Inspirational woman lifts herself to new heights with award

Jill Riley
Jill Riley

The female co-founder of one the world’s biggest mini crane suppliers has been honoured at a glossy fashion magazine’s awards.

In an industry dominated by men, Gill Riley has built up her Thame-based company, GGR Group, into a multi-million pound success after setting it up with £5,000 15 years ago.

To mark her achievement, she was highly commended in the ‘Pioneer’ category, which recognises trailblazing women, at Red’s Hot Women Awards.

The 41 year old was up against stiff competition, including the producer of the London 2012 Olympic torch relay and British triathlete Chrissie Wellington.

Mrs Riley said: “I’m glad they’re recognising people outside of the fashion industry and somebody that does construction.”

She started the mini crane and lifting equipment hire company with her brother Graeme and it has gone from strength to strength, employing more than 120 people in the UK. It has twice made the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 businesses list and worked on projects including construction of the London Shard.

Being a mother of four makes her story particularly inspirational, but Mrs Riley says she wouldn’t have been able to achieve anything without a strong support network and her team’s great work ethic.

She said: “The people who work for us are so hard working. We just don’t give up and have had the courage to take risks.”

Despite the nature of the industry, GGR employs many women and has recently taken on its first female crane operator, something Mrs Riley is very proud of.

She said: “I’m into a bit of girl power.”

But Mrs Riley is just one of her family’s success stories. Her ten-year-old daughter Harley became the youngest person ever to pick up a BAFTA award for her performance as the voice of cartoon character Peppa Pig and is to appear in Last King of Scotland director Kevin Macdonald’s new film, How I Live Now. Meanwhile, another of her daughters, Olivia, had a part in hit TV comedy Rev, which starred Tom Hollander.