Judges deliver verdict on in-cumbria Business Awards finalists

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 7:26PM

The judging is over and the winners have been decided for the inaugural in-cumbria Business Awards.

But the suspense will continue for a little longer until the results are announced at a glittering celebration of Cumbria’s business prowess next month.

Hundreds of companies and individuals from around the County threw their hat in the ring to enter the awards, which will take place at The Halston Aparthotel in Carlisle on Thursday, November 9.

If the job of whittling the entries down to three finalists in each of the 15 categories was not hard enough, this year and for the first time the judging process hit the road.

CN Group – which owns the in-cumbria Business Awards and brand – enlisted the support of 15 expert judges from a wide variety of industries to help pick the winners during a busy period across August and September.

Alongside category sponsors, they visited each finalist in their category to learn more about them, judge them against a challenge set of criteria, and also pass on expertise and advice.

Marie Whitehead, Events Director at CN Group, said: “We’ve had fantastic feedback from the judges and, importantly, the businesses about the judging process. It was a great chance for them to get under the skin of each entrant and to learn more than they could through an entry form.”

Judges hailed from all four corners of Cumbria, representing industries from robotics, manufacturing and engineering, to food and drink, professional services, tourism and finance.

Mark Telford, a former Businessperson of the year and owner of Flimby-based Forth Engineering, judged the keenly contested ‘Best new business’ category.

“It was a really enjoyable day and a real eye opener to see the different types of companies and what they do. I’ve always fancied being a Business Angel, so it was a great experience for me.

“It was interesting to find the companies, regardless of what size they are or what industry they are in, face the same challenges. What I was looking for was enthusiasm, passion and, as strange as it sounds, the drive to run a business. For me that is about taking risk and showing ambition.”

Maria Whitehead of Hawkshead Relish, headquartered in the Lake District village of Hawksehad, is no stranger to awards, and will be competing for two major national honours in the next month. She said being judge of the ‘Best Exporter’ category was a “really valuable” experience.

“There is only so much you can glean from an entry form,” she said.

“But I got a real feel for the companies sitting down face-to-face and talking with them. You fully appreciate the ethos of the company and get a feel for their passion

“You don’t get to fully appreciate the ethos of a company and get a feel for their passion until you sit down and talk. It was a really good experience and something which I am going to take on board when putting together award entries for our business in future.”

Simon Harrison, who owns property development business Harrison Northern Limited and half of The Haltson Aparthotel, said he found judging the ‘Best Businessperson’ category a “fascinating” experience.

He said: “I got a real insight in to their companies and the passion behind them – and also came away with some really useful advice and tips.

“I also got to reflect on the sheer impact these business have, in terms of the operations, jobs and so on, which was particularly interesting for a small business owner such as myself.

“It made me think that, yes, Cumbria is a way of life, but that it has got industry at its heart. We really do have everything here when it comes to both of these.”

This year’s awards will be presented by the BBC’s media editor Amol Rajan, a former editor of The Independent.

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