This is my final blog of 2017 and I wanted to pay tribute to some of the amazing people and companies I’ve been lucky enough to meet who have really impressed me.

Before I do I’d like to say the defining moment of 2017 for me, and so many other people, was the horrendous attack at Manchester Arena on May 22.

The response from the city, country and world was amazing and my thoughts remain with the victims; their families and friends and anybody caught up in the tragedy. It was humbling to watch Ariana Grande’s performance at the benefit concert that followed the attack and it made me immensely proud of Manchester.

Below are some of the business people who have impressed me in 2017. They’re in no particular order.

Rachel Dunscombe CEO, NHS Digital Academy and Director of Digital, at Salford Royal Group:  The NHS is in good hands if Rachel Dunscombe is involved. I interviewed her at Andy Burnham’s first digital summit and her passion for improving the care to patients was tangible.

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Sandy Lindsay, Chair, Tangerine Group: Sandy Lindsay is the face of communications agency Tangerine and decided to set up an Employee Ownership Trust this year for her staff. She’s passionate about apprentices and skills (and her beloved Manchester United). 

Robyn Dooley, founder, OH: Robyn Dooley spoke at a skills breakfast in Liverpool and was massively impressive. She recognised the growing gap between education and industry in the digital sector and is doing something about it. 
 
Anastasia Kenyon , CEO, Lifestyler: The Manchester-based entrepreneur launched Palette at just 24 and is now the CEO of Lifestyler, a 'LinkedIn' for makeup artists. She spoke brilliantly at a funding in tech event I hosted.

Michelle Rothwell, founder, Watch This Space: Is there anything Michelle Rothwell can’t do? She founded property company Watch This Space less than two years ago and has been involved in a range of exciting schemes.  Her enthusiasm is infectious.

Elizabeth Clark, founder Dream Agility: Elizabeth Clark is the CEO and co-founder of multi-award winning Dream Agility. She is an international conference speaker and bestselling author. Her business is flying and she’s massively respected.

Liz Ashall-Payne, founder, ORCHA: Health and fitness review platform ORCHA took home the title of winner at BusinessCloud's 'Meet the game-changing pioneers of tech' event in 2017. Liz Ashall-Payne founded ORCHA in 2015 to raise the quality of apps in the tech sector.

William Fletcher, managing director, Recycling Lives: William Fletcher is managing director of Preston-based Recycling Lives - a social business supporting life-changing charity programmes. He spoke at an event I hosted at Burnley College and was really engaging.

Dr Sam Chapman, Chief Innovation Officer, The Floow: I met Sam Chapman at GP Bullhound’s Northern Tech Awards in Newcastle and The Floow’s technology is saving lives by reducing road accidents.

Gary Gallen, founder of Hull-based law firm rradar: I visited Hull-based rradar earlier this week and it didn’t feel like a legal firm. Gary  Gallen is a disrupter in every sense of the work. I was massively impressed by him.

Andy Kent, chief executive, Angel Solutions: There are some people in life you just like and Andy Kent is one of them. From his circus-themed Liverpool offices to his support of  Robyn Dooley, of OH, Andy is committed to doing the right thing and having a bit of fun in the process.

Daniel Burton, chief executive officer, Wondrwall: Wondrwall has pioneered the first intelligent living system that will transform how people interact with their homes and Daniel Burton is the man behind it.

James Blake, chief executive,  Hello Soda:  James  Blake is one of the founders of Manchester-headquartered Hello Soda, which allows clients to gain valuable insights into potential customers from unstructured data including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google. His passion for Hello Soda is matched only by his love of Everton FC!