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Seven start up loans recipients named as finalists at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards and two winners announced

  • Hannah Saunders of Toddle Born Wild and Sara Roberts of Healthy Nibbles named as regional winners in their categories.
  • Founders of seven Start up Loans-backed small businesses were nominated as finalists for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2022 as the scheme marked its 10th anniversary

We would like to say a huge congratulations to Start Up Loans South West Ambassador Hannah Saunders of Toddle Born Wild for winning South West Entrepreneur of the Year and former Ambassador Sara Roberts of Healthy Nibbles for winning Scotland and Northern Ireland Sustainability Entrepreneur of the Year at last night’s Great British Entrepreneurs Awards!

We were incredibly proud to see seven loan recipients from across the UK named regional finalists at this year’s Great British Entrepreneurship Awards.

The awards, held on the 22nd November 2022, brought together 1,400 entrepreneurs, judges, mentors, investors, and partners to celebrate and champion the hard work of Britain’s entrepreneurs.

Among the successful businesses are an ex-military Dragons Den winner, a professional violinist and a Royal Navy air traffic controller turned e-commerce business builder extraordinaire.

  1. NICEDrinks founded by Lucy & Jeremy May

Nominated in the Food and Drink category for London and the East of England.

Photo of Jeremy MayNICE, a UK based independent wine company, was founded by Lucy Wright and Jeremy May in 2019. Jeremy had worked in the food and drink industry and came up with the idea for NICE after discovering an American brand of canned wine on Instagram and became immediately obsessed with the concept. He wanted to make wine more approachable and fun. They took out loans worth £25,000 each in February and May of 2020 with Virgin StartUp to kick start their ‘wine in a can’ business and were announced as Start Up Loans ambassadors the same year.




  1. Toddle Born Wild founded by Hannah Saunders

Nominated in the Health and Beauty Category for the South West.

Photo of Hannah SaundersAfter leaving the armed forces after nine years, mum of two, Hannah took out a £14,700 loan in 2020 to launch Toddle Born Wild, a natural vegan children skincare brand. She decided to launch after spotting a gap in market for sustainable and effective skin protection for children. She continues to expand her business and has since won funding from Steven Bartlett and Deborah Meaden on Dragon’s Den.



  1. Healthy Nibbles founded by Sara Roberts:

Finalist in the Sustainability Entrepreneur category for Scotland.

Photo of Sara RobertsHealthy Nibbles is the UK’s award-winning answer to healthy snacking. The business was set up in 2015 when Sara grew tired of the only food available to snack on ‘on the go’ was unhealthy. Her business now provides healthy snack options to companies in the form of vending machines, ‘micro markets’, snack boxes and gifts. Sara Roberts took out £20,00 over two loans through The Hub.





  1. House of Curls founded by Claire Pledger

Finalist in the Health & Beauty Entrepreneur category for Wales.

Photo of Claire PledgerClare Pledger, founder of House of Curls, an e-tailer specialising in curly and natural hair products, received a £20,000 Start Up Loan via Business in Focus to launch her business. She launched the business having found a gap in the market for hair products that cater towards people with naturally curly hair.






  1. The British Craft House founded by Susan Bonnar

Finalist for creative entrepreneur of the year in the Southeast

Photo of Susan BonnarSusan, 52, was an air traffic controller in the Royal Navy for 22 years and when she retired, she spent many evenings at home crafting. Frustrated with not having a suitable platform to sell her own products, her idea for The British Craft House was born. She took out £12,000 in 2019 through Delivery Partner Virgin StartUp, to pay for designing and developing The British Craft House – an e-commerce site selling hand crafted artisan gifts.



  1. KinKind founded by Victoria Coe

Finalist for Start Up Entrepreneur of the year in the Southeast

Photo of Victoria CoeVictoria, founder of KinKind, an e-retailer specialising in 100% plastic free, cruelty free and vegan, British shampoo and conditioner bars, took out a loan for £25,000 through delivery partner Virgin StartUp in May 2019. She’s on a mission to eliminate plastic bottles in UK family bathrooms with their 100% plastic-free hair & beauty bars.



  1. The Strings Club founded by Amy Cunningham

Finalists in the Scale Up category for the Midlands

Photo of Amy CunninghamThe Strings Club was founded in 2012 by professional violinist and teacher, Amy Cunningham. She runs a series of music camps and programmes for children aged 4-11. Her aim was to give children an opportunity to engage with music in a rewarding, enriching – but most of all fun way.




Louise McCoy, Commercial Director, Start Up Loans, said:

It’s wonderful to see so many of our Start Up Loans recipients being recognised for their hard work and tenacity by the Great British Entrepreneurship Awards. I am pleased to see that, with the help of Start Up Loans, these businesses have been able to access the finance they need to grow and contribute to their local economies, and I hope their stories inspire others to take the leap into business ownership.”

2022 also marked Start Up Loans’ celebration of its 10-year anniversary, having delivered 98,000 loans worth over £922 million in funding since 2012.