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June 2009

WOMAN OF ACHIEVEMENT Award: Jackie Whiteley

Yorkshire Evening Post Published Date: 20 June 2009

Yorkshire's special women have been celebrated at one of the region's most prestigious events. Jayne Dawson reports
WOMAN OF ACHIEVEMENT award: Jackie Whiteley A woman who has built up a successful business and inspired others despite personal tragedy has been named Yorkshire Woman of Achievement. Jackie Whiteley, who runs Strulch UK, a company that manufactures a mulch for use in organic gardening, received her award in front of four hundred women at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. Each year the Women of Achievement Awards recognise women who have made a contribution to the lives of others at an event which raises money for Wheatfields Hospice in Headingley, Leeds. This year's lunch and awards ceremony is expected to have raised more than £20,000. Judges said Jackie, who was also the winner of the business award, was chosen not only because of her success in the traditionally male-dominated world of manufacturing but also because of her inspirational attitude. Jackie, whose business is based in Burley in Wharfedale, became a mother aged twenty but went on to study for many qualifications and hoped to become a lawyer. But her life was halted by the death of her son Matthew, who died in his early twenties. Jackie spiralled into a severe depression, but she fought her way back to health and set up her business. She said: "The worst thing has already happened so I am free to push the boundaries and see where I can get to. "I decided I would never be mentally ill again. I intend to live a long life and don't think I could ever retire. I feel younger in my fifties than I did in my thirties. My son's death freed my from self-imposed restraints about what was possible. "People who knew me before Matthew's death tell me I am not the same person." Those who nominated her said: "There are few people who stare the unthinkable in the face and have the courage and determination to rebuild their lives. "Jackie has done that."

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Jackie Wins Silver In “Bucking The Trend

Forward Lady, Jackie Whiteley, has won gold in Business Link Yorkshire's Bucking the Trend competition. Around 60 businesses entered the competition, designed to highlight the region's "can do" approach to the recession. So impressive were the standard of entries that the shortlist was extended from 10 to 13. The four gold winners and six silver runners up were announced on June 5 at the International Business Convention VIP breakfast. Jackie received her award from Rosie Winterton, Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber. Companies were assessed on tenacity and innovation, a “can do” attitude and an ability to buck the trend of the current economic downturn. They had to deliver real, measurable results and to demonstrate exceptional and inspirational qualities to other companies.   No problem for Jackie. Innovation and growth are recognised aspects of the success of Strulch Ltd which she runs from her Burley-in-Wharfedale home and which has made an impact nationwide and abroad. The company’s organic garden mulch – “strulch” – based on a patent developed by her husband Dr Geoff Whitley, has been endorsed by well-known growers including The Eden Project, the Royal Horticultural Society, Kew, the Duke of Westminster’s Eaton Hall Estate and Alnwick Gardens, Northumbria.   Jackie says: “We are definitely bucking the trend. The business is growing well and I am very pleased with the way things are going. Our growth has been a big achievement for us and so it is pleasing to have it recognised in this way.”   The Business Link prize includes mentoring by Richard Gregory, an experienced non-executive director in both the private and public sectors. He is the Yorkshire Bank chair on the board of National Australia Group Europe Ltd, and is a director of its other UK bank, Clydesdale Bank PLC.   Jackie, who has also been nominated as Yorkshire Woman of Achievement, was one of the delegates to the last November’s Chamber International-organised manufacturers’ delegation to Milan.

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