The boss of a Sheffield lifting gear company has overcome sexism and ageism to win a top industry award.

Ella Cheetham took home the ‘CEOs Special Award’ in a contest organised by worldwide advisory body the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association.

It was presented by Countdown star Rachel Riley.

The award comes after Ella took over as boss of Lifting Gear Products in May last year aged just 19 – and launched a major modernisation drive.

She said: “I cannot express my gratitude enough.

“This is not just a personal achievement but an achievement for Lifting Gear Products and the Europa Group.

“Big thank you to my team within LGP and the group and to all customers and suppliers for backing me every step. This wouldn’t have been possible without everyone.”

Ella said she faced sexism and ageism when she first took over but found the confidence to confront her critics and launch a growth programme.

It came after she turned down a university place, with a bursary, to start full time at the family firm, which was ‘stuck in the past’.

LGP, based at Goliath Work, Petre Street, Burngreave, operates in a sector where “hairy-arsed engineers are used to dealing with hairy-arsed engineers,” Ella said.

Under her leadership LGP has revamped its offices, signed more than 150 new customers and had a clear- out running to more than 15 skips.

It is part of the Europa Engineering group of five firms owned by Ella’s dad Paul Cheetham.

Founded in 1952, it once occupied several buildings and supplied huge organisations like the Coal Board. Today it is in one unit.

Ella knows the business inside out, having worked for the group since she was 13, including taking minutes in board meetings.

She went to an all-girls school in Wakefield and the teachers warned she would ruin her life if she did not to go to university, she says.

But she says: “I’m doing what I love.”