Oldham Business Awards 2017

Reporter: Robbie MacDonald
Date published: 17 May 2017

THE 2017 Oldham Business Awards were perhaps the biggest and busiest yet, with 550 guests attending the dinner and ceremony at Queen Elizabeth Hall on Friday night.

This was the ninth annual awards night and included the new addition of after-party dance hosted by DJs Clint Boon and Elliot Eastwick from radio station Revolution 96.2.

Comedian Romesh Ranganathan was delayed after car problems, but raised plenty of laughs with his act based around being a dad and family duties.

The awards night began with music from Oldham Music Centre Youth wind band, conducted by Tracey Hartnell-Booth.

Young musicians from the centre benefited from a £1,000 donation from Oldham Business Awards towards the costs of a music tour in Italy this summer.

Gerard Booth, head of music, said: "More than 100 children from Oldham are going to Italy and we are really grateful for this donation from the awards.

"We are delighted to be performing at a prestigious, high-profile event like this, which has been further enhanced with this generous donation towards the costs of our tour."

Mahdlo Youth Zone youngsters presented a music-and-drama performance influenced by music and drumming from different countries. Mahdlo benefits from donations raised by the awards alongside Dr Kershaw's Hospice.

Vernon Cressey, hospice chairman, was among the guests and said: "We really appreciate the support we receive from the business community and the wider community in Oldham. Without it, we could not provide the services we do across the borough It's great to see the business awards growing year-by-year and we are delighted to be here tonight."

His wife Carole Cressey, a retired Werneth Primary School head teacher, added: "I'm really impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of young people here tonight, from the musicians and Mahdlo members to the young business people. It's excellent and the cultural mix is impressive too."

Among the shortlisted finalists was Mumtaz Khan, of Kesan Foods in Greenacres. He was with his wife Arshad Mackmood and daughters Haleema and Amna.

Mr Khan, shortlisted in the Business Person category, said: "Tonight is great. I first came here two years ago and wondered how I could get recognition for my business. This is a great platform for young businesses.

"Entering the awards requires a lot of work at the start but the benefit of taking part is really good. The judges are really helpful and you get good support, whether you win a final award or not. The awards process makes you better at promoting and understanding your own business, and telling your story to other people. I'd recommend it to others."

Keith Kennedy, corporate and commercial partner at award sponsor Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers, said: "Every business nominated for an award should be proud of their achievements. Finalists and winners alike get great publicity from the event and it's hugely encouraging to see how some fledgling businesses have grown and developed over the years. Similarly, the larger more-established businesses on our doorstep deserve recognition.

"The quality and range of entrants this year prove that Oldham has a thriving business community. We continue to work closely with entrepreneurs, family-owned businesses, SMEs and national companies with a local base, and it remains a pleasure to sponsor the Oldham Business Awards."

Vicki Hindle, of Ryder & Dutton, said: "This is all about showcasing what's going on in Oldham. It's so good to see all the people and businesses tonight. I'm so proud - there are hundreds and hundreds of people here."

Stephen Rector is managing director at Ribble Packaging, which was a sponsor and finalist. He said: "We employ a lot people and attending the awards gives the staff something back. We have lots of staff who do great work but perhaps go unrecognised? So this helps to recognise their contribution and raise awareness of Ribble across Oldham.

"There is a great audience here tonight, with people from many professions. As finalists, we also met the Mayor at a VIP reception, and he was a delight. It's a thoroughly enjoyable evening."

Hayley Smith, of Simply Skin in Oldham town centre was a finalist in the Start-up Award category. She said: "I'm really pleased at being finalist. These awards celebrate all kinds of businesses and all kinds of people behind them. I don't have many GCSEs or A-levels but I'm really proud of having set-up my own business from scratch.

"I've done it through motivation and determination. My mum, Sally Gallagher, sadly passed away in recent years, aged 48. I wanted to do something good with my life after the bad experience of losing my mum. This has helped me cope with losing her."

Hayley was with friends Jonathan Hawkins and Jennifer Walker.

Last year Geoff Clarke, managing director of Tunnel Engineering Services (UK) picked up two business awards however this year the firm was a sponsor.

Mr Clarke said: "It's great to support the awards, meet other businesses and raise awareness of what Oldham companies can achieve. Since last year's awards, we've being very busy with a range of tunnel machinery contracts. These have included equipment for the London Underground Northern Line extension, power supply tunnels at Battersea Power Station redevelopment, which is a huge project; and work on tidal flooding controls for the River Thames. It's all fascinating work."

The headline sponsors were Nat West, Innovative Technology, Web Applications, the Stoller Charitable Trust and Oldham Council.

Martyn Torr, former Oldham Chronicle business editor, was MC for the night while Dave Meredith , director of commercial banking at Nat West, gave a vote of thanks.