The winners of the first ever Lisburn & Castlereagh City Business Awards have been announced at a glittering gala awards ceremony.
The awards, in association with Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council & Hanna Thompson Chartered Accountants, were presented at the City’s four star hotel, the La Mon Hotel & Country Club on Friday 11th March.
There were 16 diverse categories, demonstrating business excellence in areas such as customer service, marketing, innovation and export.
First Minister Arlene Foster, who addressed the 300-strong audience at the event, said: “I welcome this opportunity to celebrate the success of Lisburn and Castlereagh based businesses.
“The business community of Lisburn & Castlereagh deserves recognition for its hard work and commitment to business excellence in Northern Ireland. The important contribution that local businesses make to the Northern Ireland economy cannot be under estimated.
“Local companies including AB Pneumatics, Raltus Software and Smiley Monroe are driving growth and success through a commitment to exports, innovation and market development.
“I congratulate all tonight’s nominees and winners who are all part of Northern Ireland’s good news story.”
Alderman Allan Ewart, Chairman of the Council’s Development Committee, said: “What an amazing first year as the new Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, and no better way to end such a year than to celebrate with the best of our local companies.
“I am truly delighted at the success of these awards and with over 100 entries across the 16 categories, far exceeding our expectations, this is testament to the City’s business sector.
“On behalf of the Council I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate each of our finalists, and of course this year’s worthy winners.
“Every year it is clear to see that new standards of business excellence and innovation are being achieved, and this event is the perfect platform to give much deserved recognition.
“I was particularly pleased to see the high number of new start-up businesses enter the new business category this year, which I will take as a sign that the new council area is offering a great environment and location for a new business to flourish.
“Now is the time to invest in Lisburn & Castlereagh City, Northern Ireland’s best connected, business friendly City, with an entrepreneurial and outward looking Council.
Amongst those honoured were Business Person of the Year, Paula Jennings of Stepping Stones NI, who also took the Best Social Enterprise Business award, and Trailblazer BBQ Ltd, who received the Best New Business accolade.
Paula Jennings, Chief Officer at Stepping Stones NI, an organisation that provides a range of services that support people with learning difficulties and learning difficulties, said: “It is absolutely amazing, these awards mean a lot to us because Stepping Stones has changed so many people’s lives in the community.
“I am very proud to be part of something so good.”
Prof Lester Manley, Founder and MD of Trailblazer BBQ Ltd, the world’s first fully functional, towable BBQs, said: “We are blown away and feel incredibly lucky to have won this award after a couple of years of hard work. Our strapline at the moment is ‘now you can’ and now we have!”
The sold out black-tie ceremony, which was hosted by Q Radio favourite Stephen Clements, also featured a sensational after dinner performance by Strictly Come Dancing professional dance duo James and Ola Jordan.
See pages 24 and 25.