Drew Cockton’s amazing legacy set to live on

Charity fundraiser is set up in tribute to Wirral entrepreneur Drew Cockton who died last weekend and the LGBTQ+ Business Awards he founded are also set to continue. Tony McDonough reports

Drew Cockton
Drew Cockton at the LGBTQ+ Businesses Awards on Friday, October 21


Less than a week after Wirral businessman Drew Cockton died suddenly at home a fundraiser set up in tribute to him has already raised thousands of pounds for charity.

And it has been revealed that the North West LGBTQ+ Businesses Awards, founded by Drew, are set to continue in the coming years. Organisers and sponsors are keen for his legacy to continue.

Drew died at home in Wirral on Saturday, October 22, less than 24 hours after the second annual LGBTQ+ Business Awards were held in front of hundreds of guests at the Titanic Hotel in Liverpool. He was 36.

On Thursday afternoon the official release detailing the winners of the awards was released. It had been delayed out of respect to Drew and his family.

He established the awards in 2021. And he was also the founder of the successful and award-winning home fragrance brand, Owen Drew. Earlier this year he appeared on the BBC TV show Dragons’ Den. He secured a £50,000 investment from ‘Dragon’ Toulker Suleyman.

His passing was announced by his mum Kate Drew in a Facebook post on Sunday morning. She wrote: “We are devastated beyond belief. Life is never going to be the same again. Rest peacefully darling boy.”

Later on Sunday, Drew’s partner Ryan Gunn, posted his own online tribute, saying: “Words cannot describe the level of hurt I am currently feeling. Life will never be the same without you in it. I have loved every second with you and I was looking forward to spending the rest of my life with you.”

This week, a Just Giving charity fundraiser was set up in Drew’s name by his business partner and best friend Mike Skeggs. The duo had launched the business from a kitchen table in 2016. Mike initially set a target of £1,000 but, at the time of writing, the total raised was already close to £8,000.

Speaking to Liverpool media outlet, The Guide, Mike said: “Drew had spent his whole life giving back. Our ethos as soon as we started Owen Drew was that we were very lucky to be in the position that we were in, and we wanted to help others so we’ve always done charity work.


Drew Cockton
Drew Cockton, above, was ‘everything to everyone’ says his business partner and best friend Mike Skeggs


“We always focused on doing whatever we could to help so starting this appeal was a natural progression. That’s what he did in life and if something good can come out of something so terrible that’s what he’d want us to do and it’s what I felt I wanted to do to commemorate him.

“Drew has been so important to so many people. He was everything to everyone… it’s been really lovely to see everyone take the time to leave a message, and to donate when we’re in the depths of the cost of living crisis.”

Click here to make a donation

More than 400 people attended the second North West LGBTQ+ Business Awards at the Rum Warehouse at the Titanic Hotel on Friday, October 21.

Hosted by The Guide’s Jay Hynd and Claire Simmo the awards were an evening of “positivity and celebration”, shining a light on the achievements of LGBTQ+ Businesses, allies of the community and individuals who deserved recognition.

The awards, which recognised business excellence and personal achievement were sponsored by TalkTalk, Chillimix Holidays, Pipsqueak Portraits and The Guide Liverpool.

Overall winner on the evening was Jamie Christon, chief executive at Chester Zoo. He was recognised as an inspirational leader having led the zoo through a period of ambitious change and growth.

Jamie, who is openly gay, has held a number of c-suite level positions for some of the country’s top businesses during his career. He has been responsible for modernising workplaces and has implemented game-changing diversity and inclusion strategies.

Other winners on the night included Paul Kallee-Grover of Ki Partnerships who took home the Outstanding Achievement Award, The Hive by VH Interiors for Best Small Business Award and Homes for Students for the Investment in People Award.

Katie Isaacson, director at event management company Cool Breeze who produced the awards with Drew, said: “The LGBTQ+ community is a major economic driver in the North West. These awards celebrated business and personal success but also innovation, strength, tenacity and community spirit.”

Category sponsors supporting the awards were: Westminster Associates, Everton Football Club, Homes for Students, Growth Platform, MSB Solicitors, The Metro, Mason’s, Maddison J Creations, Morecrofts, Cosmetic Perfection and Wild Thang. Staging and AV production was looked after by Proud House Events.


orth West LGBTQ+ Business Awards 2022
Overall Winner of the 2022 North West LGBTQ+ Business Awards Jamie Christon, chief executive of Chester Zoo (left) presented by Jon Nowell Director of Small Business for TalkTalk


In a statement the organisers said: “Drew believed in diversity and inclusivity in all businesses, he dedicated himself to building deep rooted relationships, promoting the ideology that the world would be a better place if we all lifted each other up. 

“Drew’s infectious passion, entrepreneurial spirit, his love of bringing people together and his huge charitable heart will be truly missed.

“His legacy will continue through the North West LGBTQ+ Business Awards, all of the organisers and sponsors are proud to have supported him.”

The full list of winners and finalists is:

Young Person in Business, sponsored by Everton
WINNER: Joshua Lloyd Griffin
Liam Mitchell, Mr Tumble Liverpool
Luke Davies, Polari
Oliver Jude, Oliver Jude Clothing

Best New Business Award, Sponsored by Maddison J Creations
WINNER: Adam Sutton Estates
Billie The Brand Store and CiCi Morcroft

LGBTQ+ Ally Award, Sponsored by MSB Solicitors.
WINNER: Merseymade
Dobie Optimum Fitness
Dolphin Health Club
The Generation

Entrepreneurial Spirit, Sponsored by Westminster Associates
WINNER: Oliver Jude, Oliver Jude Clothing

Outstanding Personal Achievement Award sponsored by Owen Drew
WINNER: Paul Kallee-Grover, KI Partnerships
David Griffiths, Allport Dental
Joshua Kelly, Hair Choice
Lee Chambers, Essentialise

Community Impact Award, Sponsored by Homes for Students
WINNER: Adam Brown Dance Company
Markos Malone
Sophie Green
Sort Your Fit Out
Zacc Keogh

LGBTQ+ Hospitality Award, Sponsored by Chilli Mix Holidays
WINNER: Craig Cavanagh, Alma De Cuba
Box Leisure Recruitment
FIKA Liverpool
Yas Bean

Best Small Business, sponsored by Growth Platform
WINNER: The Hive by VH Interiors
Little Bear’s Fudgery
Red Floral Architecture
Splodge Creative
Unit3 Design Studio

Best Employer Award sponsored by Mason’s
WINNER: Softcat
Chester Zoo
Heritage Great Britain

Diversity and Inclusion Award sponsored by Cosmetic Perfection
WINNER: BT (BT consumer- BT/EE/Plusnet) part of BT group plc
DAM Health
Homes for Students
United Utilities

Investment in People Award, Sponsored by The Guide Liverpool
WINNER: Homes for Students.

Best Customer Service Award, sponsored by Wild Thang
WINNER: Dolphin Health Club.

Best Social Media Award and is sponsored by Pipsqueak Portraits
WINNER: Hair Choice.

Overall Winner of LGBTQ+ awards and is sponsored by TalkTalk
WINNER: Jamie Christon Chief Executive, Chester Zoo. 

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