The best BIBAs ever – that was the verdict on a star-studded awards evening, as the cream of Lancashire businesses were honoured.
TV presenter Eamonn Holmes and former X Factor winner Matt Cardle were the surprise stars at the Blackpool Tower event.
More than 900 members of Lancashire’s business community packed into the ballroom for the North and Western Chamber of Commerce annual event, described as “the one they all want to win”.
A total of 18 awards were handed out to businesses judged to be the best in their field.
Preston Bus walked off with the Leadership Team of the Year award and Dr Caroline Chesworth of the city’s Mad Science was voted Businesswoman Of The Year.
Dr Chesworth, whose team provide hands-on practical science camps for youngsters, said she was thrilled with the award.
She said: “Children must be curious about the world. We tap into their curiosity and inspire them.”
Preston Bus were praised for their “passion, leadership ethos and commitment to develop their workforce”.
Preston-based Soap Media Ltd scooped the e-Business of the Year award.
Clitheroe businessman John Lancaster was honoured with the Lancastrian of the Year award.
Mr Lancaster was roused from his sick bed to attend the event.
He was especially delighted as his son Steven’s team won an award for their Grand venue at Clitheroe.
This Morning host Eamonn Holmes hosted the event with aplomb, and introduced the shortlist in each category.
And X Factor winner Matt Cardle took the audience by surprise, as he walked onto the stage unannounced to open the show with The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.
After 16 awards presentations, guests enjoyed dinner before the chief prizes were presented.
Chamber chief executive Babs Murphy told the winners from the stage: “You must all be very proud. We are all so proud of you.”
Ms Murphy said today that the packed awards night was the best so far.
The judges had also had a difficult time choosing the winners. She said: “The calibre of entries this year was exceptionally high and everyone who entered deserves admiration.
“Participating businesses gained real benefits and opportunities to promote their achievements at the highest level.
“The BIBA’s are all about recognising excellence and achievement in companies operating in Lancashire and the Chamber is proud to play its role in supporting, nurturing and encouraging business excellence in the business sector through these Awards.”
The BIBAs winners
E-business of the year: Soap Media Ltd, Preston;
Exporter of the year: Panaz Ltd, Burnley;
Small business of the year: Healthpoint, Blackpool
New business of the year: BR Contracting Ltd, Blackburn;
Creative business of the year: The Grand, Clitheroe;
Entrepeneur of the year: Daniel Cuffe and Peter Taylor, Lytham;
Excellence in customer service: UPL Ltd, Greenhalgh;
Manufacturer of the year: Laila’s Fine Foods Ltd, Bispham;
Employer of the year: F Parkinson Ltd, Blackpool;
Service Business of the year: Springhill Care Group Ltd, Accrington;
Green business of the year: Roaming Roosters, Higham;
Businesswoman of the year: Dr Caroline Chesworth, Mad Science, Preston;
Medium business of the year: Panaz Ltd, Burnley;
Leadership team of the year: Preston Bus;
Change for growth: Connect 2 Cleanrooms Ltd;
Inspiring Award: Inspired Energy Ltd, Kirkham;
Business of the year: Fairbank Environmental Ltd, Skelmersdale;
Lancastrian of the year: John Lancaster.