Donna O'Toole, Queen's Awards for Enterprise winner SwimTrek

Meet one of our Queen’s Awards winners…

Business Awards

By Donna O’Toole

SwimTrek – The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise winners swimming their way to success!

Back in 2000, Simon Murie (pictured above) had a dream; to recreate Lord Byron’s infamous swim across the Hellespont – a stretch of open water dividing Europe and Asia which was made famous in Greek Mythology by Leander’s nightly swims to see his lover Hero.

So off he went to Turkey to attempt the swim himself, unaware of all the complications and permissions that would be required to undertake such a swim. After spending a week organising the event between the coastguard, the army, the council, and a local pilot who would take him across the water, he completed the swim in just under an hour!

Simon quickly saw the gap in the market to help swimmers to realise their dreams, without having to worry about all the hard work behind organising the event. And so SwimTrek was born. A business that has since helped thousands of people to achieve their open-water swimming dreams, safely and securely in over 40 magical locations worldwide.

Little did Simon know that 17 Years later, his childhood dream would see his business becoming the proud recipient of a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category.

So how did he do it and how can you turn your dream into recognition from Her Majesty The Queen in the most prestigious awards competition in the world?

Simon and I met by chance at Acumen business conference in 2016. At that time SwimTrek had been growing rapidly, and like many business owners, Simon had put all his focus into his customers and his team, and not had the time to consider whether they could be ready to win some awards.

We discussed SwimTrek’s growth, what they did, and how they did it, and all the benefits this brought to their customers, teams, and locals worldwide. I identified their potential ‘win theme’ and suggested to Simon that actually now was the time for him to get some well-deserved recognition for the business and take a plunge into some new unknown waters – business awards. But not just any old business awards, I recommended that SwimTrek entered the most prestigious awards programme in the world – The Queen’s Awards!

With a busy summer ahead for SwimTrek, and trips planned all over the world, Simon and his team were happy to put the process into our hands and keep their minds on their customers and their business – exactly where they should be.

So with our guidance and support, the right evidence was gathered, the commercial progress was analysed, the benefits to employees, customers, partners, and the environment was assessed, and all the rigorous and comprehensive criteria was met.

Step by step, every box was ticked and every word mattered – and the outstanding work SwimTrek is doing in the adventure holidays industry shone like a beacon from the (many) award entry pages.

When Simon found out they had won, his words said it all: “Winning a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation means so much to me, and to the whole team at SwimTrek. It is recognition of the ongoing effort we have made to ensure we operate at the highest possible standards, and it gives us great pride to represent the UK Tourism Industry as a unique, innovative and exceptional provider of adventure swimming holidays. We can’t wait to share the news with our customers and partners across the world, and to use this as a platform to deliver even more exciting swimming adventures in the future.”  

SwimTrek Queen's awards for Enterprise, Donna O'Toole, August Recognition

And of our help and support in putting the entry together, Simon has kindly put it in his own words: “Donna helped us to understand all the different elements of the Queen’s Award application process, including what the judges were looking for and how we could line up our business processes with the criteria. The application itself looked hugely complex and time-consuming, which is an added stress when you are busy running a business. Donna took that stress away and helped us to see how what we considered business as usual was in fact incredibly important to our application.”

Could you be a future Queen’s Award winner?

Queen's Awards for Enterprise Donna O'Toole

Your company can be from as small as just two people right up to a global brand. This year there are 176 awards: 102 for international trade, 57 for innovation, 11 for sustainable development and six for promoting opportunity through social mobility.

The competition is now open and is as exciting and rigorous as ever. Winners will attend a celebration at Buckingham Palace and will be visited by the Lord Lieutenant of the county to present their award. Winners can also use the Queen’s Award emblem on all marketing materials for 5 years – priceless PR that has been proven to grow business results.

Contact me for a totally free and honest assessment of your chances of winning or sign up for my exclusive How to Win Business Awards masterclass at The Shard on 22nd June where I will be giving unique insights into the Queen’s Awards process and helping you to win valuable industry awards.

And if you fancy a unique adventure holiday like no other – you really can’t beat SwimTrek.

 

 

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