High Sheriff of Cheshire Enterprise Awards - winners announced

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More than 400 guests gathered at Chester Racecourse to celebrate the High Sheriff of Cheshire Enterprise Awards, hosted by the High Sheriff of Cheshire, Bill Holroyd, and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester, Professor Tim Wheeler, with guest speaker John Roberts from AO World plc.

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Farrat Isolevel Ltd scooped the overall prize High Sheriff's Award for Enterprise 2015/16, sponsored by Cheshire and Warrington LEP, O2 and ESL Fuels. Judges were looking for an organisation that had achieved outstanding commercial success and sustainable growth for this prestigious award. 

Farrat Isolevel specialises in vibration control, thermal isolation and precision levelling solutions and is based in Altrincham. Oliver Farrell, Chief Executive Officer at Farrat Isolevel said: "This Award is a great result for Farrat and wonderful recognition for our achievements so far. As an ambitious company, we will make the most of the MBA bursary to develop Farrat further and become ambassadors for Cheshire." Farrat Isolevel Ltd wins a place on the University of Chester's MBA programme, for an appropriately qualified member of staff, worth £10,000.

The Mornflake Oats Award for Innovation was won by Microsystems UK Ltd.  Microsystems, which is based in Warrington, is a company that designs, manufactures and validates ultra precision systems for the manufacture of medical devices.

Melanie Robinson, Co-Founder of Microsystems, said: "We are absolutely delighted to receive this Award, as it's great that our commitment to innovation has been recognised. It's a fantastic reward for the team here at Microsystems for all their efforts and I'm sure it will motivate everyone here to develop our processes to an even higher level."

Microsystems UK will receive £3,000 in prize money.

The High Sheriff's Award for Responsible Business Practice, sponsored by Timpson, was deservedly won by Sharples, a printing company based in Warrington. The judging panel was looking for organisations that demonstrate a high standard of commitment in the way in which they organise and integrate their responsible business practices. A delighted Mark Brocklehurst, Director of Sharples, said: "We take great pride in our responsible business practice. We can talk about it and get excited about it but how does this translate to our customers? This Award speaks volumes for us. It proves that we are in fact doing what we say, putting principle before profit." Sharples will receive £3,000 in prize money.

The Roberts Bakery Family Award of Excellence Award went to Land of Beds, a third generation bed retailer based in Helsby. Judges were looking for leaders of outstanding entrepreneurial families and the achievements of specific family businesses in Cheshire, Warrington and Halton. Mike Murray, Managing Director, Land of Beds, commented: "I am immensely proud and honoured to have received such a prestigious Award - I would like to dedicate this win to all our staff who have helped make this great business what it is today!"  Land of Beds will receive £3,000 in prize money.

The new Award for Training, Development and Opportunity for Young People was won by Malpas-based Barlows UK Ltd. The judges were looking for businesses who invest in the development of the skills of young people through the provision of training, apprenticeships and work experience. David Barlow, Training Director of Barlows, said: "Barlows team are honoured and proud to receive the Award. They would like to thank the judges and everyone involved in the Awards Evening – it was a spectacular event." Barlows will receive £3,000 in prize money.

The Cheshire Business Exporter of the Year, sponsored by West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce and Oliver Valves, went to Crawford Healthcare, based in Knutsford. Richard Anderson, CEO, was delighted and is looking forward to expanding the business: "We were delighted to even be nominated in this prestigious category. Taking Cheshire manufactured products to a global market continues to be a key driver for the Crawford business, so to win this Award gives me a great sense of pride and satisfaction.

"Over the past three years, Crawford Healthcare has enjoyed a fantastic growth trajectory, which, in turn has enabled us to expand beyond the UK. We've established best in class teams in the US and Germany - the world and Europe's largest wound care markets respectively – which are beginning to replicate the unrivalled success we're experiencing in the UK. Wound care is becoming a major concern for global healthcare practitioners and we expect our export sales to expand further as our market-leading technology spreads to new geographies." Crawford Healthcare will receive a bespoke 12 month package of support, to expand into a new overseas market.

The Cheshire Business Leaders Award for the Cheshire and Warrington Entrepreneur of the Year had joint winners: Victoria Molyneux from Stockport-based online fashion retailer, Want That Trend, and Janice Atley from Chateau de Sable, a French children's designer clothes boutique in Chester city centre. Judges were looking for growth in turnover and/or profits, developing new markets and long term potential and were equally impressed with both winners. Victoria Molyneux said: "Want That Trend started because I could never afford high-end clothing. I thought if I'm like that, how many other women in the world are in the same situation as me. Most of the clothing industry is run by men, so I tried to design clothing that flatters and hides a ‘mummy tummy' and all of the other things that women are insecure about, and here we are today. To win this Award means so much to me and I'm so proud of how far the business has grown in such a short time."

Janice Atley said: "I am extremely humbled and thrilled that Chateau de Sable has been recognised by Cheshire Business Leaders in the prestigious High Sheriff's Awards. Such an Award will continue to raise Chateau de Sable's profile within Cheshire and recognises the work of our very small but highly talented team!"

There was also a double triumph in the Outstanding Cheshire and Warrington Business Leader Award. The judges were looking for an outstanding business leader, who has shown exceptional vision and leadership at the helm of a successful and growing business, which has also contributed to the development and reputation of the whole sub-region. They couldn't decide between two worthy winners – Dominic Clark from Tyres on the Drive, an online company from Holmes Chapel, and Jonathan Fell from Tattenhall's The Ice Cream Farm.

Dominic said: "For the first two quarters of last year, I have invested heavily in finding a strong leadership team to drive the business forward, successfully pulling off triple digit growth by the end of 2015. With some of the brightest minds in the North West, I firmly believe that together, TyresOnTheDrive.com will disrupt our industry and increase our market share."      

Jonathan said: "I was highly honoured to be recognised in the Awards alongside so many other great businesses. I am very much looking forward to working with Cheshire Business Leaders in the future." Winners of the Cheshire Business Leaders Awards will receive £500 worth of prize money and business support from Cheshire Business Leaders.

This year, the High Sheriff's Awards Organising Committee was approached by a number of leading business figures to make a special award to somebody who has made a remarkable difference to the development of business, training, apprenticeships and the furtherance of engineering and science in our community. The Outstanding Contribution to the Economy of Cheshire and the Business Community was awarded to Simon Bowen, one of the leading business figures of the UK, who has recently moved on as Managing Director of Urenco, based in Capenhurst, to take up his new post as Managing Director of Cavendish Nuclear. The Awards were delighted to thank him for his contribution to the Cheshire economy and wish him well for the future.

A special ‘Best of the Best' Award was introduced as a one-off this year to celebrate 10 years of the High Sheriff's Awards for Enterprise. Previous winners of the overall High Sheriff's Award for Enterprise were invited to share their thoughts on their business ‘Looking Back, Looking Forward' and the judges were overwhelmed by the submissions and what an incredible range of businesses there are in Cheshire. The special prize of £10,000, donated by the High Sheriff Bill Holroyd, is for the winner to donate to a charity of their choice. The £10,000 prize was awarded to Chester Zoo.

Dr Mark Pilgrim, Director General of Chester Zoo, said: "As a conservation and education charity, we're delighted to receive this recognition for outstanding business achievement. Last year saw our visitor numbers reach more than 1.6m, a rise of 18%, in large part due to our ground-breaking new Islands zone – a landmark development in zoo history. Every visitor through our gates helps us deliver conservation projects to save species from extinction, both here in the UK and around the world, so it is crucial that we continue to run a successful zoo. This £10,000 prize from the High Sheriff's Awards will be invested in the vitally important work we do with young people, both through training and education programmes."

Christine Gaskell, Chair of Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: "The LEP was delighted to support the High Sheriff Awards, and sponsor the Award for Enterprise, which is a fantastic showcase of the strengths and commitment to excellence of Cheshire businesses."

Robert Ellis, Principal Accountant at Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, said: "I am delighted to be associated with the High Sheriff's Awards, both in the capacity of a sponsor and judge.

"It is always a joy to encounter fresh talent through the High Sheriff's Awards, as well as recognising the invaluable achievements of established businesses in boosting the local economy and supporting the community."

Professor Phil Harris, the Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Awards, said: "Our region is making some great business and developing some great people for the future. The finalists reflect the best businesses and organisations in Cheshire, Halton and Warrington, with wonderful human stories of true grit and determination. These Awards have great sponsors, all of which added to a superb Awards night."

Bill Holroyd, the High Sheriff of Cheshire, said "It has been a great pleasure to be involved in these Awards, which continue to go from strength to strength, with more entries than ever this year from right across the county. This made both shortlisting and judging even more difficult, but that is a great problem to have!"

The High Sheriff also paid tribute to the generosity of the Cheshire Business community, who on the night raised £2,906.20 for Onside Youth Zones. "This was a great shot in the arm for our ambitious and fast-growing charity, based here in the North West. It is our aim that every child in the country will have somewhere safe and inspiring to go in their leisure time."