NO fewer than 11 female entrepreneurs from Bolton and Bury are gunning for glory in the finals of a major awards ceremony.

Charity chiefs Gill Smallwood, who runs the Fortalice refuge, and Maura Jackson, of youth homelessness advocates BACKUP North West, are among the contenders for the Enterpris Vision honours.

More than 1,000 leading lights from across the north submitted entries for the event, known as the EVAs, which is organised in conjunction with Pink Link Ladies Networking.

The awards roster is also swelled by Heidi Adamson, whose environmental outfit The Last Straw, is looking to replace plastic products with metal alternatives, as well as Alison Critchley, who champions hypo-allergenic foods for dogs with Heights Farm Premium Pet Foods.

Leading the charge for Bury is Dawn Fidler, of The Joshua Wilson Brain Tumour Charity, which has raised more than £800,000 for research, inspired by the youngster who became known to many as 'SuperJosh'.

Their reward is an invite to a black-tie gathering at Blackpool's Winter Gardens, on September 27, when the winners of up to 16 categories will be revealed.

Coral Horn, of Pink Link, said: "A record number of nominations were received this year, reinforcing what we have been shouting about for almost a decade – that the North West is a hotbed of highly talented women.

"The combination of resilience, determination, hard work and a touch of magic has made it particularly difficult for the judges to whittle down the applications to the 2019 finalists."

One final award, for outstanding achievement, will be presented by sponsors NatWest to one of the finalists, in recognition for her stellar showing, to round off the night.

Heather Watson, an enterprise manager with the banking giant, said: "We are passionate about supporting female entrepreneurship and recognising the important economic contribution that they make in the North West.

"The EVAS provide an essential platform to showcase their exceptional achievements and help to inspire other women to follow their dreams."