Disabled Ben impresses Sir Stelios

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WHEN he was a teenager, Ben Wolfenden was told that he would be dead before he was 30.

Thankfully, this bleak prognosis has proved to be wrong, and Mr Wolfenden has responded by living every day to the full.

Today, 31-year-old Mr Wolfenden is the boss of a flourishing digital marketing agency, and a proud father who wants to give hope to other sufferers from cystic fibrosis and diabetes. The Leeds-based entrepreneur has been shortlisted for the prestigious Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs 2014, which honours business leaders who have overcome significant hurdles.

He has seen off tough competition to make it to the final three of the awards, which are run by EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability. Now in its eighth year, the awards recognise the achievements of disabled entrepreneurs and offers a £50,000 cash prize to the winner. Mr Wolfenden, who has 50 per cent lung function, started digital marketing agency Visibilis in 2010 to help businesses grow online. Despite undergoing a gruelling regime of medication and five hours of physiotherapy every day, Mr Wolfenden and his team grew Visibilis by more than 1,000 per cent from 2012 to 2013, and 2014 is also exceeding expectations.

“I have always wanted to make things happen,’’ Mr Wolfenden said. “The key really is time management.”

Mr Wolfenden has another reason to keep striving. He has a five month old son Max, an IVF baby, who gives him an extra incentive to continue to work hard and fight his disability.

Mr Wolfenden said: “My disability has meant I’ve never been able to have a ‘conventional’ job. I’m unable to work in a carpeted, air conditioned or dusty environment. So instead of feeling sorry for myself I became determined to create a successful business that worked for me. Winning the Stelios Award would be fantastic.”

The award winners will be announced in London tonight.

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