ALTRINCHAM business woman Rachel Ray picked up a coveted award at the first Northern Power Women (NPW) awards.

More than 400 people attending the event at Manchester Hilton Hotel saw Rachel crowned the ‘Outstanding Entrepreneur’. She started Bright and Beautiful, a professional housekeeping franchise business in Altrincham, in 2007, and now has more than 50 franchises nationwide, employs 460 people and has a £5 million turnover.

Rachel said: “I can’t believe that I have won. It is such an honour.

"Bright and Beautiful’s vision is to support and empower women; clients who need their homes managed; franchise owners who have a business that can earn a great income with flexible hours; the teams who have fair employment rights with a great working environment; and impoverished families that the company sponsor overseas.”

Simone Roche, founder of Northern Power Women, said: “I am really proud that the Northern Power Women campaign is driving gender diversity and shifting the culture of business by recognising, showcasing and celebrating role models.

“The next steps from the buzz around the awards will be to mobilise the amazing role models across the North to help make fair access and equality a reality for all. NPW Awards is not just a glitzy ceremony; this is a campaign for culture change that begins now.”

NPW awards, hosted by BBC Newsround presenter Leah Boleto on March 3, were open to men and women and launched to recognise, showcase and celebrate the exceptional role models, who are supporting gender equality across the Northern Powerhouse region.