Where Passion Meets Potential

At FIRST we support young people, startups and employees to reach their potential and beyond

You are First

As a business with a social purpose, we believe that developing leadership and progression skills are the keys to personal growth and sustainable economies.

Our motivation for our work comes from encouraging, developing and connecting early stage founders, young people and professionals to their wider communities so that jobs and businesses are created.

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Sign up now Level 1 in understanding enterprise

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Our work with Young People


Working throughout the UK and beyond, we support young people to develop confidence and essential skills so they can find a job, start a business or initiate a civil project.

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Our work with Businesses & Employees

From meaningful CSR opportunities to support early stage founders to leadership and confidence training for junior staff. We get your business and staff team connected.

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Our work with Early stage founders

Self belief, commercial awareness and connections to customers, mentors and peers - we're working hard to improve startup business rates and essential skills for ambitious founders.

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Celebrating North East Talent

Alongside our partners, Startup Awards North East shines a spotlight, celebrates and connects ambitious, early stage founders to life changing opportunities and experiences.

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Meet the Team

Caroline Theobald

Caroline has spent her career connecting North East business people and is passionate about creating commercial and life opportunities. She was awarded a CBE for services to business and entrepreneurship in 2016 and is a lifetime holder of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. As cofounder of FIRST her work focuses on strategy, leading the advisory board and inspiring and supporting the MD.

Charlotte Windebank

As FIRST’s Managing Director, Charlotte is responsible for business development, direction and quality. She supports the operations team and ensures all company outputs are aligned to objectives, values, and mission. Alongside her role as director, Charlotte is an advocate for social and structural change within entrepreneurship and is regularly invited to speak about research, innovations and positive actions towards increased inclusivity and empowerment for early stage founders, young people and junior staff.

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Sam Gallilee

Sam has 20 years experience working across the education and youth sector for school trusts, local councils and national charities. Sam’s passion and experience ensures all of FIRST’s projects create meaningful outcomes whilst supporting the team to ensure they have the resources they need to deliver their projects to the highest quality standards.

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Zoe Maylam

Zoe leads on all of FIRST’s engagement, recruiting and supporting young people, early stage founders and professionals through our activities including our recently renamed: Startup Awards North East (previously the If We Can You Can Challenge). Zoe loves working with early stage founders to develop their skills, confidence and networking abilities and loves speaking with partners and startups to see how FIRST can add value and deliver impact.

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Simon Noble

Simon works with 18-29 year olds in North Tyneside to develop enterprise skills and confidence through workshops, mentoring and 121 support. He loves creating unique and engaging learning resources and has a passion for public speaking.

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Sam Clegg

Samuel Clegg is an advocate for entrepreneurship, business and innovation, and is highly passionate about supporting and helping others in their business journeys. He is a business owner, advisor, academic, and published researcher with over 10 years’ experience within the SME and Startup profession. Sam works as a tutor for our enterprise courses and brings energy, passion and first hand knowledge of what it's like to run a business.

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