LEADING figures from Huddersfield’s business community celebrated success at the Galpharm Stadium last night.
More than 300 people attended a glittering black-tie dinner and presentation ceremony at the fourth annual Examiner Business Awards.
The landmark event, sponsored by law firm Chadwick Lawrence, was held to honour some of the town’s foremost companies and individuals.
Awards were presented in 11 categories, including ones for the New Business of the Year, the Employer of the Year, the International Business of the Year and the Business of the Year.
There were also accolades for companies excelling in the fields of creativity, regeneration, environmental performance and community activities.
Sectors represented included manufacturing, construction, training, food processing and the creative arts.
Audience members cheered the winners as they were invited on stage to receive their trophies and certificates.
The most prestigious prize – for Business Person of the Year – was presented to Bob Cryan, vice-chancellor of Huddersfield University, in recognition of his commitment to building stronger links with local businesses and the contribution being made by the university to the prosperity of the town.
The trophy was presented by Jeremy Garside, managing partner of law firm Chadwick Lawrence, which sponsored the category and the Examiner Business Awards.
When asked by the evening’s host BBC Look North presenter Harry Gration to name his greatest achievement, Prof Cryan joked: "Getting my cycling proficiency certificate."
He said the Business Award meant a lot to him.
"My main aim is to make the university an integral part of the community. We are not just about educating students, we are here to help business.
"We have very specialised equipment and world-class staff and we are training our students to be able to start new businesses."
The Regeneration Award went to the developers and backers of the Folly Hall Mills scheme, which has revitalised a long derelict former textile mill to provide much-needed high-quality office space close to the town centre – and attract high-calibre businesses to take up space.
Other major category winners included Oakes-based Newsholme Food Group, which was named Business of the Year; valve manufacturer Severn Unival, which scooped the prize for International Business of the Year; and Equi-Trek, a Meltham-based firm making state-of-the-art horse trailers, which was named SME of the Year.
Harriet Steele, who has set up a highly successful millinery, make-up and hairstyle business aimed at brides-to-be, was a tearful winner of the category for New Business of the Year, while Barkisland-based Wright Angle Marketing was named Employer of the Year.
Sky News presenter Nina de Roy was the guest speaker – in place of Declan Curry who had to withdraw due to illness.
Nina, who presents on business issues for Sky News and Fox Business News as well as presenting news bulletins for radio stations like Capital FM and Classic FM travelled from London to speak at last night’s awards at less than an hour’s notice.
The presenter, who interviewed many of the figures at the centre of the recent banking crisis, said: "The credit crunch has added extra strain to businesses including manufacturing firms for which Huddersfield is famous.
"And it couldn’t have come at a worse time as firms were already having to contend with competition from the Far East, changes in environmental laws and employment laws."
Guests at the awards night included the Mayor of Kirklees, Clr Julie Stewart-Turner and her consort Darrell Turner, the award judges and category sponsors as well as leading figures from the local business community.