With its feet firmly planted in Cumbrian soil, Pioneer Food Services has credited its business success to the quality of the county's produce and its loyal staff.

Graham Jenkins, managing director of the Carlisle family firm, is still reeling after picking up two prestigious honours at a glittering awards ceremony.

His company emerged as the big winner at the Cumbria Family Business Awards 2018 scooping the Retail and Wholesale Award and top prize of Outstanding Cumbria Family Business 2018.

But for Graham, who attended the awards ceremony at The Garden at Eden near Carlisle with his brother David who is Pioneer sales director, there is little doubt why the company is so successful.

He said: "It is all down to our staff who we call Pioneer People.

"They work very hard and this reflects in the service levels provided by our company. We have very high standards and this shows.

"They are all very loyal and we like to see them as part of our family."

The quality of local produce is also vital to the success of Pioneer according to Graham who prides himself on buying from Cumbria farms and auction marts.

"Last year we bought 2500 local lambs, 1100 cattle and 350 tonnes of pork – we do make a lot of sausage as everyone knows," he added.

In addition Pioneer last year bought 540,000 litres of locally-sourced fresh milk and 34 tonnes of cheese from such outlets as Appleby Creamery Thornby Moor Dairy near Thursby and Cows & Co, based in Dumfries and Galloway.

Graham said as Cumbrian company Pioneer was keen to differentiate itself from national suppliers and supermarkets.

He is in no doubt about the secret of the company's success.

He said: "We are passionate about buying local and passionate about our staff. We have a good, stable workforce and we pride ourselves on promoting from within. That's what it is all about."

Pioneer Food Service was one of 16 businesses to pick up honours at the event which attracted companies from all over Cumbria.

More than 300 people gathered for the ceremony hosted by Hairy Biker, Si King, who stepped in at the eleventh hour after sidekick Dave Myers pulled out due to illness.

Businesses competed in 15 categories, including Going Places and Ones to Watch in Future, while almost 5,000 members of the public voted for Employee of the Year, which was won by Lynn Logan of Heart of the Lakes.

Janett Walker, co-founder of the Cumbria Family Business Awards, said she was “overwhelmed” by the positive feedback from the ceremony

“Cumbria owes so much to the family businesses who make this county such a vibrant place to live and work,” she said.

“We were proud to see Cumbria shine so bright and are even more delighted that all the winners will also automatically be represented at the national awards finals in London later this year, flying the flag for Cumbria even further.”