In its first-ever virtual awards ceremony, the Institute of Directors has named our very own Helen Tonks as the North West & Isle of Man Director of the Year in the Family Business category.
Helen was announced as a finalist for the 2020 IoD North West Director of the Year Awards along with the other finalists in early March. At that time, the final was still being planned as a glittering ceremony at the Hilton Hotel on Deansgate, Manchester.
But with the impact of the coronavirus still being felt across the country, the Institute of Directors North West decided to hold the event virtually – for the first time in their sixteen-year history. On Wednesday 15th July 2020, Helen and her fellow nominees joined the hosts, sponsors and other participants in donning their evening wear at home to share in the excitement and celebration.
It’s fair to say that the accolade came as something as a shock to Helen, who, when announced as the winner commented, “I’ve never felt so nervous and excited in my own home!” She continued to explain, “Despite all that Hydraulics Online has achieved, I often feel that we’re only just getting started… a win last this just fuels me even more to drive the business further forward.”
It’s a well-deserved win for Helen who was originally nominated in the International category but instead asked to be part of the Family Business category in order to encourage other first-generation family businesses to be bold and set their sights high. At the time, Helen said, “I have very much grown with the business and hope to inspire other, younger family businesses if I am shortlisted, or successful.”
Vicky Szulist, a partner at the awards’ sponsor Manchester-based accountancy firm Crowe UK announced Helen’s win as part of the online ceremony hosted by Claire Ebrey, regional director for the Institute of Directors, and Mike Blackburn, regional chair for the Institute of Directors.
At the Forefront of British Business
The IoD is the UK’s longest-running organisation for directors from all sectors, shapes and size of organisation. Ever since its formation in 1903, the Institute of Directors (IoD) has been at the forefront of British business. The Royal Charter, received just three years later in 1906, charged the IoD with promoting free enterprise, lobbying government on behalf of its members and setting standards for corporate governance in the UK.
Congratulating the winners, Claire Ebrey, said: “While this year’s awards ceremony was very different than those in the past, we were delighted to have the opportunity to celebrate great directors and quality leadership in the region – especially at a time when they are facing huge commercial challenges.
“The awards embody the IoD’s motto of ‘integrity and enterprise’. Establishing and running a business is no mean feat. Doing that in a way that shines in our region, captures the imagination of other directors, and exemplifies good practice is truly marvellous. I am very proud to know and work with these winners and wish them huge congratulations.”
It has been quite a journey from the £900 start-up that began from a spare desk at husband-and-wife team Helen and Mark’s home! When the couple founded the business, Mark was responsible for putting the hydraulics into Hydraulics Online and Helen was the “everything else”. Even today, Helen’s role encompasses vision and strategy, marketing, our ISO 9001 accreditation, policies and legals, human resources, public speaking, finance and legislation, third-party and community engagement.
As a micro SME, Hydraulics Online very much punches above its weight – and this is in no small part down to the strength of our family business credentials as well as the awesome team who share Helen and Mark’s values and are on the journey every step of the way.
Congratulations to Helen and to the rest of the team who make such a win possible!