Tree Fellas with Sarah
The Tree Fellas, from left, Gareth Pennington, Lewis Cook and Scott McCoid. Inset, Sarah Fenwick with Student of the Year award from the International Association of Bookkeepers (IAB).

Hull care leaver wins international business award

A woman who built a successful Hull company with her partner after meeting in a care home has scooped an international business award.

Sarah Fenwick set up Tree Fellas, a Hull tree surgery firm, with Gareth Pennington in 2019.

Now she has been named Student of the Year by the International Association of Bookkeepers (IAB).

But as they celebrate, Sarah and Gareth are also changing the way their business works to combat the impact of coronavirus, with orders slumping after a bumper start to the year.

Sarah’s trophy was posted by the IAB and presented in an awards ceremony over video conferencing platform Zoom after the cancellation of a prestigious celebration at the House of Lords terrace.

She said: “We were gutted to miss out on our first trip to London, but I was overwhelmed when I heard I had won.

“It was a beautiful piece of news given the difficult time that we are in at the moment and it definitely lifted my spirits. It’s topped everything for me and the company. We’re all absolutely buzzing about it.

“The IAB have invited all of this year’s winners to attend next year’s ceremony instead so we’re looking forward to that and drawing up a list of the attractions we want to see.”

The challenge facing Sarah and Gareth is to keep the company growing. Business flourished to start the year due to storm damage across the city, but it has now slowed down due to the impact of coronavirus.

Sarah said: “We are grateful for all the work we get even at the best of times and even more so in current circumstances. For many people, it was a very difficult start to the year with all the storms and while we wouldn’t wish that on anybody, it’s the money from the clean-up and recovery work which is keeping us afloat.

“We’ve checked the official advice and we can work if we put social distancing in place. Clients send us images of jobs and we use them as the basis for a quote. All the workers go out in separate vans and cars and are allocated one piece of equipment each which they wipe down at the end of each day. They keep their distance all day.

“We’re trying to go out and do as much as we can to cover our fixed overheads because as a young business we really don’t want to close down even temporarily.”

The Guildhall in Hull.