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All-female battle for award honour

Posted: 16th Dec 2016 | Written by Katrina Gilbert

Three women will be battling it out for the honour of their businesses being named Small Business of the Year at this year’s Havering Business awards.

The award will be one of 13 prestigious awards handed out at the awards ceremony held at CEME in Rainham, on Friday 7 October.

The three companies named as finalists in the Small Business of the Year category sponsored by Segro Plc are all headed by female entrepreneurs.

Pauline Ward runs Inspired Health & Fitness based in Hornchurch. She has more than 30 years of experience in the fitness industry but in recent years has twice suffered redundancy. “I was devastated the first time but I was ready for it the second time it happened,” said Pauline. It was the spur that prompted her to take the big step of establishing her own business. “I spent 12 months taking new qualifications to teach specialist pilates and yoga classes and courses and then took the plunge,” she said. Her business is designed to offer Barre pilates, pilates and yoga classes and courses for people who find gyms scary or intimidating.

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Pauline Ward

Pauline is hoping her business will grow and her daughter is already helping out as more courses are arranged around the borough. “My husband will be coming along to the awards ceremony so I’m hoping he at least will give me a clap as I’m announced as a finalist!” joked Pauline.

Purple Valentine Aesthetics are the second finalist and the business is also less than two years old. It’s run by Natasha Britton and provides IPL hair removal, and advanced skin and beauty treatments. The business is based in the Liberty Shopping Centre in Romford. “The Liberty is full of life with so many people walking through every day but no-one else offering what we do,” said Natasha.

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Natasha Britton

Prior to starting her own business Natasha worked in the City near Liverpool Street station. It was while she was on maternity leave with her third child that she decided on setting up her own business. “It was a big gamble and big step to leave a full-time job but I don’t regret a thing,” said Natasha.  Natasha says she’s passionate about beauty and called the business Purple Valentine after discussing the matter with her mum and deciding on a name that encapsulated that passion for beauty and a name that sets the business apart.  “I can’t wait for the awards night,” added Natasha.

The third finalist is Sweetie Cake run by Kathy Arnold from her home in Gidea Park.  Single mum Kathy began the business in 2010 when she wanted to do a job that would allow her to care for her two children and work from home. She had her garage converted into an industrial cake studio with all stainless steel fittings and began the business making bespoke cakes alongside her other work as a school chef.

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Kathy Arnold

“My sister encouraged me to set up the business,” said Kathy. “I love to do outrageous things with my cakes. Recently I’ve made cakes that have included lights and even steam for a train enthusiast! I love experimenting with special effects which of course all have to be food safe. I’m hoping to grow the business by breaking into commercial work,” she added. Kathy admitted to being overwhelmed by becoming a finalist as she only just met the application deadline. “I’m very excited and looking forward to the awards night,” said Kathy.

Tickets for the glittering awards night at CEME on Friday 7 October are available at