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 18 you can apply for a grant from 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.

Award winners can receive a grant of up to £5000 to boost their business idea, as well as access to expert support and guidance.

Helen Barrett Bright Ideas Awards 2023

Applications for the 2023 Helen Barrett Bright Ideas Awards are now open. To apply for the Awards, you will need to complete the application form below and submit a 2 minute video pitch and any other information you’d like our panel to look at. If you’re not able to provide a video pitch, you can send in a written pitch instead – remember, the pitch is your opportunity to bring your idea to life for the judges.

Your pitch and any supporting information must be emailed to HelenBarrettAward@cysticfibrosis.org.uk by the closing date of 29 September 2023 at 5pm.  Any applications or supporting information received after this date will not be taken forward to our judging panel.

Helen Barrett Bright Ideas Awards

Date of birth
You must be 18 + to enter
About you
These awards are open to people with CF aged 18+ who live and have the right to work in the UK. Please confirm below:
We’re interested in your work and education history and how your CF might have affected this. This helps our judges to understand more about why you would benefit from an award. 
Awards are usually between £250 and £2500, but can be up to £5000
Please provide as much information as possible. Your application is more likely to be successful if you can show what you would spend the money on including exact details of any costs.
Please tell us how it would help you to move your business forwards.
This could be consultancy, mentoring, training or something else. This information won’t be used to judge your application but where possible we try to help Award winners with more than just a financial grant so this helps us to look at how we can support you in your business goals.

In completing this form, you consent that the Cystic Fibrosis Trust will store and process the information provided above in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have told us otherwise. Read our privacy policy.

We’d love to keep you updated about our work and how you can help, including petitions or fundraising activities. In order to send you emails about our work or to contact you by text message, we need your permission. Please let us know how you’d like to be contacted and say yes to getting involved in the fight for a life unlimited by cystic fibrosis. You can also call 020 3795 2177 or email supportercare@cysticfibrosis.org.uk

We will not share your details with anyone else, unless otherwise stated and in accordance with our privacy policy.


In applying for an award, you are consenting:

  • that staff and/or volunteers from Cystic Fibrosis Trust may contact you for further information on your application.
  • that Cystic Fibrosis Trust can share your application with our judging panel so that they can make their decisions
  • that, if your application is successful, staff and/or volunteers from Cystic Fibrosis Trust can contact you to follow up on the outcomes of your award


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.

2022 Award Winners     

Thank you to all those who have submitted an application for this year’s Helen Barrett Bright Ideas Awards. We had some amazing applications for the 2022 round of the Awards, and it was really hard for our judges to choose the winners – but here they are! 

Read more about our 2022 winners...

  • Alex’s early years venture

    With funding awarded, Alex has purchased a new laptop for her early years business. She utilises this to arrange a variety of activities for pre-school age children and liaise seamlessly with parents.

  • Anne’s toy manufacturing

    Since being awarded, Anne has been ‘immersed in fabulous fabrics and threads!’. Anne applied and secured funding to help with her toy manufacturing business. The funding covered the costs of buying materials to make toy bears and purchase a laptop.

  • Ava’s tattooing and piercing

    Ava secured funding for her tattoo business, specifically to purchase tattoo and piercing equipment. She also plans to use the money to assist with advertising the business.

  • Carl’s art

    Funding awarded has enabled Carl to purchase a high-spec laptop and advanced software for photo and video editing – helping to transform his art business into a full time venture. He has been able to post high quality content promoting his services online.

  • Denise’s house and pet sitting

    Funding awarded helped Denise with her house and pet sitting business - covering costs such as stationery, a printer and transport.

  • Jimmy’s cards

    Jimmy applied for funding to expand his online business which sells cards. He has been able to advertise his business in both local and international markets since securing the funding.

  • Kimberly’s art shop

    Funding awarded helps Kimberly to purchase specialist equipment and software to expand her offer of items for sale. It also helps with expenses for creating an accessible online shop following the changing markets post COVID-19.

  • Martin’s designs

    Martin applied for funding to further his design business – to purchase a premium WordPress package, for membership to the Society for All Artists (SAA) and stock for sale.

  • Nicole’s tattoo business

    Nicole secured funding to help with the administrative and creative aspects of her tattoo business. She received funding for a laptop and printer.

  • Stuart’s football coaching

    Stuart applied for funding to assist with his football coaching business. With the funding awarded, he has been able to brand and market the business.

Our 2021 winners

  • Laura’s clothing brand

    Each and every one of us are different; different style, different size - but clothing doesn’t reflect this. So that’s how my sister Rachel came up with the idea for Careaux.

    Careaux combines timeless silhouettes with a world-first innovation which is patent pending as the concept has not been done before. Each Careaux piece is offered in any size and made with a hidden zip around the waist -enabling the dress to separate into a top and a skirt. This means that every dress can have a different - or same - size top and bottom and you can mix and match the tops and the skirt to create different style, fabric and colour combinations.

    My hopes and dreams are to grow Careaux and to continue to do what I can to create change in the world and to have a positive impact. I’m excited to be able to create change in the fashion industry, and to be able to create a fully inclusive, diverse and accessible fashion industry and world.

    Read Laura's story

  • Sam's game

    I started to learn how to develop games a few years ago, as a way to exercise my brain. After learning some of the basics I decided I wanted to create a shop-keeping game set in a fantasy world. I’m writing and producing my own music for the game, as well.

    I was over the moon when I found out I was chosen as a winner. I’m going to use the money from the award to buy some more equipment, including a new laptop, which will help speed up the process. It’s really motivational to be noticed for your work!

    Read Sam's story

  • Jonathan's film

    With the help of the wonderful guys over at Now in a Minute Productions, we’ll be producing another short film of mine, The Swan with the Broken Lungs, a story I wrote many years ago that’s loosely based on my own experiences with CF.

    It’s a story I have wanted to tell for quite a while now. So many people still have no idea what CF even is and there are very few films that cover the subject.

    If this film can have any impact whatsoever on helping to spread the awareness of this awful disease, then I’ll be a very happy man.

    Read Jonathan's story

  • Martha's stories

    When I was made redundant during the pandemic, after an initial panic I suddenly had time to fit in all that writing I wanted to do. I have quickly realised that I don't need to publish novels to be a writer. I've had around 60 stories published online and in print now. I've won writing competitions and even judged them.

    The HBBI money is going to help me to professionalise myself. Building a website, signing up to writing organisations, attending events where I get to network and hobnob (mmmm, hobnobs). Some of the money will also be used to enter those high-profile competitions which can be expensive to enter - but you have to be in it to win it, as they say. The rest will be used to market my novella (a tale about grief and sharks, due out in 2023).

    Like all writers, the dream of writing a bestselling novel is never far from my thoughts, but realistically my hope is that I can earn a living from writing. This boost from HBBI and the Trust at this early juncture will be so helpful.

    Read Martha's story

  • Lucy's play

    My plan for the future is to write for TV and theatre. I would love for there to be characters with CF and storylines that are about more than just their illness. CF influences my writing a lot as it’s extremely important to me to represent disability on TV, without taking an overly sanitised approach.

    My aim is to show that people with disabilities can be sexually desirable and are human beings with flaws and their own moral codes. I want to challenge the common stereotype of us all being brave and heroic.

    I was so touched and grateful that the Trust would support me with my goals of becoming a writer. I’m going to use the award to put on a play and have it filmed, which will help me showcase my work and hopefully get an agent.

    Read Lucy's story

  • Sophie's dog grooming business

    I was in between jobs when my dog, Blackjack, was injured by a groomer. So I decided to learn how to do pet grooming myself. And it turned out I was really good at it, and I really loved it.

    When I got the call that I’d been chosen as a winner, I asked them if they were joking! It was amazing. I really didn’t think I’d win. I’ve used the money to build my own salon in my mum’s back garden. My partner is really happy that the Trust has supported me with my goals –even though he’s the one who’s had to build my salon for me! But it’s taken it from being a hobby to being a business.

    To me, a life unlimited means being able to do exactly what I want, when I want. Cystic fibrosis doesn’t stop me doing anything, and it never will. If I want to do something, I’ll do it. However long it takes, I’ll do it. I’m a very determined person!

    Read Sophie's story

  • Becky's baking business

    I’m currently in the process of sourcing a new oven and a food-safe printer so I can print my own logos and images or photos for cakes using food-safe ink. I used the award money to purchase a laptop for creating the images to print. I’m also looking into fondant modelling courses, to improve my ability to make figurines for cakes. 

    In the future, I would really like to be spending much more time on my cakes, cupcakes, and cookies, really making a name for myself, and seeing how I can make Becky Bakes the best it can be. 

    Read Becky's story

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