THE winners of the first Hampshire Women’s Business Awards have been announced.

Winner of business of the year and phenomenal product was My VIP Card, run by Maddy Alexander-Grout - which will celebrate its first anniversary on December 1.

She received her awards atgala dinner at St Mary’s Football Stadium attended by more than 180.

My VIP Card is a discount card and employee benefit scheme, covering Hampshire, which helps individuals and businesses to shop locally and save money by providing over 4,000 discounts.

It advertises more then 600 Hampshire based businesses to their card holders for free.

Maddy who spent 10 years working in recruitment and five in learning and development started the business after a bout of post natal depression.

Following the birth of her son Ben, Maddy set up the Southampton baby and toddler forum as a support network for parents who were in the same boat.

It grew quickly and she started to allow businesses to advertise for free, she started to arrange discounted soft play and coffee for the parents in the group and one night in mid July 2017 she had a light bulb moment of consolidating the offers and growing it into a card for parents, it was meant to be a hobby but when she launched in December 2017 with 80 companies offering discount it was already very popular.

In March 2018 Maddy was made redundant from her day job and decided to give herself three months to try and make the card into a “proper business”.

In July 2018 she launched the card to the general public and added a business category to the website and started to get deals for small businesses and corporate deals.

She donates a small part from subscription bought to charity and is working with Breast Cancer Haven , No Limits and The Honeypot Children’s charity.

She has also found time to have a second child.

"I am so overwhelmed and incredibly grateful to have won these awards. I am excited about what the future holds for My VIP Card and I can’t wait to shout about this from the rooftops!

I want to be a household name in the Hampshire area and I want local businesses and individuals to understand the value of the card and what it can save them."

The Awards were organised by Trudy Simmons who runs the Hampshire Women’s Business Facebook group.

Trudy set up the Facebook group last year to provide business women across Hampshire a place to receive support and guidance to expand their businesses. It now has more than 2,900 members whose businesses range from legal services to web design to corporate photography to cafes and restaurants.

In total more than 100 businesses were nominated across the eight awards. Nominations were announced in August and more than 9,800 votes were cast

Trudy said: “The awards evening was a very special night and it was amazing to see so many tenacious and dedicated businesswomen in one room. The atmosphere was electric. I would like to I would like to congratulate all our winner and finalists. Each one of them demonstrates excellent service and a great business mind.

“I am delighted with how many entries we received and how many votes were cast. Women in business needs to be celebrated. There is still a misconception that female business owners are just running hobby businesses – that is not the case and the amount of strong, inspiration businesswomen that have been involved in these Awards demonstrates that. I cannot wait to start planning next year’s event.”

The winners were:

Beautiful Bricks and Mortar: Sarah Guilder – Bay Leaves Larder, Chandlers Ford

Dream Big: Belinda Sampson – Bella Craft, Fair Oak

Entrepreneurial Spirit: Jackie Neat – The Whimsical Kitchen, Southampton

Local Spirit: Karina Artun – Theatre Train, Southampton

Phenomenal Product: Maddy Alexander-Grout – My VIP Card, Southampton

Reach for the Stars: Suzy Dierckx – Sociable Suzy, Winchester

Super Service: Charlotte Barsby & Joanna Cutting – Brief Marketing, Basingstoke

Hampshire Women’s Business of the Year: Maddy Alexander-Grout – My VIP Card, Southampton