Bedfordians chosen among Nat West Bank’s IWD 100 inspiring women

Sam Laycock, manager of the Harpur Centre in Bedford

In celebration of International Women’s Day yesterday, Nat West Bank have revealed their  top 100 women in the region, featuring some prominent female business owners from Bedford.

Samantha Laycock, manager of the Harpur Centre and volunteer chair of the Board of Bedford BID is flying the flag for Bedford among the the 100 women from the South East Midlands and Oxford.

Also featured are business mentor, Liz Toogood, events organiser, Sharon de Leonardis and veteran PR, Jacquie Manners, all sharing how they #ChooseToChallenge.

Each year, the NatWest team in Milton Keynes have celebrated International Women’s day by bringing together a community of women to meet, network and share their experiences.

This year, the team felt it was only right to capture the resilience shown by women right across the region whose stories will resonate in every household, every business and every community as part of the theme Choose to Challenge.

An e-meeting and e-book celebrated the work undertaken by CEOs, entrepreneurs, and executives during the past 12 months and set the platform for a way forward for women in 2021. You can read more about each of the 100 inspiring women and how the Choose To Challenge here.

The sudden impact of Covid-19 (coronavirus) meant continuous changes were required at The Harpur Centre to support businesses and keep the community safe.

Samantha ensured that the team’s and customers’ safety was paramount and has worked tirelessly throughout the past year to support businesses, stakeholders and the wider community.

Samantha Chose to Challenge by also continuing to volunteer as Love Bedford’s Chair to help support 550 businesses through their sectors’ unprecedented changes.

“As the Centre Manager at The Harpur Centre I have been very lucky to meet so many wonderful people across Bedford, which inspired me to volunteer as Chair of Bedford BID,” said Samantha.

“My goal has always been to ensure that our local businesses are supported as much as humanly possible.

“This past year, we have met unprecedented challenges, but it has remained vital to ensure that Bedford continues to be a vibrant town that supports both national and independent businesses.”

Samantha was born and bred in Bedford and her love for her hometown is at the heart of everything she does. She has a passion to ensure the town and its businesses thrive.

“It has been a difficult year to say the least, however, the way in which we have all come together is astonishing,” she said.

“I am so proud to have been included in Nat West, Milton Keynes, 100 Inspiring women and am hugely grateful for the recognition.

“However, it is the people and businesses of Bedford that I am most proud of and I look forward to more of our businesses opening their doors in a safe manner again soon.”


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