Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ambassadors
Lawrence Jones MBE
Lawrence is the CEO of Manchester-based hosting firm, UKFast.
With more than 30 years’ business experience, Lawrence is at the helm of a business portfolio including a cybersecurity firm, a Swiss ski hotel and a construction business.
Lawrence has a unique approach to employee engagement and his philanthropy has seen him transform the lives of thousands of people by helping to raise millions of pounds, donating his time and that of his team, and investing heavily in education and development.
Raabiyah Shah, daughter of the High Sheriff Robina has come onboard as an ambassador of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Jen Blackwell is the Founder and Director of DanceSyndrome, an inclusive dance charity which aims to empower people with and without disabilities to work together to become dancers, leaders and valued members of their communities.
Jen founded the charity after she spent 10 years unsuccessfully searching for suitable dance leadership training that was accessible to a person with a learning disability.
Jen didn’t believe her disability should be a barrier to following her dreams and pursuing her passion for dance and she now inspires many people to accept this “ability, not disability” focus through her dance performances and public speaking opportunities.
Honoured with an OBE for her services to Social Enterprise and Women’s Enterprise in the North West, Melanie is the multi-award winning founder of WhyNotChange Limited and the North West Women’s Enterprise Day.
Despite experience of a huge range of companies and working environments gained in senior roles within financial institutions, the Co-operative Group and as a global management consultant; Melanie describes founding WhyNotChange in 2009 as her steepest, scariest, but most rewarding learning curve!
Passionate about giving back, Melanie is currently on a mission to ensure that every amazing person who makes an extraordinary difference in our communities is recognised through a national honour.
Her accolades include National Enterprise Support Champion, Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship (recognising national eminence), UK’s Top 50 Business Advisor, and being named as one of the Maserati 100 for mentoring and advice.
However, the title that makes Melanie smile most is Super Nana given to her by her autistic grandson. You’ll find her at weekends in sparkly wellies in the woods dinosaur and fairy hunting with her 3 grandchildren – despite spotting plenty, they are yet to catch one!