The winners of the fourth Stars of Business Awards, run by Penrith Chamber of Trade and sponsored by Dodd & Co have been revealed in a glitzy ceremony on Friday 12th June.
The awards, which were part of the Chamber’s Annual Dinner, took place at the North Lakes Hotel in Penrith with the theme ‘Celebrate Cumbria’. Over 120 business people from the area came together to celebrate the wonderful business landscape Penrith has to offer.
Guest speaker of the evening was David Beeby, former CEO of Innovia Group, who gave an insightful speech about the future of the polymer banknote produced by Innovia Films and its introduction by the Bank of England – from right here in Cumbria! Other special guests included local artists Tim Gustard, who was invited to be MC for the evening and also fresh from his appointment as Councillor for the Economy Portfolio Holder David Haymers MBE.
The awards, which were put together by Penrith Chamber of Trade and managed by Lisa Jackson of Acorn Marketing (Cumbria) Ltd, were to recognise the multitude of thriving businesses in Penrith and the local area and the difference they make to the local economy in our region. Voting for this year’s awards was once again conducted online and over 1,000 nominations were made by the general public for a wide variety of businesses.
Winning businesses in the 2014 Stars of Business awards were:
Winner of the Independent Retailer of the Year Award (sponsored by Penrith Building Society)
MC Ferguson. The judges commented that MC Ferguson plays a hugely valuable role in offering something different in Penrith and in a very high street driven and competitive market.
The judges liked how they work closely with other local businesses, suppliers and artists to provide customers with a real ‘local’ shopping experience. They were particularly impressed with this businesses’ application form and the wonderful testimonials from their customers – from right across the country and said “who would have thought a bathroom shop would bring people to Penrith”
Winner of the Independent Business of the Year Award (sponsored by Armstrong Watson)
One Call Services. The judges were very impressed with this business…and that it was a business in a niche market truly dedicated to its customers. One Call Services not only meets the day to day demands of running a successful business, but also the needs of the local community and providing a lifeline and essential service to its customers.
Winner of the award for Outstanding Contribution to Business (Sponsored by Burnett’s Solicitors)
Alan Reading from J&J Graham. This category was extremely close, but the judges felt that Alan was not only passionate about his business, but about the town and is such a great ambassador for Penrith. He is enthusiastic, dedicated, a leader and a vital part of the community.
Winner of the award for Unsung Hero (Sponsored by Scott Duff & Co)
Pat Ivinson from First Class kids Nursery. This is a really special award as it recognises the work of people that ensure the smooth running of a business, but behind the scenes.
It is often the unseen staff that makes a business successful and this award is a celebration of the wonderful achievements of some of these people and the contribution they make to the businesses they work in. There were some fantastic nominations in this category and the comments received were heart warming. Judges felt Pat was a genuine ‘Unsung Hero’ – she does numerous voluntary roles, continually helping others and helping to drive First Class Kids nursery forward. One judge commented “every village needs a Pat”
Winner of Star of the Community Award (sponsored by the Pride in Penrith Lottery)
Langwathby May Day. Applications for this category were selected from all the groups who had received a grant from the Pride in Penrith Lottery in 2014.
The public could vote for their favourite community group or event in this category. The judges struggled choosing a winner in this category as all the projects were so different. Whilst all the projects were worthy winners and the people who run them should all deserve an award; the judges chose a project which they felt made a significant impact to their local community and was run entirely by volunteers. The team behind Langwathby May Day has ensured that a 100 year long event continues to flourish and they do it with dedication, passion and keep local traditions alive; many of which are lost in today’s modern society.
Finalists and winners of the Stars of Business Awards were all nominated for their contribution to business in the local area and were judged by an independent panel of business experts from out of the Penrith area. Businesses were judged independently from the Chamber Committee and therefore decisions were made on an impartial basis and only on the nominations received online and supporting documentation submitted by each business.
Amyn Fazal, President of Penrith Chamber of Trade, Annual Dinner speech June 2015.
Good evening to Chamber members, their guests, all award nominees, their guests, our special guests – MC Tim Gustard, local artist, guest speaker David Beeby, and – fresh from his appointment as Councillor for the business portfolio – David Hymers. I am delighted that you are all here to enjoy this great annual event. The Penrith Chamber’s Stars of Business Awards Gala dinner.
For those who do not know me, my name is Amyn Fazal and I am President of the Penrith Chamber of Trade and I’m also CEO of Penrith’s own building society-Britain’s best local building society and named after the town it serves. I really look forward to speaking with as many of you as I can afterwards. There are also many members of the Chamber’s executive team present here tonight: Heidi Marshall the Vice President who will take over from me in 2016, Fiona Askins, Kate Cunningham, Secretary of the Chamber, Alan Reading, Liz Allinson, Helen Little, Karen and Nick Harvey and of course my predecessor, Richard Utting. It’s a dedicated team that has Penrith’s interests firmly embedded in it and I’m very lucky to have such great support. These are all professional local business people who are respected and knowledgeable and keen to meet you, to discuss your ideas, ambitions and thoughts about business life as well as Penrith life in general. We mustn’t forget that the executive give their own time for free for the Chamber.
At these dinners, we like to have a theme every year and this year we are celebrating the Best of Cumbria. Those of us that either live and or work in Penrith already know how lucky we are. We really believe that it’s the best place to live work and play and it’s not surprising that Cumbria has one of the highest rates of life expectancy in the country.
We have some big businesses in Cumbria– BAE Systems, Westmorland Limited, Cranstons, Lakeland and, of course, Innovia Films who will soon be printing the new plastic banknotes! I’m sure David will speak more on that later. We are also delighted to welcome Rheged, who are part of the Westmorland group, as new Chamber members.
But it’s not just the big businesses but also the small ones that attract national and indeed international attention – I’m thinking of Dalemain which is a local attraction but also has the world international marmalade festival now in its 11 year. I’m pleased to welcome Dalemain as new members too. Penrith is rightly celebrated for the range and quality of its independent shops and these are the bedrock of the town’s Chamber of Trade.
And then there’s the Winter Droving Festival that has generated so much national interest. It’s a great Penrith event that attracts so much footfall into the area and gives businesses the opportunity to showcase their goods and services to a wider national community. It’s an event which the town looks forward to and enjoys so much, and one that really highlights Penrith’s great sense of community. As my daughter calls it – “A Village festival with an edge”.
In the relatively short time I have been in Penrith I have seen the town experience major changes. Some of these are as a result of demography – more people moving to the area leading to demands on services. In turn, these demands lead to changes in the supply of shops such as M&S and Sainsbury’s and other services. So there are exciting times ahead for the Chamber and the local business community. We will be ready for the challenge and Penrith will go from strength to strength.
I have mentioned already that Penrith and the surrounding area is a great place to live work and play. As well as the unspoilt and breathtaking beauty of the countryside and the variety and character of nearby villages, there is just so much in and around the town itself. Most importantly, it’s us – the people – who make the biggest impact: on each other; on those that do business with us, and on those that visit us either on holiday from time to time or more regularly, and more than once a year.
So what about that change that is happening in Penrith. I know that it’s a cliche to talk about change and that change sometimes leads to fear but change is a constant and the best way to deal with it is to be in charge of it. Not to let change be in charge of us. We all know that there are opportunities for businesses in Penrith and Cumbria. David Hymers of Totalpost and David Beeby (our guest speaker) have both led businesses that have seized these opportunities.
From my persective both as leading a significant and historic local financial institution and heading up the chamber which represents all the businesses in Penrith, I see us as needing 3 things in order to grasp the opportunities I have just mentioned…
The first of these is about WORKING TOGETHER or collaborating, supporting and teaching and learning from each other. By opening up, sharing and identifying opportunities for collaboration, we can make huge strides. So my first call would be for the officers of the council, local councillors, community groups of all kinds including those that represent faith groups, charities and larger representative groups such as BID, Penrith Partnership, Eden Arts and the Chamber of Trade to pool their intellectual resources even more effectively than they are currently doing.
SECONDLY-and in response to my first call to be better at working together, I would say that what is required is leadership. If there is an absence of leadership, we get a void. No individual organisation I have mentioned has the answer on its own. We all want to succeed and have good intentions but sometimes lack the direction to achieve it. At this point it’s easy to say well it’s somebody else’s job to lead – be that the District Council, Chamber, BID, local charities – and so on. We all have a part to play in getting together behind a common goal and naturally it does fall to the elected representatives to encourage the development of a common vision and a push to then achieving that vision. My meetings with both the CEO of EDC Robin Hooper and the new leader of the council Kevin Beaty have given me optimism that a captivating vision and results for Penrith will follow and which will harness all the community and business groups’ interests.
So we need a collaborative approach and we need leadership but THIRDLY – we need positivity which – let’s face it – is a lot more fun and a lot more productive than the opposite. Positivity makes things happen, negativity stops things happening. Positivity is optimistic about life and people and empowers all of us to do the things that will lead to the best outcome for everybody-negativity is pessimistic about life and what it has to offer. And that’s where the theme of Celebrating Cumbria comes in. Today is about that that positive energy so let’s celebrate with our winners and with everybody who wants to change things for the better.
Before I hand over to Tim/David, I want to say some thank yous –
To the headline sponsors Dodd and Co and the other main sponsors Armstrong Watson, Burnetts Solicitors, Scott Duff and Co Solicitors, Pride in Penrith Lottery and of course your local building society Penrith BS, all those nominated the businesses and individuals, Chamber members and their guests for supporting tonights events, my executive team, the North Lakes Hotel, Jili Allen, Razamatazz, the judges who I will mention by name later, my friend and fine artist Tim Gustard, David Beeby, David Hymers, and last but by no means least – Lisa Jackson from Acorn Marketing who has once again done such a great job working with Kate Cunningham on this event-please may I ask you all to join me in saying thanks to these fine people in the traditional way.