Freelance Consultant Award Shortlisted Winners

Helen O' Grady Shortlisted Winners

In association with  Remote Worker Awards in association with BT Business

Remote Employment and BT Business are delighted to announce the short listed winners in The Freelance Consultant Award. The Freelance Consultant Awardappealed to hundreds of freelancers and consultants across the country, who work either on site or remotely and at home on freelance projects and freelance consultancy for their clients.

Winning Ceremony
The Remote Worker Awards will culminate in a winning ceremony at the stunning
Cliveden House in Berkshire on 10th September, where the shortlisted winners will find out if they ahve won this superb prize that will change their working life!

Short Listed Winners
These freelancers are the best entrants who demonstrated how their remote and home working solutions benefit both their company and their clients. They are now in the running to win a range of fantastic prizes!

Sore Thumb Marketing 
Julie Wilson is from Farndon, Newark Notts
Having worked in marketing for Boots Head Office for over 17 years, Julie decided to take up an offer for voluntary redundancy to enable her to review her career path and work life balance, which at the time was pretty poor, being mum to two young boys, as well as working full time and travelling over an hour in the car each way to work every day.Julie is in the running for The Freelance Consultant Award

Initially, after leaving Boots, Julie worked for a local small publishing company that gave her much more of an opportunity to find creative ways to maximize low budgets. She realized the potential of PR, reciprocal deals and email marketing to mention a few and after a couple of years, decided to try and set up her own business and offer her 20 plus years of marketing experience to other local companies and SMEs.

It was a big decision, not only to work alone most of the time and loose that office chit chat, but also to give up the comfort of getting a guaranteed pay cheque each month. Julie networked like mad for about a year, joined several networking websites and business clubs, and found herself with three clients which was the ‘comfort’ Julie needed to take the plunge and become self employed.

Julie didn’t need any finance. She already had a computer and a phone and really that’s all she required. She made the smallest bedroom of her house into an office and had to buy some office furniture and a  backup system for her PC but still kept her start up costs very low – less than £500 in total.

To date, virtually all her work has come from word of mouth or recommendation. She has found most of her clients actually want a marketing and PR manager working for them all the time but cannot justify additional permanent resource. Her freelance services provide the perfect flexibility and help companies to accelerate the rate at which they grow but keep their marketing cost in check.

She is never complacent and is always looking for new opportunities. As well as new clients, she has been successful in securing work with Business Link and in July gave a couple of workshops for small businesses in the area, to help them market their business in a recession. The feedback was so positive that she is due to do more workshops from September onwards. Not only is this a revenue stream for Julie, but it also allows her to highlight her many services to local businesses and prospect for free!

Julie said: “Being self employed and working from home has really helped me with my work / life balance, caring for my children (aged 11 and 7) and given me great job satisfaction too. I don’t find it lonely at all as I’m really busy and always talking to journalists and clients on the phone and via a web cam too.

I also make sure I get out and meet with my clients and attend a few networking meetings too. And it’s great (and eco friendly too) just walking up stairs to my office each morning – no rush hour commute for me! It’s the best thing I’ve ever done and although scary at the time, was definitely the right decision for me and I’d encourage more people to do the same and take the plunge!”

“I am thrilled to be shortlisted for this award. I started freelancing around 18 months ago and have never looked back. I really enjoy the variety my work offers me and of course the flexibility is fantastic too. I’m really looking forward to attending the awards ceremony on 10th September and meeting all the other shortlisted candidates, and hope I’m lucky enough to be chosen as the overall winner!”

Infamy Infamy 
Penny-Sue Wolfe is from Cowes on the Isle of Wight
Penny-Sue has three passions in her life: education, art and rural life; so when she was made redundantPenny Sue is in the running for the Freelance Consultant Award in July as an E2E Tutor she decided to combine these passions as a self-employed consultant.

Now Penny-Sue can fit work around family and farm life. She does consultancy work for Kendalls Fine Art ( and tutors 14-16 year olds in Enterprise Capabilities for Smart Training and Recruitment ( She also runs private courses in anything from butter making (very popular) to stress management, a percentage of which goes to charity. All of her courses are personally hand written.

Penny-Sue completed a BA (Hons) degree in Art History with the Open University in 2000 whilst working full time in Prison Service Psychology tutoring Offending Behaviour Programmes and having two babies. She said: “I am a great advocate of life long learning”.

When Penny-Sue is not working she home educates her youngest child and helps out on their farm. She is married to Justin and they have two children; Benedict (13) and Anastasia (11).

Penny-Sue said: “It is amazing and exciting to have been shortlisted for such an enterprising award. All of the candidates are innovative. I am lucky to do what I love with the support of a fun loving family. If just one person / young adult is inspired to learn through what I show them, then my work is done”.

Janet Penny Photography 
Janet Penny is from Tonbridge, Kent
For 15 years Janet commuted to London to work, initially full time but then part time when she had Janet is in the running for The Freelance Consultant Awardchildren. Her life revolved around the train timetable and she spent many hours on rainy platforms waiting for late trains and missing her boys’ bedtime. That all changed 18 months ago, when she decided to leave work and take a risk to follow her passion, photography, and work from home.

Now she is always just a few steps away from her office – the dining room table. She can spend the time she wants to with her children, drop in on her in-laws and still get her work done.

Her home office consists of a laptop, mobile phone, wireless broadband connection, DAB radio and the teapot. She is less stressed, more focussed and willing to take on the challenges of an exciting career change. As such she is able to offer clients a relaxed, friendly and yet professional service, a great advantage to all concerned.

She said: "I am delighted to be shortlisted for this exciting prize as it reflects my belief in home working being the way forward for many people. Being a home worker for the last 18 months has given me a fantastic work life balance. I am less stressed and more focussed and I love travelling just a few steps to my office each day."

Debbi Scholes 
Debbi Scholes is from London
Being shortlisted for the Freelance Consultant Award is a prime example of how success is only achievedDebbie is in the running for The Freelance Consultant Award if you go out and aim for it. Long gone are the days when you could sit back and wait for work, praise, rewards, whatever to come your way. Now you have to go out and make it happen and the reward is all the sweeter for it!

Debbi has been a freelance journalist/editor/copywriter/proof reader for the past 18 years and has had a very good time overall. While she certainly puts in the hours, even producing four magazines while travelling South America, the flexibility of being freelance, with the freedom to take on a wide range of projects and subject matters, would be the envy of many.

However, in the current climate, with increasing numbers of people considering making the move to working from home, competition is fierce and Debbi feels that now's the perfect time for all those unsung heroes to stand up and be recognised, so thank you Remote Employment!

Small  Office Solutions 
Derek Pattenson is from Watford, Hertfordshire
Small Office Solutions was set up by Derek in the mid-‘90s, in response to an “SOS” from the growingDerek is in the running for The Freelance Consultant Award number of people working from small or home offices, either on their own or as part of a larger organisation, who needed help with their IT systems. As technology developed, Derek was soon able to work from home himself, connecting to clients’ systems remotely. The growth of the internet created a whole new demand from small businesses needing a presence on the web.

Today, Derek serves both home workers and larger companies, providing an expert, flexible solution to their IT skill requirements. Clients are drawn not only from across Britain, but across the globe, distance having no impact on Derek’s ability to deliver first-class service. In fact, in many cases working in a different time-zone can have positive benefits, and with the freedom of home working, Derek can always be available for calls and instant messaging.

Taking advantage of the flexibility that both being your own boss and working from home brings, Derek has been able to take a greater share of family responsibilities than if he’d been commuting to a “day job”, and this has also given greater opportunities to his wife to pursue her own career.

Derek’s view is that as a freelance consultant, customer service is paramount. There’s no reason why a customer should get less than a first-rate, professional service just because their consultant may be working from his garden that day. Commitment to quality of service is reflected in Derek achieving full ISO9001:2000 certification for Small Office Solutions’ quality management system, and in the importance he puts on customer feedback. He delights in exceeding clients’ expectations, and gets a real kick out of solving seemingly insurmountable problems.

Working with several customers concurrently, Derek has found that repeat business – and referrals – are keeping him busy. He’s now able to share the remote-working approach by out-sourcing some of the development work to other freelancers. He also regularly shares ideas, problems and successes with other freelancers through online forums, the Professional Contractors’ Group and face-to-face networking events, thus avoiding any risk of isolation, and always keeping Small Office Solutions up-to-speed with industry trends.

Being shortlisted for this award is a huge honour, as there are so very many workers in all professions working from their homes, and being selected to represent them and raise their profile is a great privilege.

Derek said: "I feel hugely honoured to have been shortlisted for the Freelance Consultant Award from Remote Employment. There are so many unsung heroes working from home; they don’t clog up the motorways, pack the trains or pour out of office blocks, but they make a huge contribution to modern life. Being selected out of all of these, not just to potentially win an award, but also to represent them and raise their profile, is a real privilege."

Freelance Health and Fitness Writer
Sarah Russell is from Wadhurst, East Susssex

Sarah Russell is a freelance health and fitness writer and sports PR consultant. She has a MastersSarah Russell is in the running for The Freelance Consultant Award degree in sport science, is a competitive runner, triathlete and event organiser of the award winning Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon (

She is married to John and is devoted mum to boys Edward (10) and Charlie (7). She has worked in the fitness industry for over 17 years mainly as a personal trainer working with clients in their homes and coaching running groups. However two years ago, after the death of her father, she found she wanted to take a new direction, but still using her knowledge and skills, and a friend encouraged her to start writing.

Within just a few months she had published articles online and in magazines about health, sport and running. Only 18 months later, she is now a section Editor for Running Fitness magazine ( and writes regularly for and Womens Weekly magazine, as well as contributing to a book on marathon running due to be published in October 2009.  

She has also become involved in marketing and promotion for triathlon and running events in the South East and works as a freelance PR consultant for, one of the UK's most successful sport event organisers. By her own admission, she is overwhelmed by how quickly her career has changed and the success of her writing and PR work, and she feels that she is now at an exciting crossroads in her life.  Winning this award would help Sarah put together a more focused and structured service for her clients and promote herself as a professional PR consultant and sought-after freelance writer.

Sarah said: "I'm absolutely thrilled, if not a little shocked, to be shortlisted for this prestigious award.  A friend persuaded me to enter and I never thought for a million years that I would get shortlisted.  I am really just a mum who works at home, so to be selected alongside such strong candidates is really exciting. 

Even though I wouldn't have it any other way, working from home can sometimes mean you miss out on the recognition and feedback you get in an office or organisation.  The Remote Employment awards are a brilliant idea and will provide some of that recognition and networking opportunities for people who work from home and promote the benefits of 'remote working."

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