Ruth Lowbridge has been made an MBE for her Services to Entrepreneurs and UK business by the Queen at today’s Buckingham Palace ceremony.
Born in 1953 and brought up at Hartlepool Headland, the pursuit of entrepreneurial success has been a defining feature of Ruth’s entire life. Her mother, Mary Pattie, was a determined business woman who ran a successful boarding house for ten years and then went on to establish and run a baby linen and wool shop for many years. Having replicated her mother’s self-reliance and commitment to entrepreneurial innovation throughout her working life, Ruth took to the helm of SFEDI, the Sector Skills Organisation for enterprise and business support, just over ten years ago.
“I feel very honoured to receive this award in recognition of my work, which I couldn’t possibly have done or continue to do without the support of my wonderful family and the whole of the SFEDI team. Inspired by my mother, I have always strived to encourage new and existing small and micro business owners to make the most of themselves by developing their enterprising skills.”
Ruth’s early career saw her working with some of the UK’s most disenfranchised communities to promote and facilitate skills training amongst young people. She also worked with pre-release prisoners to improve their potential for successful re-entry into society through training and employment.
Over the years, Ruth has run a number of successful ventures including a bistro, a conference centre, a software company and a training consultancy. Today, she brings that vast wealth of experience and insight to her driving passion – helping others to fulfil their entrepreneurial potential.
As someone from a relatively modest Hartlepool background, the SFEDI Group Executive Chair described herself as ‘humbled’ by the Honour, which came as a complete surprise to her:
“I’m extremely proud and humbled to be recognised in this way. When I received the offer letter, I actually thought that they must have mistaken me for someone much more important! However, it does prove that with the right support and determination anything is possible – who could have guessed that the girl with the school report that always said ‘could do better’ actually would!”
Ruth has been instrumental in redefining the enterprise skills landscape on a regional, national and international level. Because of her, the way that enterprise skills training is delivered, accredited and promoted has undergone dramatic and positive change.
Additionally, throughout her varied career, Ruth has always been a firm advocate of the value of enterprise mentoring. Having benefited from the input of good mentoring early in her own working life, Ruth has gone on to both become a lifelong enterprise mentor herself and to implement the IOEE’s fantastic Meet a Mentor initiative.
For five years, Meet a Mentor has been connecting experienced enterprise mentors with enthusiastic new entrepreneurs in order that valuable knowledge and experience may be passed on to the small and micro businesses that form the UK’s economic backbone. Ruth anticipates that this sterling work will only continue to enrich our ambitious enterprise communities. She said:
“I am looking forward to sharing the work of our SFEDI and IOEE family team with many more business owners, helping them to start-up, survive, thrive and feel good about themselves and their futures in the process.”
The SFEDI and IOEE team would like to congratulate Ruth Lowbridge on this much deserved achievement and recognition of her dedication and support to entrepreneurs and UK business.