Sylvia Hopwood Club Member wins prestigeous NatWest everywoman Award

Article Date: 16 December 2008

Sylvia Hopwood of The Recycle Works, from Ribchester is chosen as the winner in the Iris category, sponsored by BT.

The UK’s leading female entrepreneurs are today recognised for their inspiring achievements at the annual NatWest everywoman awards, acting as shining role models for the next generation of young women wanting to go it alone. Sylvia Hopwood, from Ribchester, near Preston has been chosen as a winner in the Iris category, for the woman whose business growth and success has been greatly improved through successful implementation and use of IT & communications.

The awards were founded six years ago by everywoman, the leading organisation for women in business, to showcase the successes of female business owners, many of whom have overcome significant hurdles to get to where they are.

Recent research carried out by everywoman, in association with NatWest found that female small business owners are in fact more ambitious than their male counterparts and are more likely to predict business growth. The winners of these awards are cases in point, showing that they continue to achieve success, regardless of the challenges they have faced.

Having always felt passionate about the environment, Sylvia Hopwood launched The Recycle Works in 1995, selling products to help families recycle their waste effectively. Spotting a trend very early on, she acknowledged that most effective – and environmentally friendly – method of reaching her market was through the internet, and launched online in 1998, at the age of 65.
Having grown up in an environment where women were discouraged from working, she had very little experience of employment and no formal training, but was driven to start the business following the death of her husband and the need to earn a salary. Ambitiously designing the site herself, and launching the company online when the internet was in its infancy, it now often receives monthly hits of over a million. Aware of the benefits of adding value to her customer service offering, Sylvia has recently launched a weekly online newsletter, started blogging and producing video campaigns.  She also ensures the company’s carbon footprint is minimal by ensuring product instruction leaflets are only available online or in video link form.

Today, aged 75, Sylvia has no plans to hang up her boots yet, and has recently put together a three year plan for The Recycle Works, identifying strategies to continue to leverage opportunities for sales growth via the web.

The winners were announced at a ceremony held today at The Dorchester Hotel in London, attended by pioneering figures from business, the government and the media, as well as high profile entrepreneurs such as Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers and Patron of the everywoman awards.

Karen Gill, co-founder and director of everywoman comments, "Since the start of the credit crunch, the determination demonstrated by the many female entrepreneurs we come across every day has been astounding. Our recent research found that women business owners have a huge desire for growth, and these winners are shining examples of that – they are continuing to strive for success, despite the challenges life throws at them. The calibre of the candidates in this year - the sixth year of the awards - is stronger than ever and these winners are truly an inspiration to other women who are thinking of starting up their own venture at this time."

Val Jackson-Risk, Corporate Sales Director, BT Business, adds, "In BT Business we realise how critical IT & Communications are to the growth and prosperity of today's small businesses, and it therefore gives us great pleasure to present the Everywoman Iris Award to the business that has displayed and benefited from the most effective use of these technologies. We wish the business even greater success for the future and look forward to helping other female entrepreneurs reap the same rewards for their businesses."

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