Young Business Person of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year entrant – Matthew Bridger
When he was just 16 years old Matthew Bridger set up Magnate Generation, a project to encourage young people who were not in education to set up their own business, start an apprenticeship or rejoin full-time education.
The scheme was funded by Matthew’s local police and crime commissioner in Kent, had a high success rate and was later turned into the registered charity called Unleashing Lives with a vision of empowering disadvantaged individuals and unlocking their potential.
It’s just one of a string of initiatives spearheaded by Matthew who, in 2019 at the age of 18, became one of the youngest parish councillors in the UK. Many of Matthew’s projects link to social mobility and education.
These include The Little House Project which still runs today and was founded by Matthew to ensure homeless people had a present to open on Christmas Day.
He founded a homeless evening support team, has organised Erasmus Youth Exchanges and coordinated pandemic volunteers and food parcels in his local area.
Now working as the senior communications advisor and constituency office manager for Stoke-on-Trent MP Jo Gideon, Matthew has turned his attention to Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.
He is a patron of Better Together Community Support Group, trustee of Sutton Trust Community Group in Abbey Hulton, outreach and communications officer for the Harper-Lee Foundation and has been a school governor.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently honoured Matthew as the 2241st Point of Light recipient in the UK.
Now Matthew has been nominated in the Entrepreneur of the Year and Young Business Person of the Year categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.
In her nomination for Matthew Emily Davies said: “I’m nominating Matthew as he is an absolutely remarkable individual and believe that he needs to be recognised for his commitment to public service and how over the last 10 years he has made an enormous contribution to the local community across the whole of the United Kingdom.
“Matthew’s achievements at such a young age are an inspiration to many. He has shown that age is not a barrier to making a difference and that anyone can contribute to their community if they have the passion and dedication to do so.
“His commitment to public service and his ability to connect with people on a personal level make him a role model for young people looking to make a difference in their communities.”
Matthew said: “I am truly delighted and honoured to have been nominated for an award, especially as a young entrepreneur. This recognition is not just a personal achievement but a celebration of the collaborative efforts of remarkable individuals who have played a vital role in my business endeavours and charitable initiatives.
“Running businesses goes beyond financial success; it’s about creating positive change in the community. I remain steadfast in the ongoing journey of giving back and addressing the critical issues that shape our world.
“This nomination is more than just an acknowledgement of my efforts; it’s a testament to the power of collaboration and the impact we can make when we unite with a shared purpose.
“While I may not know the outcome yet, being nominated is a humbling experience. I firmly believe that everyone has a voice and the power to change the world – it’s our sole responsibility to use it, and that is what I will continue to do. This nomination serves as a reminder that our actions, both in business and philanthropy, can leave a lasting impact on the lives of others.”