Sir Stelios pledges record prize money to UK Disability – Stelios Awards for Disabled Entrepreneurs in the UK 2019

Disabled Awards UK 2019

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, easyJet founder and philanthropist, and disability charity Leonard Cheshire are proud to launch the largest ever financial prize for disabled entrepreneurs in the UK.  

Prize money totalling £100,000 will be available from this year onwards, which will mean that in addition to the top prize of £30,000, and a finalist prize of £10,000 per person currently awarded to the winning disabled entrepreneurs chosen by Sir Stelios, smaller prizes of £5,000 will also be available. 

All applicants will also be considered for ‘The Judge’s Prize’, a discretionary prize with a maximum of £10,000 chosen by independent judges that will recognise start-up or running businesses that show exceptional promise, but do not fit the standard award criteria.

Sir Stelios and Leonard Cheshire CEO Neil Heslop officially opened entries for this year’s expanded Stelios Award at a reception in London (6 June), attended by stars, top City figures, business leaders, and past Stelios Award winners including easyTravelseat inventor Josh Wintersgill and Traveleyes founder, and BBC presenter Amar Latif.  

Sir Stelios said:
“I’ve never ceased to be amazed and impressed by the sheer range and ingenuity of the business ideas we get to see every year. Whether it’s a travel agency for the blind, an app to help mental health sufferers manage their condition or a travel seat to assist the disabled when boarding aircraft, the horizons now often appear limitless.

“And that’s how it should be. For too long we have pigeon-holed disabled people as a burden to be carried rather than a human resource to be developed and encouraged as we would any other. Here in the twenty-first century – far too many companies still turn their back on this fact. I think this award shows just what they’re missing.”

Neil Heslop, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire, said:
“We are thrilled that Sir Stelios has continued his support for this Award, which presents a golden opportunity for disabled entrepreneurs hoping to launch and build their businesses. 

“Entrepreneurship is a key route to prosperity for many disabled people, particularly given the challenge of the employment landscape.” 

Jointly run by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation ( and disability charity Leonard Cheshire ( since 2006, the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs UK recognises the exceptional achievements of disabled entrepreneurs who have set up their own company and excel in their chosen business field.

All forms of entrepreneurship will be eligible to apply, including start-ups, social enterprise or up and running businesses, which are at least 50% owned by disabled people. 

Applications are open from today (6 June) at, and close at 5pm on Monday 16 September. The over-all winner will receive their grand prize of £30,000 at an Awards ceremony on Wednesday30 October 2019. Four runners up will receive prizes of £10,000 each.  

Previous winners have included Josh Wintersgill, who has just debuted his easyTravelseat at airports around the UK, and Amar Latif, who went on to become a broadcaster on BBC and Channel 4.  

Five independent international judges with lived experience of disability, and the experience of a range of industries or sectors will be announced later in the year to join the judging panel for this year’s awards.  

The Criteria for the 2019 Awards are:

  • The award is open to disabled applicants operating in the UK only.  We use the Equality Act 2010 definition of disability, which also includes long-term mental and physical health conditions. If you have any queries about your eligibility, please contact us at
  • The award is open to registered and not-yet-registered companies, charities and social enterprises.
  • To be eligible, a disabled entrepreneur must own at least 50 per cent of the company.
  • The company must be at most seven years old.
  • The applicant must have an active online presence.
  • Past winners and/or applicants are welcome to re-apply.

For full details on eligibility and an application form please visit the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation Facebook page: or Alternative application formats are available on request at: Closing date for applications is 5pm on 16 September.

For media enquiries please contact Samuel Buckley, External Communications Officer, Leonard Cheshire, on or by phone on 020 3242 0204.

For requests to interview Sir Stelios, please contact Richard Shackleton, Communications Director, by email on or phone on 07905 779 799.

For Prize enquiries, please contact the Stelios Awards Hot line on: 07740 515 957 or


Notes for Editors

We are Leonard Cheshire – supporting individuals to live, learn and work as independently as they choose, whatever their ability. Led by people with experience of disability, we are at the heart of local life – opening doors to opportunity, choice and support in communities around the globe. Leading by example, we do everything humanly possible to empower people to live their lives as freely and as fully as they choose.

Visit: or follow us on twitter: @leonardcheshire

The Stelios Philanthropic Foundation is a registered charity in both Monaco and the UK which backs a number of charitable initiatives in the UK, Greece and Cyprus. The Foundation gives support in four main areas: scholarships, supporting entrepreneurship with cash prizes, donating money to environmental and other charities and operating a poverty relief programme in Greece and Cyprus – “Food from the heart”.