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Gail Curry of Happy Planet Creative Arts in Whitley Bay is winning recognition for her Entrepreneurial Spirit after taking home an award at the 2019 Natwest Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

Now in its seventh year, the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards celebrates the hard work and inspiring stories of entrepreneurs, rather than the business’ balance sheet. 2019 is the first time the Awards have held a dedicated regional final in the North East.

Held at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts on the 5th November, Gail was named winner of the Entrepreneurial Spirit award in credit to her role as both a local artist and owner of Happy Planet Creative Arts in Whitley Bay.

Gail, from North Shields, impressed the judges with her ability to lead the way in the local creative sector despite facing a number of challenges that could have hindered her ability to press forward with Happy Planet Creative Arts.

Gail Curry said: “I was absolutely delighted to be awarded the entrepreneurial spirit award at the Great British Entrepreneur North East regional final.  It’s been a difficult few years ensuring that the business has the opportunity to thrive and the award acknowledges my determination to create opportunities for artists in the area is never in vain. 

“As those that know me or engage with Happy Planet Art are aware, I run the business despite facing mental health issues and losing my speech.  I put my heart and soul into my business and choose to use my abilities to overcome the challenges rather than allow my disabilities to hold me back.

“I choose to find solutions to problems however, and ensure that Happy Planet continues in spite of my own difficulties.  I am incredibly grateful that this has been recognised by the judging team.”

Happy Planet Creative Arts is a social enterprise in Whitley Bay showcasing the works of artists from all over the region in a retail space dedicated to providing a platform for smaller creative businesses and individuals seeking to connect with customers. It also encourages others to embrace their creativity for the benefit of their well being with workshops run by Gail and other artists.

North Tyneside Council’s Business Factory and TEDCO Business Support assisted Gail in her start-up journey to launch Happy Planet Creative Arts from the current shop unit in Whitley Bay.  Business advisor Janice Ross has helped every step of the way with business planning and one-to-one mentorship but crucially, helped Gail overcome a number of challenges at key points in the start-up process.

Gail continues: “I consider Janice to be a friend as well as mentor and having Janice with me as chaperone at the ceremony gave me the confidence I needed to attend.  Leaving with an award really does make the hard work of running Happy Planet Creative Arts worthwhile and I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the judges but also thank you to our customers, artists and supporters who help make Happy Planet such a success.”

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