A GUISELEY businesswoman has been shortlisted for a prestigious professional award.

Clare Brophy will go through to the regional finals in the Forward Ladies Women in Business Awards for her role in building a stairlift company, part of the multi-national Handicare Group, which provides daily living aids for disabled or elderly people.

Clare, who co-founded Companion Stairlifts in 2003, said it was a gamble to take on the big names in the market, but that the company, which has formed a strategic partnership with Age UK, has become a major player.

Mother-of-four, Clare, started her first business – a dance school – at the age of 13. She and her stairlift company have been shortlisted in two categories – retail and SME Growth.

She said: "It’s a real honour to be shortlisted in this year’s Women in Business awards and I’d like to thank my team for the part they have played in the success of Companion.

"I think it’s hugely important that women have the right role models to inspire them and to give them the courage to chase their dreams, whatever they may be. I knew from an early age that I wanted to make a difference, and I hope that I can share my experiences with others and inspire them to achieve their ambitions."

Forward Ladies managing director, Griselda Togobo, said: "This has been a fantastic year for women.

"We continue to start, grow and run high-profile successful companies. We have been surprised and delighted by the number and calibre and diversity of the applications we have received, and look forward to celebrating their success.

"The award categories are a reflection not only of the types of businesses with which women are involved, but also industries that need to attract and encourage young women to join for future growth and prosperity."

Clare will join the other shortlisted applicants for the regional final at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Newcastle on October 14. Regional winners will then be invited to appear before a live judging interview panel in November, followed by the national final in Leeds in December.

Handicare has recently made a gift of specialist seating to Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice in Leeds.

Clare said: "We know the team at Wheatfields do a fantastic job and we’re delighted to help them with this donation, which we hope will make a difference for visitors, residents and carers at the hospice."

Kate Eagle, therapy team leader at the hospice, said: "The donation is really appreciated.

"The chairs will help the patients immensely, particularly those with difficulty sitting as they give postural support. This means the patients are able to get out of bed and be more independent, whilst improving their overall wellbeing."

Along with three chairs, two sofas have also been donated for use in public areas of the hospice.