Wow, what an amazing month we’ve had!

Over the past few weeks, Team GBEA have travelled over 1,500 miles by road and air for the Celebration Evenings in each of our five cities. From Cardiff to Edinburgh, Birmingham to Manchester and finishing off in London, we’ve met nearly 1,000 people including judges, sponsors, partners and of course, finalists!

In fact, we finished off this round of events with our largest ever Celebration Evening just this week at the magnificent Coutts venue in London, where we were joined by 250 of you.

At each event, we were lucky enough to be joined by some of our esteemed previous winners and judges to give some intriguing insight into their entrepreneurial journeys and what it’s like to win. 2017 Great British Entrepreneur of the Year winners, Hannah & Sophie Pycroft from Spectrum Collections, told the audience how much value they’ve gained from the whole experience of entering the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

In Edinburgh, Bruce Walker from Future X recalled his incredible trip to Silicon Valley when he was just starting out, and how his bold tactics earned him meetings with some of the biggest tech companies in the world. In Birmingham, Poundland founder Steven Smith told the wonderful story of how he went from his parents’ market stall in the 60s to the multi-million-pound discount retailer we all know today.

In Manchester, we were joined by Social Chain co-founder Dominic McGregor, who defined an entrepreneur has someone who “wants to build a better world”. And finally, in London we saw serial entrepreneur and investor Lara Morgan, who gave the audience some typically no-nonsense advice on the guts it takes to run and build your business the way you want.

A quick shout out to our founder Francesca, who missed two of the Celebration Evenings. But for a very good reason! She spent 10 days in the US cycling 600 miles from San Francisco to LA to raise money for Velindre, a cancer treatment centre in Cardiff. Of course, she couldn’t return without adding a cycling analogy to her speech – explaining that “both cycling and entrepreneurship require relentless determination, hunger for adventure, tolerance for risk, and teamwork”.

However, by far the best and most inspiring part of the past month has been meeting all the finalists. Team GBEA loves the work we do every day, but hearing your stories in person, hearing why you entered the Awards and how excited you are to be shortlisted has given us some brand new, extra motivation to champion the work you do!

Running these events and travelling to each city has definitely been tiring, but you’ve made it more than worthwhile.

Now it’s onto business with the Gala Finals in November. And we can’t wait to crown this year’s group of Great British Entrepreneurs!

Roll on November.