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Virtual Assistant wins UK award

March 1st, 2018  

Virtual Assistant wins UK Award


by Luke Dicicco (Cumberland News/ News & Star)

Gwen Backhouse, 40, has all the skills of a boss’s traditional right-hand woman, but she works ‘virtually’ for businesses from her office in Brampton Town Centre.

Gwen receiving her Outstanding VA UK 2018 award from John Palmer


Mother of two, Gwen is celebrating after beating off stiff competition to win the accolade of UK Outstanding VA 2018 at the Office Show and UK Virtual Assistant Conference at Kensington Olympia in London.

She said “virtual assistants do all the work of a personal assistant or secretary, but they work from their own premesis.”

Gwen founded Curlew Secretarial Solutions just over four years ago from her home, offering PA and administrative services to companies around the UK.  The business grew until Gwen, who is married to Adrian and has two daughters Bethany and Chloe, took on office premesis in Brampton town centre where she now works with a team of associates.

She said “I am overwhelmed and so pleased to have won UK Outstanding VA UK 2018.  I absolutely love my work and can’t wait to see where this takes me.  I am so grateful to my husband and girls for supporting me every step of the way, enabling me to grow my business and get to where I am today.”

Gwen is the first virtual assistant in 11 years of awards to go from winning Best Newcomer to the Outstanding VA UK accolade within three years.

She took the Best Newcomer award in 2015, following it up with VA of the Year England and VA of the Year North West in 2016.

Article in Cumbria Crack

November 10th, 2015  

Local Business Woman named as ‘Finalist’ in National Business Awards

Cumbrian business woman Gwen Backhouse, Director of Curlew Secretarial Solutions, is celebrating after being selected as Best Newcomer Virtual Assistant 2015 finalist in the National Virtual Assistant Awards.

Launched in 2010 the National Virtual Assistant Industry Awards sponsored by Be My VA, recognise the extensive range of skills and pool of talent that exists in the VA Industry around the UK

Gwen Backhouse – Photograph taken by Andrew Collier

and ROI.

Gwen, who lives in Garrigill, Cumbria, launched Curlew Secretarial Solutions in February 2014 and offers administrative and secretarial help to businesses both in the UK and around Europe.  Gwen’s experience and determination has paid off, and she has seen the business grow rapidly in the last year with clients from Cumbria, Yorkshire, London and as far afield as The Netherlands and the USA.  Offering services such as email management, transcription, data input, CRM management and event coordination, to name but a few, she is looking to expand the business in the next year.

Gwen was judged on achieving excellence in her field and on her entrepreneurialism, management skills, promotional skills and Continuous Professional Development.  The winner will be announced on Friday 20th November 2015 in Windsor at the National Virtual Assistant Conference.

Commenting on her success, Gwen said, “I was over the moon to discover that I had been selected as a finalist.  I am truly passionate about my work, and my clients can see that.  I am one of only three or four Virtual Assistants in Cumbria whereas there are hundreds around the UK.  I feel honoured to be representing Cumbria in this way.”

Best VA Newcomer – Shortlisted!

September 16th, 2015  

Best Newcomer VA - Shortlisted

We are over the moon to find out that we have been shortlisted for the National VA Awards in the category of Best Newcomer VA 2015.  It has been an incredible few years and Curlew Secretarial Solutions has been growing from strength to strength.  A big thank you to Be My VA for this shortlisting.  We are looking forward to attending the awards at Office 2015 this year.  Good luck to all who have been shortlisted.

Cumberland News Profile

October 2nd, 2014  

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to answer some questions for the Cumberland News so they could do a profile on a Virtual Assistant, here is the resulting article.  Printed last Saturday.

Photograph of article in Cumberland News

Are people moving away from the large, corporate image?

September 24th, 2014  

Times are changing in the business world. Consumers are looking for a less corporate image and a more customer friendly approach. This change is leaving corporate giants such as Tesco out in the cold. This is an interesting read!

Tesco turns stale as competitors freshen up ideas

23 September 2014 Last updated at 08:15

Tesco signThe troubles just keep on mounting for Tesco.

Stagnant sales, falling profits, boardroom turmoil and now a £250 million hole in its profits forecast.

No wonder shoppers and investors alike are questioning what was, until recently, the undisputed king of UK retailing, revered as much for its gargantuan sales as its continual innovation.

So where did it all go wrong?


Sexism in Small Business does still exist.

September 22nd, 2014  

A fascinating article on sexism in small business.  Do have a read and let us know what you think.

Standing up to Small Business Sexism

by on February 7, 2014

Sexism - are women only earning their 'Pin Money'?

Pin Money

Small business sexism is alive and well. It’s rife on reality TV shows and underpins a lot of policy making. But it is rarely quite as glaring as the message that appeared, this week, on the homepage of a leading small business directory website:

“This is a serious website for serious men with serious businesses. If you are just a little housewife running a little business from home earning some pin money whilst your man is out earning a living – please don’t register your latest hobby business here.”