Speech and accent coach Luke Nicholson and photographer Nisha Haq were crowned Freelancers of the Year by IPSE at a glittering awards ceremony to celebrate National Freelancers Day on Thursday (8 June).
Luke, and his London-based business Improve Your Accent, takes home the Inspire Award, to recognise the best, established freelancer aged 24 and over, while Southampton’s Nisha was crowned the Aspire winner for the best up-and-coming freelancer aged 23 and under.
Luke takes home £5,000 prize money to put towards his business while Nisha receives £3,000.
Melissa Holloway, a copywriter based in London, and business coach and strategist Chichi Eruchalu finished as runners up in the Inspire category. All the finalists receive IPSE membership and subscriptions to industry tools and software contributed by the event’s sponsors.
In a first for this year’s awards ceremony, Katy Carlisle’s Freelance Folk was crowned IPSE’s Ambassador of the Year, Work.Life in Camden was awarded the Co-working Space of the Year and Middlesex the University Partner of the Year Award.
To mark the day IPSE published new research which shows freelancers are much happier and more motivated than employees. The research can be read in full here.
The awards, the centrepiece of the ninth annual National Freelancers Day, recognise excellence in freelancing. The 15 finalists across both categories were judged on the strength of their portfolio, their passion and commitment to freelancing, business acumen and the creativity and distinctiveness of their offering.
Upon winning the Inspire Award, Luke said: “I'm delighted to have won the Inspire UK Freelancer of the Year award, and humbled given the quality of the other candidates. Winning this prize gives me the boost I need to grow and develop my business. It’s such an honour to receive acknowledgement from the freelancer industry. Thank you, IPSE!”
Nisha added: “What a fantastic honour! To be regarded amongst so many amazing freelancers across the country is incredible. I feel so much more confident to take my photography business full-time. I almost wasn’t going to apply as I felt I wasn’t good enough and I think many freelancers battle with this, but IPSE has shown me that anything is possible.”
Chris Bryce, IPSE CEO, said: “All 15 of our finalists should be extremely proud of what they have achieved so far in their careers and we are proud to be able to celebrate them. Having spoken to the judges I know selecting two winners was an extremely challenging task but Luke and Nisha are worthy winners. Congratulations to them both, and indeed, all 15 of our finalists who are fantastic advocates of freelancing and what IPSE tries to embody with these awards.”
James Gribben, a member of the judging panel said: “The judging day for the awards is always the highlight of my year. As a judge I get to meet 15 of the finest freelancers working in the UK. My fellow judges and I had an incredibly difficult time selecting our winners as all the finalists had many strengths and were leaders in their fields.
“Luke had identified a real niche with his business. He is making fantastic use of social media to promote himself and further his career, and has a comprehensive and considered business plan for the immediate, and longer-term future. Nisha bowled us over with her enthusiasm for freelancing and her passion for her work shone through. She also demonstrated where she could take her business.”
Also nominated for the Inspire Award was Yoni Alter, Mandy Barker, Charlotte Beevor, Rich Daley, Alexy Dury, Phil Richardson and Michael Trew. Abigail and Chloe Baldwin, Charlotte Haldane, Carl Lonsdale, Adam Smith joined Nisha in the final of the Aspire Awards.