THE deaf managing director of a fast-growing North-East cleaning company has won an award in recognition of her outstanding leadership.

Alison Stephenson, boss at Bowburn-headquartered AAA Caring Caretaker, was crowned as the region's most influential MD in her sector by business group Acquisition International.

The awards are held annually to honour the outstanding achievements of female business leaders from all industries in the UK.

Alison, who manages a team of over 50 and a portfolio of clients including the NHS, PD Ports, Esh Housing, Hartlepool Marina and the MOD, said: "I am thrilled to have been honoured with such a prestigious award, which was in recognition of the role I've played in our growth since I took to the helm.

"To be singled out in a group of incredibly talented women makes me so proud.

"I am fortunate to work with a fantastic team of people who make my job as Managing Director a real pleasure, so this is a collective award win as much as for me personally."

AAA Caring Caretaker is a family-run business which was founded by entrepreneur Richard H Tucker MBE in 2015, who remains company chief executive officer.

Alison, who is profoundly deaf, took over the management of the business two years ago when Richard stepped back from full time duties and has since taken it through a period of growth which has included a move to new headquarters at Bowburn North Industrial Estate to give the company the space it needs to continue to expand.

AAA Caring Caretakers' recruitment ethos is to give people who have struggled to find work, including ex Armed Forces personnel who may be suffering with conditions including PTSD, the opportunity to move into secure, long-term employment. In fact, 12 of the company's 52 staff have unseen disabilities.

Alison added: "I like to think I am proof that having a disability does not have to hold you back. I have faced many challenges over the years because of my profound deafness but have refused to let it hold me back and look at me now. I am where I want and deserve to be."

At the end of 2022 Alison also won the 'Rising Star' award at the North East Business Women of the Year Awards (WIN Awards).

The award is designed to recognise emerging talent and was open to women who had already made a mark in a business environment.