in-Cumbria’s Businessperson of the Year 2020 led a company through one of the most turbulent times in economic history, while changing its business model in just 10 days.

Jacqui Gale is our deserved winner of this year’s Businessperson of the Year prize.

The marquee award, sponsored by TSP Engineering, Workington, goes to a businessperson who has made an outstanding contribution to their company in the last year.

While all of the three finalists were more than worthy, Jacqui stood out to the judges for how in her role as managing director of Wax Lyrical in Lindal-in-Furness she worked with both the NHS and the public sector as well as several companies in the private sector such as Edinburgh Gin Distillery to help the national effort in combatting Coronavirus.

During the pandemic Jacqui not only led the company through the challenging time, but was at the forefront of driving a significant transformation within the business. In March, Wax Lyrical put a hold on home fragrance manufacturing and developed an alcohol sanitiser formula which holds the EN1276 & EN14476 testing standard, proven to kill 99.99 per cent of bacteria and viruses.

The business manufactured sanitiser products for local health services initially, and later for businesses and the public to buy, notably at B&Q. This transformation was made within just 10 days.

While Jacqui would never take credit for this transformation, and would always attribute this success to the hard work of the full team, there is no doubt that she instilled the drive, determination and ambition to implement this significant business development at such pace, at a time when at a time when the output was so greatly needed.

Now, the Cumbrian business, which employees 134 staff, is exporting to 46 countries worldwide and in 2021 is expanding is product portfolio to enter a new sector of personal care.

The 57-year-old has epitomised what the award stands for as it recognises leadership and drive to overcome challenges and significantly transform a business. Never were those qualities needed or demonstrated more than in 2020 with Jacqui being a significant example.

Jacqui said: “The awards evening was great, I was really impressed with how well it was put together virtually but am still in shock at having won the award.

“I feel shocked because while every successful business needs leaders, I cannot emphasis enough how much of a team effort it has been in making this year and the work we have done a success.

“What has happened to us this year has given us a real sense of purpose, it was like we had a special calling ever since I took the call from the NHS asking us if we could use our equipment to diffuse alcohol for hand sanitisers.

“Those 10 days were a scary but exciting experience and it is where I had to use all my skills and experience to help get us through.

“Most of us barely had a full night of sleep and we had to come up with a number of interesting solutions such as making our own PPE screens to each member of staff having a bamboo stick to mark out two metres. What it did give us is a real sense of camaraderie and for me I was very concerned of the risk we were taking, not just as a company but if anyone for any unfortunate reason became ill. We took all necessary precautions, but you can never be sure.”

Hailing from Edinburgh, Jacqui joined Wax Lyrical in 2018 and has 30 years of experience working with other internationally renowned brands including Crabtree & Evelyn, Estee Lauder, Revlon, Pretty Polly, Sara Lee, Lulu Guinness, Russell Corporation and Falk&Ross. Her experience includes leading operations through fast-paced growth, ensuring efficient use of resources, establishing processes and procedures, developing and maintaining key customer and supply chain relationships, and a steadfast passion to succeed.

The mother of two also had to balance working through the pandemic with submitting her thesis for an MBA in Leading Innovation and Change through the Robert Kennedy College, Zurich, Switzerland.

The award was judged by John Coughlan, Chief Executive of TSP Engineering and a previous winner of the award, with assistance by Josh Holmes of Newsquest Cumbria.

Jacqui was commended by the judges for turning over production at the candle and home fragrance firm to make hand sanitisers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The judges said: “Jacqui took a calculated risk and changed its entire production to make hand sanitiser and save the business.

“She also ensured the business had materials in stock to support its Christmas market putting Wax Lyrical in pole position over many of its competitors while protecting revenues and brand shelf presence, along with its 153 employees.”

The runners-up for the award were Ceara Hayden of St Bees School, near Whitehaven, and Theresa Harvison of Bowness Bay Suites.