FEMALE entrepreneurship and business acumen are being celebrated as five of York’s top businesswomen are nominated for regional awards.

Organisers of this year’s Barclays-Forward Ladies Women in Business Awards say the annual contest has attracted “the most diverse and largest ever number of entries since the awards began”.

However, shining through from the York area to win a place in the finalists list for Yorkshire and the North East are Lesley Buxton of Yorvale Ice Cream, Elaine Tarver of Pension & Benefit Services, Maria Florou of Cedar Court Grand Hotel, Sue Nelson of Yorkshire Food Finder, and Ann Dunford of Garbutt & Elliott.

Further afield Liz Devine-Wright of Simply Devine in Tadcaster, and Joanne Wilkinson of My Possible Self and Jacqui Hall of CNG, both in Harrogate, also made the shortlist.

Caroline Pullich, head of Relationship Banking for Barclays in Yorkshire and the North East, said: “At Barclays we recognise that women in business are a major contributor to the UK economy and we’re delighted to be partnering with Forward Ladies again, celebrating exceptional achievements in tough economic trading conditions.

“We have been amazed at the volume and calibre of the entries, which proves there are some fantastic businesses out there competing in what is set to become one of the country’s top awards for business and professional women.”

In the running for two awards is Lesley Buxton, a previous winner in the Women in Business Awards who has been shortlisted in the SME business category as well as the home-based category.

She and her husband have taken Yorvale from a single ice cream van to a £1 million business supplying local and national companies and prestigious accounts such as Saga Cruise Liners and York Racecourse.

Elaine Tarver is managing director of Pension & Benefit Services, joining the company in 1991 before becoming the sole shareholder and MD in 2001. After the loss of a major client, she resized the business, and with renewed enthusiasm has overcome challenges to win new clients with a competitive solution and fee structure.

The Cedar Court Grand Hotel’s general manager, Maria Florou, is a finalist in the Professional/ Corporate Businesswoman category in light of her work that has helped the business become the only 5-star hotel in Yorkshire, turning over £6.8 million, of which £1.5 million was profit.

The Start-up Businesswoman category features Sue Nelson as a finalist in recognition of her work designing culinary trails celebrating the Yorkshire traditions of rearing, fishing, making, growing or cooking fresh regional food. Sue is also a journalist and writes a weekly column for The Press every Monday.

Garbutt & Elliot’s Ann Dunford is shortlisted for the PA of the Year award. A PA to one of the accountancy firm’s senior partners, she is a tri-lingual PA with board-level experience across a wide range of industries, including accounting and business services, property development, construction, food and sports management. Mrs Dunford organises both internal and external events for the company, sourcing and organises events across three offices in the north, as well as running twice-yearly external women’s networking events.

Liz Devine-Wright is shortlisted for Retail Businesswoman of the Year, Jacqui Hall is a contender for Corporate Leader and Joanne Wilkinson is a finalist for Not for Profit Businesswoman.

The awards are being held at the Queens Hotel in Leeds on November 15.