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Meet our Founders, Jo Maltby and Melanie Malcom

The YCA was founded by Joanne Maltby and Melanie Malcolm. They both saw an opportunity to recognise and raise the awareness of local people and independent businesses that are inspirational in their own way or in the markets they serve. The YCA demonstrates that through adversity and courage, light can shine through in so many different ways and give the deserving nominees, finalists, and winners the exposure that is so deserving.

Jo Maltby | CoFounder| Yorkshire Choice Awards
Melanie Malcolm | Co Founder | Yorkshire Choice Awards

""What started as a modest endeavour has evolved into a prestigious event, serving as the ultimate stage for recognising and celebrating the very best our region has to offer.""

"We couldn’t make this happen without the help and support of so many and we will always be eternally grateful. From presenters to audio/visual and from stage design to lighting - they know who they are and we couldn’t thank them enough.”

About Jo
About Mel

In the digital era, Jo recognised early on the significance of supporting small businesses. Her initiatives like #HandpickedNetwork (formerly #wetherbyhour and #harrogatehour) not only connected businesses online but also fostered genuine community interactions with live gatherings.


Her innovative Handpicked Local subscription service brought the quintessence of the high street online, epitomising the synergy of community and technology and recognising the challenges that small businesses face in a world dominated by major conglomerates, Jo introduced a Local E-Magazine.

This innovation made advertising not only affordable for these businesses but also ensured they reached a vast audience, allowing them to compete more effectively with bigger enterprises.


Jo has been honoured with a multitude of awards over the years, including the prestigious titles of Wetherby Townsperson of the Year, recipient of the Insight with a Passion Award, and the esteemed Stray FM Good Neighbour Local Hero Award.


In addition to her accolades, she has been actively involved in neighbourhood activities, lending her support to events such as the Wetherby Lions Senior Citizens Party and playing a key role in organising the Wetherby Christmas Light Switch On for numerous years. Her commitment to her community was further demonstrated when she was elected as Wetherby Town Councillor, serving from May 2019 to 2023, underscoring her unwavering dedication to her roots.

Director: The Yorkshire Choice Awards

Founder: #HandpickedNetwork

Owner: Handpicked Local

Melanie is a pioneering woman in business with numerous accolades to her name. Always looking to inspire and support people within her networks.

As a Director of several organisations across various sectors, Melanie can turn her skills to any given task. With years of event management and marketing experience under her belt running conferences and events for business and charity sectors, Melanie took up the exciting opportunity to collaborate with Jo to form the Yorkshire Choice Awards.

She is Co-Owner of award-winning, Leeds-based Bespoke Home Cinemas and over the last 2 decades has run this successful AV company with her husband. Melanie also sits on the Board of Directors for CEDIA, a global trade association for companies that design, manufacture, and install technology for the home. More recently Melanie was appointed a Director for the good cause initiative Together For Cinema CIC, supporting AV companies to provide cinema rooms to Children’s Hospices around the UK.

It goes without saying that Melanie is passionate about giving back, supporting good causes and helping individuals and organisations gain exposure and recognition for their well-earned achievements.

Director: The Yorkshire Choice Awards

Founder: Yorkshire Ladies Links

Director: Bespoke Home Cinemas

Board Director: CEDIA

Director: Together For Cinema

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