THREE entrepreneurs from Huddersfield won half the prizes in a competition to recognise the achievements of business people from the region’s African and Caribbean communities.
Barrington Douglas, Lindel Flowers and Marcia Hutchinson were among six outstanding entrepreneurs to be presented with awards at Leeds United’s Elland Road stadium.
The Yorkshire Black Convention awards are staged by business support organisation Business Link Yorkshire and development agency Yorkshire Forward.
Barrington was named Male Entrepreneur of the Year for his success in running Discovery Bay restaurant on Wood Street in Huddersfield town centre.
He realised the dream of having his own restaurant after 20 years of careful planning and saving.
He said: “I started off as a bad lad in my teens, getting into trouble. I didn’t have any clear direction. My dad sat me down one day and explained to me that it was time to knuckle down and focus on something positive.”
Barrington took his advice and qualified as a joiner and worked in the timber trade before his boss put him out in the field as a salesman. He eventually worked his way up to become a director.
But he said: “I knew back when I was 19 that I had a dream, but I didn’t set unrealistic goals of telling friends and family that I wanted to own a restaurant within a couple of years.
“I set a clear timeframe of 20 years which worked well for me and in my late thirties, with my life savings, I set up Discovery Bay.
“When I was a youngster my mother was a big inspiration to me and to keep me occupied she showed me the way to cook Caribbean food.”
Discovery Bay is a traditional Caribbean restaurant.
It also operates an outside catering service for corporate and community events, weddings, funerals, christenings and birthday parties.
Barrington also works with young offenders’ institutions, where some of the teenagers are looking to move in to their own accommodation.
He said: “The problem is that some of these boys don’t even know how to boil a pot of rice or cook some chicken.
“The local authorities send them to me once a week for a couple of hours and I train them how to cook and prepare a basic meal to improve their knowledge and skills.
“One young Jamaican man is now studying food in college and I have given him a part-time job because he had such a natural talent in the kitchen.”
Lindel Flowers – known to friends as Johnny – was named business personality of the year in the YBEC for his success running Ashbrow Garage.
Johnny arrived in England from Jamaica in 1961. Since then he has worked voluntarily to improve the welfare of the Caribbean community in Yorkshire while making an impact in his field as a mechanic.
His company, based at Bradford Road, Fartown, was founded in 1976 and has grown and developed steadily ever since.
Marcia Hutchinson, of publishing firm Primary Colours, was named female entrepreneur of the year.
She set up Fartown-based Primary Colours in 1997 as a publishing and learning company specialising in cultural diversity.
Today it is one of the leading providers of culturally-inclusive books and teaching material used to promote cultural diversity in the school curriculum.
As well as its many publications Primary Colours provides theatre-in-education performances and training.
The business is supported by Arts Council England.
Primary Colours was founded more than 10 years ago when Marcia discovered that is was extremely difficult to find culturally diverse books for her own children.
After talking to other parents she decided there was a need for “realistic” books reflecting the experiences and aspirations of black children living in Britain.
After 10 years in corporate law she resigned to pursue her vision with Primary Colours.