Michael McGrath, CEO and founder of Herts-based charity, the Muscle Help Foundation (MHF), was surprised and delighted to win the ‘Social Enterprise of the Year’ Award at last Thursday night’s Inspiring Hertfordshire awards, a glittering black tie gala dinner, attended by over 350 Hertfordshire businessmen and women.

The awards took place at the state-of-the-art Porsche Centre Hatfield, one of the headline sponsors that also included LV= and headline media partner Hertfordshire Mercury. Other award sponsors included Ocado, Veolia and Aldwyck Housing Association. Patrons of the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce include Ashbourne Insurance, PwC, Affinity Water and Pitney Bowes.

Launched by the Herts Chamber in 2012, these awards focus on and celebrate the expertise, achievements and outstanding contribution that businesses and individuals make.

The response was phenomenal and, now into its fourth year, Inspiring Hertfordshire 2015 was bigger than ever. These awards enable Hertfordshire businesses to showcase their performance and achievements to clients and customers, suppliers, business alliances and to all of the Hertfordshire business community.

MHF delivers transformational, highly personalised experiences in the UK called ‘Muscle Dreams’ for children and young people with Muscular Dystrophy (MD) and allied neuromuscular conditions.

It was a doubly exciting night for Michael and MHF as he was also shortlisted for the ‘Diversity Champion Award for Charity’ award in the Excellence in Diversity Awards (EIDA), which took place at The Midlands Hotel in Manchester … on the same night! Whilst MHF didn’t win, the charity was delighted to have been shortlisted for this prestigious award by the EIDA, in association with the National Diversity Awards that honours the work of inclusive employers and unsung diversity champions across the UK.

J.P Morgan, the Guardian, ITV, PWC, Thomson Reuters, CIPD and the Co-operative were just some of the sponsors supporting a sky fall of inclusive talent for the EID awards: ‘Diversity Champions’, inclusive employers and pioneering campaigns from all aspects of diversity were shortlisted for the 2015 ceremony. Hundreds of nominations paid tribute to inspirational individuals and diverse companies nationwide that have showcased their incredible achievements to the equality agenda.

Diagnosed with MD at 18yrs, McGrath is the first and currently only, disabled person to have successfully reached both the North and South Poles – he said: “Winning the 2015 Inspiring Hertfordshire ‘Social Enterprise of the Year’ award and being shortlisted for the Excellence in Diversity ‘Diversity Champion for Charity’ award, all on the same night, is truly humbling.”

“Thank you to both the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and to Excellence in Diversity for recognising our efforts. We’re delighted that MHF’s work has been acknowledged in this way. This awareness will I hope enable the charity to reach more children and young people with muscular dystrophy, which is the singular focus of our recently launched #powerof657 campaign which aims to deliver 657 ‘Muscle Dreams’, one for each muscle in the human body,” added McGrath.

“It’s my belief that disabled people in society today, especially children and young people, want to be overwhelmed by ordinariness, want to be valued regardless of circumstance or ability, want to fully participate and positively contribute. MHF’s tagline ‘STRONGER TOGETHER’ resonates: as a fearless champion of inclusion, celebrating difference is something that lies at the very heart of our work and our impact.”