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Five finalists handpicked by Sir Stelios each win £10,000

· Companies on the shortlist include: app for restaurant menus, portable gyms for wheelchair users, inclusive training and community engagement, and sports facilities for disabled people.

· Winner will win a further £20,000 at an award ceremony on 10 November 2016
EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and leading international charity Leonard Cheshire Disability announced today the five finalists for the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs 2016. Each has won £10,000 and now has a chance to win a further £20,000.

A record amount of candidates applied for the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs this year. The applications came from diverse business arenas, including documentary makers, software application developers, night photographers, vintage ice-cream makers, fashion designers, and accessible playground designers.

Sir Stelios said: “The interest in this year’s award – on our tenth anniversary – highlights the role entrepreneurs can take in helping combat unemployment among disabled people. The sheer range of business ideas submitted this year will mean me and my team are going to have a challenging but immensely rewarding task ahead of us.”

The five finalists are:

Andrew Graham from Newcastle, whose business Pop-Up Gym provides rehabilitation and fitness for people by bringing the gym to them. The company provides a ‘fun and pleasant’ environment for clients to exercise without feeling self-conscious. popupgym.weebly.com

Alex Papanikolaou from Glasgow, whose business provides training, including access audits and equality and inclusiveness consultations. Alex has also developed the Freedom One Wheelchair. Freedomonelife.com

Matt Wadsworth from Norwich. Matt created an app which reads menus for blind and visually impaired people, which is already used around the UK by chains such as Carluccio’s, Côte, Nando’s and Pret á Manger. goodfoodtalks.com

Scott Smith from Wolverhamton, whose business Invictus Active provides products to help disabled people keep active on a daily basis. Their products include accessible bikes and the ‘Invictus Active Trainer’ which helps wheelchair users to improve fitness, balance and technique. invictusactive.com

Dave Kelly from Liverpool. Dave’s Daisy UK runs sports courses for schools, colleges and after school clubs, among other organisations. It also offers pan-disability sports clubs. daisyuk.co.uk

The overall winner will win £30,000 and an additional 4 shortlisted applicants will each get £10,000.

The award, jointly run by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation (www.stelios.com) and the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, (www.LeonardCheshire.org) started ten year ago. It recognises the achievements of disabled entrepreneurs in the UK.

Tony Adamson, Head of Programmes, Enterprise & Innovation at Leonard Cheshire said: “At a time when less than half the disabled working-age people in the UK have jobs, starting your own company is looking increasingly attractive. You can manage your time and create your own vision. We look forward to looking through the exciting and innovative business ideas from around the UK.”

Past winners have been drawn from the travel agency, building and IT sectors as well as businesses specialising in disability/mobility aids and services. The winner will be announced on Thursday 10 November 2016

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