Business Awards 2012: Star performers crowned at glittering ceremony
RESILIENCE, determination and a will to succeed.
These are just three of the qualities that have helped businesses across Hull and the East Riding survive and thrive in a difficult economic environment.
And nobody could deny the past 12 months have been a challenge.
Nonetheless, businesses and individuals in our region are continuing to roll up their sleeves and work hard to ensure future prosperity.
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Last night, firms that are helping to oil the wheels of East Yorkshire's economy were celebrated at the annual Mail News and Media Business Awards.
Speaking to more than 300 guests at Willerby Manor, Mail editor Neil Hodgkinson said: "It has been another brutal 12 months. A double-dip recession, banks that still won't lend, a brittle confidence in the business sector and in the country as a whole.
"A coalition that seems to pay lip-service to the north and an opposition that seemingly delights in decline but as yet appears to have no ideas of its own. It is still tough out there but for every Seven Seas we have seen an Allam Marine, Kohler Mira or Needlers.
"For every Kimberly Clark there has been a Premier Interlink, an Arco or a Steelridge – our own business stars of the London Olympic success.
"And for every McCain's or Comet there has been a Spencer, a Green Port Hull, the Humber Gateway and the For Entrepreneurs Only group."
It is more than three years since the Government began heralding the start of the "green shoots of recovery".
Such shoots may have started popping through the economic gloom but there is a way to go before they are ready for harvest.
From small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-up ventures to large businesses employing hundreds of staff, organisations of all shapes and sizes were celebrated for their achievements at last night's ceremony, which kicked off with a champagne reception, sponsored by The Insurance Partnership.
Guests then took to their tables before hearing from guest speaker Allan Leighton.
Mr Leighton's career has seen him in high profile roles including chief executive of Asda, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Europe and Royal Mail's longest serving company chairman.
His varied business career includes being recently made chairman of Matalan. He also has an Honorary Degree from Cranfield University and an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Lancashire, as well as being a Patron of Breast Cancer Care, for whom he has pledged to raise £1m.
MORE ON THE BUSINESS AWARDS 2012
After hearing from Mr Leighton, the host of the event, journalist Helen Fospero, took to the stage for the start of the awards ceremony.
There were 12 awards up for grabs, including Training and Development, which was won by SGS The Maltings, and Exporter of the Year, which went to Arronbrook Leisure Homes.
The Community Involvement Award was handed to The Meredith Group, while KC was victorious in the Innovation and Technology category.
GWE Biogas Ltd won the Green Award and H&H was named Business of the Year (Small).
The Business of the Year (Medium) Award was presented to Airco while The John Good Group was announced the winner of the Business of the Year (Large) category.
Alastair Brooks, of Hull Studio School, was victorious in the Employee of the Year category and Katie Taylor, of Drewton's, was named Entrepreneur of the Year.
The Start Up Business of the Year Award was won by Redeem Clinic, while Richard Quelch of Eskimo Soup was named Young Achiever of The Year.
Magicians added to the sense of magic in the air while the award ceremony was complemented with special videos, sponsored by Classlane Media.
Hull-based paper specialist GF Smith – itself a finalist in the award categories – had sponsored the menus and programmes.
To round off the evening, a new award – Lifetime Contribution – was presented.
This special award was handed to Jim Dick, former president of Smith & Nephew's global Advanced Wound Management division, current chair of Hull Bondholders, founder of KCFM Smile Foundation and co-founder and trustee of Cat Zero, to name just a few of his many achievements.
Mr Dick – who pointed out he had moved to Hull more than 30 years ago with the plan to "stay for three years" – thanked those who had given him the opportunity to develop, both in his career and outside of it.
He also urged others to "get involved" with their community, pointing out it not only led to personal development but that it was also "a lot of fun".
Turning his attention to all of the award winners and finalists, Mr Hodgkinson said this year's awards had received more than 120 entries.
He said: "Everybody here tonight should be very proud of their achievements, of their ability to adapt and inspire others, to help educate our youngsters and give them the skills for a brighter future, and sometimes just to keep going when things get tough.
"More than 120 companies and individuals entered these awards. All of them had great stories to tell.
"Those of you here tonight are the best-sellers.
"Many of our businesses have shown a truly resilient character with a determination and will to succeed and survive in a difficult economic environment."