The winners of the in-Cumbria Business Awards 2018 have been revealed.

At a glittering awards ceremony hosted by TV and radio broadcaster Jeremy Vine at the Halston in Carlisle, the cream of the county’s business world were celebrated.

The in-Cumbria Business Awards, in association with Sellafield Limited, saw around 250 business leaders gather to pick up the top honours after hundreds of Cumbrian firms entered across 15 categories.

One of the most prestigious honours of the night, Businessperson of the Year, went to Barry Leahey MBE, of Playdale Playgrounds, based in Haverthwaite.

The company designs, manufactures and installs playgrounds across the world.

Mr Leahey said: “I am actually speechless about it. I genuinely didn’t believe I was going to win it and I am over the moon that I have.

“This time last week I was taking part in a charity boxing event and you could say that I knocked that guy out and tonight – but tonight I feel like I have been knocked out. It’s rewarding to be recognised.

“I am lucky enough to facilitate a great team of people. Some people call that leadership, but I call it facilitation. It’s getting the best out of the people that are there. I have got a really good team around me and they’ve all bought into it.”

Another headline award, the prestigious Lifetime Contribution to Cumbria award was presented to Maria Whitehead MBE and Mark Whitehead MBE, of Hawkshead Relish.

The owners and founders of the artisan producer of award-winning preserves based in the historic village of Hawkshead in the heart of the Lake District, also admitted to being left speechless after receiving the accolade.

Mrs Whitehead said: “I think it’s phenomenal, in this room full of such a lot of experience to have been recognised for what we do is very humbling. We are a family business through-and-through and everyone who works for us is part of our family and we all work together as a team. It’s everybody altogether and that’s key.

Mr Whitehead added: “Everybody has ideas and we try and put them into action if we can. Whether it’s introducing a new recipe or some way we can streamline the process. Everybody is as important as everybody else and that’s the way we’ve always worked.”

Another big winner on the night was Technical Fibre Products, part of the James Cropper group of companies based in Burneside.

The company develops and manufactures high performance nonwoven materials for the aerospace, medical, infrastructure, automotive and defence sectors, with a growing market share in the energy and fuel cells.

It picked up both the Best Manufacturing and Best Innovation awards.

Elsewhere, Cockermouth-based PR agency One Little Bird was named best SME while Embleton’s Caterite Food and Wineservice scooped the award for Best Large Business.

Law firm Cartmell Shepherd picked up the Best Professional Services award and Cumbria Health on Call was crowned Best Social Enterprise.

Carlisle e-commerce business CHO Fashion & Lifestyle won the Best Marketing award for its campaigns across multiple channels and Carlisle College accounting apprentice Rebecca Mooney, who is based at Carlisle Refrigeration, won the Best Apprentice/Trainee accolade.

Ulverston LED manufacturer Oxley Group, which supplies its products across the world, was named Best Exporter and the Rothay Garden Hotel, near Grasmere, received the Best Tourism and Hospitality award.

Multi-disciplinary firm Kaefer Ltd, with a base in West Cumbria, picked up the prize for Best Community Involvement in recognition of its work linked to social impact.

The Best Family Business award went to property rental firm GM & SM Marrs, of Wigton, while Walby Farm Park, near Carlisle, picked up the Best Customer Service Excellence award.

The Best New Business title went to Luxury Living Development at Scalesceugh Hall, owned by Bruno and Dr Anita Herdeiro.

Luke Dicicco, group business editor for Newsquest Cumbria and editor of in-Cumbria, said: “The in-Cumbria Business Awards are a true celebration of the county’s business prowess and based on the extremely high quality of this year’s winners, we have a huge amount to shout about.

“It was fantastic to see all sectors and all four corners of the county recognised this year with businesses raising the bar to extremely high levels. There really was very little in it across all the categories, and all finalists can be rightly proud of their achievements because deciding the winners was tough.

“I’d like to pay specific tribute to Barry for winning what had to be one of the most coveted prizes on the night.

"It is a true recognition of someone who has taken their business to new heights.

“And I’d also like to congratulate Maria and Mark for receiving the honour of Lifetime Contribution to Cumbria.

"They have created a thriving business and helped to put Cumbria firmly on the map.

“My thanks also go out to all our sponsors – particularly our event partner Sellafield Limited – and the expert judges who decided the winners this year.

"It has been a real team Cumbria effort and shows just what we can achieve when we come together.

“While I’m sure the celebrations will continue for some time to come yet, the pressure is already on for the awards in 2019.”

Winners and finalists

Best Exporter , sponsored by HSBC: Oxley Group

Highly commended: Trade Copiers

Best Community Involvement , sponsored by Genesis Homes: Kaefer Ltd

Finalists: Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster

Sealy UK

Best Innovation , sponsored by BAE Systems: Technical Fibre Products

Finalists: Bender UK

Rovtech Solutions

Best Tourism and Hospitality , sponsored by Direct Rail Services: Rothay Garden Hotel

Finalists: Tullie House

Sally’s Cottages

Best New Business , sponsored by FW Capital: Luxury Living Development Finalists: Caterprep

i3 Decommissioning Partners

Best Manufacturing Business , sponsored by Associated British Ports: Technical Fibre Products Finalist: Futamura Chemicals

Best Customer Service Excellence , sponsored by Reiver Homes: Walby Farm Park

Finalists: Cumberland Building Society

Direct Rail Services

Business Person of the Year , sponsored by Choose Cumbria: Barry Leahey MBE Finalists: Nick Gutteridge

Debbie Francis

Best Social Enterprise , sponsored by University of Cumbria: Cumbria Health on Call

Finalists: The Centre for Leadership Performance

The Happy Mums Foundation

Best Apprentice/Trainee , sponsored by Bendalls Engineering: Rebecca Mooney Finalists: Thomas Armstrong

Abigail Graham

Best Professional Services Company , sponsored by Cumberland Building Society: Cartmell Shepherd

Finalists: Prima Uno

Armstrong Watson

Best Marketing Strategy , sponsored by Carlisle Brass: CHO Fashion and Lifestyle

Finalists: H&H Insurance Brokers

Cumberland Building Society

Best SME Business , sponsored by Enterprise Answers: One Little Bird Public Relations

Finalists: Prima Uno

Bender UK

Best Large Business , sponsored by Lamont Pridmore: Caterite Food and Wine Service

Finalists: Cumberland Building Society

TSP Engineering

Best Family Business , sponsored by Armstrong Watson: GM & SM Marrs

Finalists: K&S McKenzie

J Edgar & Sons

Lifetime Contribution to Cumbria: Maria and Mark Whitehead, of Hawskhead Relish