Businesswoman of the Year Award 2008

Businesswoman Hilary Devey, founder, CEO and Chairman at Pall-Ex Group, has won a close fought contest between six highly successful women, to earn the title of Businesswoman of the Year 2008.

The celebratory luncheon took place today at the Birmingham Metropole Hotel, and was hosted by ITV1 presenter Arti Halai and included keynote speeches from last year's winner, Karren Brady, the managing director at Birmingham FC and Silla Maizey, head of corporate social responsibility at British Airways.

Hilary was born and raised in Bolton and founded Pall-Ex, based in Ellistown, Leicestershire, in 1996. Since then she has worked tirelessly in the male-orientated world of haulage to grow what was a small operation into a multi-million pound palletised freight distribution network with a purpose built hub and logistics centre, employing more than 200 people.

Hilary was most recently featured on Channel 4's popular reality show, 'Secret Millionaire' programme in September 2008. On the programme she had to swap her luxurious house for a run-down council-flat in Rochdale. She discovered a number of worthwhile projects in the area including Syke, a local community centre, to which she gave financial donations and enabled these projects to survive and flourish.

The Vitalise Businesswoman of the Year award aims to recognise the contribution women make to the economy, celebrating female talent, ability and achievement all traits that the panel of judges felt were abundant in Hilary thanks to the nomination that was originally submitted by one of her directors.

Judy Groves, group marketing director at sponsor SCC and chair of the judging panel, commented: "The success that Hilary has achieved and the sacrifices that she has made in order to 'make-it' are truly inspiring. She spotted an opportunity and had the vision and tenacity to develop her company in a relatively short time-span. Hilary reflects everything that this award stands for and she is a deserved winner.

"A special mention goes to Suzie Norton, CEO of Screen West Midlands who, as a young woman who has already accomplished so much and has the drive and ambition to continue to excel, made our decision particularly difficult this year. We hope to see Suzie and many other nominations recognising those successful businesswomen in the area, at next year's event."

John Spence, chairman of Vitalise and recipient of an OBE for services to charity, also spoke at the event. The award is generously supported by sponsors Barclays, Jaguar, KPMG, SCC, Secantor, and Selfridges & Co, all of whom were involved in the judging.

Hilary was up against five other strong contenders for the Businesswoman of the Year award Lesley Cowley, CEO at Nominet; Suzie Norton, CEO at Screen West Midlands; Karen Tirebuck, managing director at Tirebuck Career Solutions; Maxine Woolley, director at Casepak/Oceala Ltd; Sally Davis, managing director of group catering at NEC Group.

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