ARTIST Harriet Barber is in the finals of national awards for her inspirational battle against breast cancer.

She has been recognised in the 2009 Barclays Trading Places Awards for building her art business while fighting the illness.

Harriet, of East Chaldon, said: “I am thrilled. It is nice to receive recognition of any kind.

“It has been a difficult year and a struggle. I have moved and can look back and think that I did all right. I was determined not to let the cancer take over and to keep painting throughout.”

Harriet added: “Now I am back to my normal self and have my normal energy levels back.”

The Barclays Trading Places Awards honour men and women who have turned their lives around by choosing to start up a business in the face of adversity – whether its dealing with illness, disabilities, family problems or unemployment.

Former teacher Harriet is married to Danny and they have two children Dorelia, eight, and Maeve, five.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer during the week of her 40th birthday and just one month after she set up her own business.

She was faced with the life-threatening illness and months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

But Harriet battled the nausea and fatigue from radiotherapy and chemotherapy to concentrate on developing her business between treatments.

Harriet was determined to keep painting during her illness so she didn’t ‘tune’ out of the process of painting.

She secured a commission from a private client and her work was displayed at two London galleries.

One of her recent commissions was for a lifesize painting of three children on a beach.

But Harriet also contributed a number of paintings for an exhibition to raise money for breast cancer charities. Her painting of Winfrith Heath helped raised £1,100 for the Winchester Cancer Trust and West Dorset Breast Cancer Support Group.

Now she is looking forward to her second year of trading.

Her business involves painting for exhibitions and selling works as well as commissions.

Harriet is also one of 40 artists painting for a daffodil-themed exhibition for the Precious Lives campaign for a new children’s hospice in Cornwall.

The works will be exhibited at the Gallery Tresco in the Isles of Scilly.

The national finalists in the awards will be competing in three categories – Triumph over Disability, Success after Unemployment and the Spirit of Inspiration Award.

One will be named as the overall the 2009 Barclays Trading Places Winner.

Each category winner will win £5,000 for their business, courtesy of Barclays, and all national finalists will receive £2,000 worth of computer software.

The finals ceremony is at the InterContinental Hotel in London in the autumn.