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Meet Luke Liddiard; the first ever Journey Award winner!

 Journey Award winner Luke Liddiard with The Lazy Camper founder Jacob Hill and Rocktails founder Naomi Kibble

Journey Award winner Luke Liddiard with The Lazy Camper founder Jacob Hill and Rocktails founder Naomi Kibble

Homeless teenager Luke turned his life around to win the national award after being given the opportunity to start his own company

18 year old Luke Liddiard from Chertsey in Surrey was made homeless after a family breakdown in October 2013.

At the Young Enterprise Company UK Final on July 1st he was crowned winner of the first  National Journey Award having established his own successful carpentry business through the Company programme.

After being forced to leave home by his mum whilst doing his GCSEs, Luke had nowhere to live and was then introduced to his father for the first time as he sought to find a home so he could complete his exams.

Luke says: “I’ve never known whether my father was alive or dead. I didn’t know my dad, but I had to go live with him. I arrived on his doorstep one day and he introduced me to two of my brothers; I didn’t even know they existed and here I was about to move in with them. It was a lot to take in.”

Having lived with his father for two months in Norfolk, Luke returned to Surrey, sofa surfing whilst undertaking  a music production course. With no proper place to stay he was forced to sleep in a shed: “It was a tough night but I had no choice. It was a neighbour’s shed and I knew there was a deck chair in there, it was my only option.”

He found himself having to stay in the YMCA Hostel in Woking – his fourth home in twelve months. It was at this time, in September 2013, he was introduced to the Young Enterprise Company Programme.

Having been informed about Young Enterprise by his youth worker, Luke set about establishing The Goodwood Company, a company that makes machine and hand tooled  gifts  out of reclaimed wood. Luke took on the role of Managing Director, working alongside two other team members successfully selling their oak house signs, clocks, candle holders and display cases.

After being introduced to the Young Enterprise Company programme Luke found stability and an opportunity to create his own business. He says “It gave me a bit of focus, something to look forward to. Being called homeless isn’t a nice title. People look at you in a bad way, but this gave me something to be proud of”.

Since then Luke has gone on to win multiple awards including Surrey Young Entrepreneur of the Year and the South East Retail Excellence Award. The Institute of Directors have presented him with student membership after he gave a  winning presentation at a Dragons Den event and the 95 directors there were entirely engaged by him and his performance.  He presented  entirely off the cuff and without prior warning.

Luke’s business, The Goodwood Company , has now attained contact with the National Trust and Loseley House and is looking to arrange a meeting with them to get Goodwood products on their shelves. Next year Goodwood will  license their company to other similar young people to make and sell their products while still retaining a percentage of the profit.

Luke says “I want to succeed in life and show people what I can do. No one should ever judge a person for having been homeless- I want people to see what I’m doing for myself now.

“I have discovered a new side of me, I knew I wanted to do business but I didn’t quite know how. Young Enterprise showed me a way to achieve this.”

Since the final Luke has been offered an apprenticeship with Pimlico Plumbers, who were hugely impressed with his story.