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  • Writer's pictureSue Williamson

Social Entrepreneur of the Year (Runner Up)

Updated: Mar 9

By Holly Parker

As you may have heard, Sue Williamson, CEO and Founder of Tang Hall SMART CIC was runner up for the title of Social Entrepreneur of the year award,  hosted by Ali Ward of Social Enterprise Yorkshire and Humber (SEYH) on 7th March at The Hospitium. The room was filled with people with shared values, visions and ethos. It was eye opening to see just how many impactful social enterprises there are in Yorkshire. These are people, projects and businesses which help others and make profit, not for personal interest and wealth, but for the purpose of positive social outcomes.  

The competition was extremely strong and the Social Entrepreneur award went to the excellent Cat Hyde from Seagulls. Seagulls Paint is a Leeds based social enterprise which specialises in paint reuse, community arts and supporting people who are in need. They save paint from being thrown away and have a strong focus on the environment. Their motto is “paint with purpose”, which sums up perfectly the ethos of the organisation. 

However everyone at Tang Hall SMART is very proud of Sue for her nomination and there is an overwhelming consensus that her nomination was very well deserved, with stakeholders, colleagues and members of Tang Hall SMART commenting: 

“What you have done at Tang Hall Smart is so unique and special, I will never forget how much I was made to feel at home by you and others there.”

“How one person can change and impact upon so many lives is truly an inspiration to us all. You don't seek personal recognition and never stop your fight to make the world a better place. Those who save one life, save the world entirely.”

“Inspirational, visionary, great leader”

The staff at Tang Hall SMART, who know Sue well, realise that she does not do all that she does for personal gain, but for those in the community and those who face disadvantages including some of the most hard to reach. Sue does not give up on a person and works tirelessly to improve lives, not only of those involved with Tang Hall SMART CIC, but within wider society for her work in the homelessness sector. Her leadership style is empathetic, thoughtful and considerate of her employees at every turn. Tang Hall SMART has a high staff retention rate, which, in my opinion, Sue is hugely responsible for. Sue focuses on the talents and qualities of a person, believing that everyone has the right to meaningful connection, activities and work - something which is evidenced from both of her ventures, Tang Hall SMART and Tang Hall Employment

Sue herself has said “It is important to look beyond your own immediate existence as a company when you are a social enterprise, as collaborative models and solutions that benefit wider society are as important as immediate gains”.


Professor Kiran Trehan, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Partnerships and Engagement at the University of York (and one of Tang Hall SMART’s Board of Directors), opened the ceremony with a powerful speech which resonated with all of the audience members. The work Kiran has done, and is continuing to do, for the third sector is invaluable. 

The Ceremony was hosted at the Hospitium in the Museum Gardens, which is a beautiful award winning 14th century building. Each attendee was given a goodie bag - huge thanks to the contributors for these. ESP projects were one of the contributors and sponsors of the event, providing rubber ducks, which were the cause of much hilarity with a competition to take the best picture of the duck. See the hashtag on X/Twitter #SEYHAwards for some ducks having fun!

Bradshaws of York catered the event, providing delicious food for everyone. For the main I chose the tagine, which was flavourful and paired well with the falafel and aubergine. The creme brulee for dessert was packed full of vanilla, it was rich, creamy and my only complaint was that I wish there was more of it! 

The staff who attended on behalf of Tang Hall SMART were all honoured to be there and celebrate the achievements of the nominees and winners. Congratulations to all and we look forward to seeing your social enterprises grow and continue to thrive. 

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