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Cystic Fibrosis Trust

Helen Barrett Bright Ideas Awards

The Bright Ideas Awards have been established in memory of Helen Barrett, a successful entrepreneur who, together with her partner, set up a gym that is still thriving today.

Whatever you need to kick-start your dream career, if you’re over 16 you can apply for a grant from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust to help you on your way. Maybe you have a creative hobby and need the resources to turn it into a thriving business. Perhaps you’ve already started your business and need some funding and support to help you expand and reach your audiences. Whatever it is, a Helen Barrett Bright Ideas Award can help you on your way.

Applications are now closed.

Thank you to all those who have submitted an application for this year's Helen Barrett Bright Ideas Awards. Applications are now closed and with our panel and a decision will be made in November.

Check out last year's winners below!

Who was Helen Barrett?

Helen Barrett dreamed of setting up her own business, and she didn’t let her cystic fibrosis hold her back. Sadly, having fought a hard battle, Helen died a week before her 32nd birthday - but her gym is still thriving today, and through these awards set up in her memory we hope to inspire others to make the leap too. Working for yourself can offer great benefits – you plan your own hours, earn your own money, and do what you love. We want young people with cystic fibrosis to use the grants and mentoring to follow in Helen’s footsteps and live the life they want to. With funding and support from the 65 Roses Trust, we are delighted to be able to offer these awards to help entrepreneurs with CF set-up thriving businesses.

Is self-employment right for me? 

Choosing to start your own business or become self-employed is a big step. For some, the freedom of flexible hours that can fit around treatments and fluctuating health means that work and CF can fit together more easily. For those who are in secure employment there are things to consider, such as sick pay and holidays. It's a personal decision, and if you have any concerns about how pursuing your business dream may impact your health, you can talk to your CF team. 

If you are in receipt of benefits and have any concerns about how earning through self-employment could impact your benefits, our Helpline team can put you in touch with our specialist Welfare & Rights Advisor for advice.

Last year's winners


I design chalkboards, string art and carved pieces of art to commemorate milestones or mark any celebration with something that can be kept and displayed in the recipient's home. My artwork is very colourful and often has a deep sentimental connection to the person buying or being bought for, but also design for fun too. To date I have made over 200 pieces, with lots of repeat customers, and have another 100 or so orders in my books, including some right up tor's very busy.

I intend on spending the money insulating my garage, where I do the majority of the work on the pieces. I start with the raw material, i.e. for the chalkboards I start with MDF (usually cut to size by a well known DIY store), for the string art / carved pieces I buy or acquire pallets and chop them manually into usable sized pieces.

In the winter time, especially, the garage is freezing cold, and I really can’t spend more than an hour or so out there. If I were to insulate and heat the garage then I’d be able to use the space year round (and save taking all my work pieces into the house and taking over in there too).

I also want to spend some money on new tools: a table saw and band saw to name a couple things I’d really like. These would help me increase productivity. 


My Bright Idea centres around my voice. Ever since I was a young teenager I have been singing with great passion. A few years ago I had the amazing opportunity of singing solo on a West End stage, I did this twice a day for two weeks and loved every minute of it and came to the realisation that singing full time did wonders for my health. I am now in the process of setting up a wedding and events singing business.

Winning this award has catapulted me to a place where I almost feel ready to undertake my first paid performance which I feel wouldn't have happened quite as soon without this generous award. I have bought a professional PA system which I will use at my gigs and I have been using it for rehearsals which helps me big time. Singing is a major workout for my lungs and one rehearsal is the equivalent of at least two physio sessions. My lungs and fitness levels are reaping the rewards and will continue to do so the more time I spend singing.

My plans for next year are predominantly to book up as much of the year as possible with gigs. I am currently working on my personal brand and website and will look at numerous streams of advertising, along with some major networking.


My Bright Idea is to start creating homemade frames, with scrabble letters, pictures and wooden letters including a photo that the buyer wants in it. I can do these for any celebration.

Receiving the award has helped me but the materials I need to set up my business properly and being able to earn money while still doing treatments has taken a lot of stress off me to find a job I would struggle to do and make my health worse.

My plans for the next year are to set up an eBay selling page so I can sell internationally.


My business vision is to create prints can sell!

I’m currently creating prints at home with basic materials –this is fine to experiment, however in order to sell prints they need to be of a much higher printing quality and volume which is achieved with the use of a printing press. And this is my ultimate vision: I dream of creating professional standard prints, to sell online, at art fairs, and for charity; I dream of being a full-time printmaker!

My Helen Barrett Bright Ideas Award will go to the creation of a ‘home studio’ – including a table-top printing press, materials, a new business-enabled website and worktop – and would enable me to create the sturdy foundations of my business. I would use the money I raise from selling my prints to continue to buy more materials, expand the website if necessary, promote my work, secure places at print fairs, and even attend more classes to expand my range of techniques; the initial grant will act as a springboard off which my business can grow and expand. Any income from my business would of course also help my living expenses – having no viable option of steady employment for the foreseeable due to my health, I would ideally like to be as self-sufficient as possible, and do this through something I love.


My Bright Idea is to create wedding invites which are professionally printed and finished to a high quality. The award has allowed me to buy a laptop that doesn't crash every five seconds! And to purchase material I needed for better selling points and photos of my work. Working for myself in that respect also means I don't force myself to work more than I can.

I hope to get more of a following and expand sales and my products (I’m looking into other wedding stationery needs) and expand into more social media as I've stuck with Facebook while I got it off the ground and started to advertise my availability.


My Bright Idea is to develop a video game titled There’s Always a Village. I’ve always loved reading, writing, and playing video games, and these were the things that often helped pass my time in hospital as a child. Now a graduate working as a freelance writer, I have been spending my spare time working on developing a fantasy RPG (role-playing game) that has the player meeting and befriending fascinating characters, exploring parallel worlds, and questing to become the most famous hero in the lands. It is my hope that this game will be the comforting companion and escape from reality to a new generation of children that the likes of Harry Potter and Pokémon were to me.

My health was a huge concern to me after graduating university. Looking for a job that allowed me the flexibility to deal with the symptoms of CF has been difficult, and even though freelance writing has been a great solution for me, finding work is difficult. As such, I rarely end up making more than I need to live on, and so saving up to buy a new laptop capable of supporting my dream seemed impossible. Thanks to the Helen Barrett Bright Ideas Award, I’ve been given the support I need to make my dream a reality.

I’m planning to finish a working demonstration of There’s Always a Village in the coming year! From there, I plan to start marketing the game and gauging the interest of the gaming community, taking feedback and advice to help me build the full game to the standard that I hope to achieve. There are plenty of game publishers based in London that work with indie game developers, and I hope that with their support I will be able to develop There’s Always a Village to completion.


My Bright Idea was to build up my bridal makeup business through a new website design and more advertising. I also aimed to expand on services for my brides and train in HD brows. 

This award has helped me so much! I have been able to rebrand and have a fresh new look for my website and brand, which has helped build my clientele. Thanks to training in HD brows, I have created a more steady income that is still flexible around my health.

My plans for next year are to increase my number of weddings and rent a chair in a busy salon so I can continue to grow my business. I couldn't have managed financially to continue my business without the Helen Barrett Bright Ideas Award, and I can't thank the Trust enough!


In October 2018 I took the plunge and started a nail salon in my converted garage at my house. As I started to increase my client base I decided I wanted to increase what I could offer.  Having taken a loan to start up, I didn't want to add to this so thought I would have to wait a lot longer before I could expand my repertoire. Then I saw the grant application advertised on Facebook. I applied for help to buy equipment and products to allow me to offer pedicures in the salon.

I also wanted some money to allow me to do some updated training, the industry is ever changing and I want to keep up with current trends and products so I can offer my clients the best treatments. Receiving the award has allowed me to achieve both of these, I am now offering the extra treatments and have completed training.

Having the help in my home business has made a huge impact on my health. Working for myself I can be much more flexible around my treatments, therefore my adherence is much better. I even had home IVs earlier this year and managed to keep working a few hours a day around them! I have increased my exercise and find I am eating better and therefore my blood sugars are more stable which impacts the rest of my health too.

I have a small amount left over which I am now going to put towards advertising of my new treatments in the local area. I can't thank the Trust enough for choosing me, my clients are all loving the new introductions!

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Cystic fibrosis, or CF, affects the lungs, digestive system and other organs, and there are over 10,600 people living with it in the UK.

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