The breadth and talent of the companies which make Lancashire the business powerhouse it is were put in the spotlight in the glittering surroundings of Blackpool Tower Ballroom in the BIBAS awards ceremony.
And the man who picked up the lifetime achievement award – Lancastrian of the Year – Tony Attard said it all: Lancashire is one of the most amazing place in the world.”
Tony, who is High Sheriff but better known for leading Burnley-based international contract fabrics company Panaz, and his work with Marketing Lancashire, was shocked but delighted to win the grand title.
He said he was stunned to hear his name called out for the prestigious award.
He said: “Lancashire is one of the most amazing places in the world.
“We are the best employers, best manufacturers, best creative people.
“We have a can do attitude in Lancashire which makes us a very powerful force. So this is an incredible accolade to receive. I am shocked and bewildered.”
Winner of the Leisure business of the year title was, The Winter Gardens.
The grand old lady of Blackpool is set to see some changes with the building of a new conference centre but things are doing very nicely at the moment and providing work for 154 people. Michael Williams said: “We are delighted to win for the third year in a row. It is testament to the team effort and standard of service.
“I think the uniqueness of the Winter Gardens also makes it special and the breadth of events we run from ballroom dancing to the young farmers to pensioners conventions, mean there is something for everyone.
“We did not expect to win and felt so nervous beforehand so its really satisfying and I would like to thank the team and Blackpool Council for its support.“An
d of course with all that will be happening here in the coming years, the future for the Winter Gardens is looking bright.”
The sheer diversity was highlighted by the business person of the year award which went to David Marks, co-director smart fertiliser and crops specialist Levity Crop Science of Bilsborrow.
David said: “It feels fantastic to win. I am slightly different to what people might think is the typical business person. I have autism and typically autistic people don’t get to be in the position I am.
"Less than five per cent of people with my condition have a job despite them often being characterised by being in the top two per cent for intelligence.
“It is a shame because society would do well to utilise those skills.”
Employer of the year was Blackpool-based FTS Merit. The company was founded in 1994 ad has 72 staff. It offers electrical contracting –international fire data security with Blue Chip customers.
Steve Whitehouse, director, said: “This is about all the people working here. We try to listen to the staff and if you do you benefit. They have great ideas, and great vision.
"Without them we are nothing. The team behind the company is phenomenal.”
The full list of BIBAs winners is:
Lancastrian of the Year: Tony Attard OBE.
Business of the Year: Utiligroup.
Business Person of the Year: David Marks, Levity Crop Science.
Most Inspiring Young Person: Henry Hargreaves.
Creative Business of the Year: Sunshine Events UK.
Employer of the Year: FTS Merit.
Engineering Business of the Year: Pakawaste Group.
Exporter of the Year: Flavour Warehouse.
Family Business of the Year: First Trace Heating Direct.
Professional Service Business of the Year: Hest Bank Dental Care.
Manufacturer of the Year: Flavour Warehouse.
Transport and Distribution Business of the Year: Next Day Freight.
Construction Business of the Year: Pinington.
Leisure and Tourism Business of the Year: Winter Gardens Blackpool.
Third Sector Business of the Year: Positive Action in the Community.
Service Business of the Year: Sunshine Events UK.
New Business of the Year: JFN Integrated Solutions.
Micro-Business of the Year: Group55.
Small Business of the Year: Better2Know.
Medium Business of the Year: Roccia - Tiles and Bathrooms.