MORE than 1,000 nominations for the 2014 NatWest Venus Awards Dorset have been whittled down to a shortlist of semi-finalists.

The public are now being asked to vote in the awards, which recognise the achievements of women in business.

There are 14 categories in the awards, with the public asked to act as judges in three: the Daily Echo Business Mother of the Year; Heart Employee of the Year; and Stewarts Garden Centre Customer Service of the Year.

Voting is already open and the top three in each category will be invited by their sponsor to the award ceremony at Poole’s Lighthouse on Wednesday, June 14.

Tara Howard, who founded the Venus Awards in Dorset in 2009 and has since launched them in other parts of the country, said: “Over the years, the awards have given recognition as well as increased confidence to dozens of hard-working women.

“The awards are focused on women being rewarded for their achievements in their own business or someone else’s.”

The nominations for Daily Echo Business Mother of the Year are: Sarah Milligan, of Innovate Ltd; Kelly Elsworthy, author of The Adventures of the Cuddle Pirate; Dawn Howling, of Oh Miss Kitsch; Penny Unwin, of Minky Moos Children’s Entertainment; Pippa Latimer Harris, of Latimer House; Heather Stevens, of Aspire Architects LLP; Catherine Swatridge, of Catherine Swatridge Hypnotherapy; Sophie Kermani Jibet, of The Dining Room; Kirsty Cooper, of South Coast Paraplanning; and Anna-lee Kewley, of Baby Moo’s.

Nominations for the Stewarts Garden Centre Customer Service of the Year awards are: Zelda De Hollander, of Studio Shotz Photography; Rebecca Ricketts, of Florence and Teddy; Lesley Keets, of Active Research Ltd; Sophie Kermani Jibet, of The Dining Room; Carly Painter, of Sunrise Nanny Agency; Rosie Wallace, of Days Hotel Bournemouth; Joanna Boughton-White, of Dorwest Herbs Ltd; Sara Farrow, of The Nail Lounge; Lauren Curry, of Concept Flowers; Susie Lyons, of Susie Lyons Interiors; and Michelle Meredith, of Archway Financial Solutions.

The nominations for Heart Employee of the Year are: Silva Bala, of Riviera Hotel and Holiday Apartments; Jesse Banovic, of THAT Group; Kim Clayton, of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Gill Hepburn, of Station Financial Services Ltd; Samantha Rance, of Custom House; Beverley McPheat, of HSBC; Hannah Parsons, of NHS Poole; and Lesley Telford, of The Grove, Bournemouth.

To vote, visit