Apprentice winner Dr Leah Totton was “overwhelmed” by the support of her hometown, she said on her return to Derry at the weekend.
The Waterside entrepreneur was back in the city to join Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore as a speaker at the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce annual dinner.
However, before attending the glitzy celebration of local business, the past pupil of Foyle and Londonderry College was honoured at a civic reception in the Guildhall by Mayor of Derry, Councillor Martin Reilly.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’, the winner of the BBC’s The Aprentice show said she was “delighted” at the tribute.
“I couldn’t believe being offered a civic reception; it’s really overwhelming. It’s great to be back in my home city and this is a massive honour.”
She described the support of the people of Derry throughout her participation in Alan Sugar’s programme as “brilliant”.
“I’ve been so impressed with the city, the people have been so supportive,” she said.
The Waterside native is now looking forward to opening her first Dr Leah’s clinic in the City of London in late November followed by the rolling out of her line of skin care products in late spring next year.
“It’s really exciting. I still can’t believe it. It was absolutely crazy at the start . . . but now things have settled it’s just about getting things up and running.”
Addressing the Chamber dinner - which was themed Entrepreneurialism and Leadership’, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore paid tribute to Dr Leah as “a fantastic example of local entrepreneurial talent”.
He said she joins “a long line of women from Northern Ireland who have exhibited great inner strength, ingenuity and determination”.
Mr Gilmore said Derry’s City of Culture designation had “created a bridge to the future, a legacy that will endure, one that has secured this city’s reputation as a vibrant and creative place”.
“Just as Derry has been awakening towards this point for some time, this year the world has awakened to Derry’s presence on the international cultural scene,” he added.