FSB Small Business Awards crowns Sharmini Thomas best sole trader


YORK’S ‘queen of curry’ is vying for a national award after taking the crown for best sole trader in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Sharmini Thomas was one of the top success stories at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Celebrating Small Business Awards.

The York-based Indian cookery coach took the self-employed / sole trader award for her business, Sharmini’s Inspirational Indian Cuisine cookery school, beating strong competition in the category.

York Press:

Lord Mayor of York, Chris Cullwick and his wife, Joy, the lady mayoress, with Sharmini Thomas and her husband Dr Thomas Verghese. Picture: Joe Dodsworth Photography, York.

She will go on to represent York and North Yorkshire alongside the high growth business award winner, Comply Direct from Skipton, and micro business winner,Glawning, from Harrogate, at the UK final in May, hosted by Claire Balding and JJ Chalmers.

Sharmini has been teaching Indian cooking for more than 20 years, through hosting cookery events across Yorkshire, including hands-on cookery courses, demonstrations and corporate team building events.

“It is amazing. I never dreamt of receiving an award like this,” she said. “Let’s hope I can make York proud in the final.”

Sharmini, who offered classes over zoom during the pandemic and launched her own spice kits, has received a string of accolades, including being named best curry school in England by TripAdvisor.

“It is a blessing,” she said, adding that her in-person lessons had quickly booked up until July, prompting her to run extra dates.

The awards recognised businesses from across Yorkshire and The Humber for their achievements over the last 12 months.

York Press:

Carolyn Frank, FSB development manager York & North Yorkshire, with the Lord Mayor of York and Lady mayoress, Chris and Joy Cullwick, with Andrea Morrison, FSB area lead for York.

They were held at The Principal Hotel York, hosted by businesswoman and voiceover professional, Jo Pickard.

The awards highlighted the best in class across a range of categories for small and medium-sized businesses employing fewer than 250 staff.

Winners, from a field of more than 300 entrants, also included a young entrepreneur property developer; an environmentally friendly chemical company; an innovative glamping provider and an expanding childcare business.

Finalists from York and North Yorkshire competed alongside contenders from West Yorkshire, South and East Yorkshire and The Humber.

York Press:

The winners at the FSB awards. 

FSB regional chair, and owner of York-based YES Couriers, Simon Williams, said: “Achieving success against the backdrop of the last two years is hugely impressive.

“Businesses have shown incredible resilience in surviving, pivoting and thriving and we should all say a big thank you for the role you have played in keeping our economy moving and supporting your communities through the services and goods you supply and the jobs you provide.”

Carolyn Frank, FSB’s development manager for York and North Yorkshire, said there was a great atmosphere at their first large in-person event in two years.

“There was such a lot of love for small business in the room, which was heartwarming. It was a wonderful show of strength from our small business community, who are driving the local economy.”


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