramble Dining, a diamond ring, and more. Visit www.jumblebee.co.uk/Charityauction2021 to bid.

Visit www.ladiesfirstnetwork.co.uk for tickets to the awards night.

Visit https://katiepiperfoundation.org.uk for more information on The Katie Piper Foundation.

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