A city entrepreneur who overcome a tough upbringing to create a successful youth organisation supporting hard-to-reach young people has been nominated for a national award.

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Elli Chapman, director of Norwich-based Culture Works East, has been named as a finalist in the 2012 NatWest Everywoman Awards.

The programme champions women who have made their mark in the world. Miss Chapman, 34, is on the shortlist for the Demeter category of the awards for woman aged 26 to 34.

A spokesman for the Everywoman Awards said: “Despite the difficulties of her upbringing and a confining disability, young mother Elli Chapman was determined that she would succeed with her dream to set up Culture Works East, specialising in high-quality creative arts to inspire young people to reach their full potential.”

Miss Chapman, who has hypermobility syndrome, was once one of the hard-to-reach youngsters her organisation now seeks to help.

Having left school at 14 without any qualifications, she was pregnant at the age of 16. She said: “I am very proud to be a finalist, particularly of an award that promotes female entrepreneurs.

“I set up my own business, not despite of my experiences as a young person and my disability, but because of it. I believe that every young person can be successful and achieve their goals with hard work, aspiration, and the right support.”

Culture Works East, based at the Open youth venue, uses a variety of creative and media-related activities to engage young people and provide education, training, and support to people aged 13 to 25.

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