It was a night of tears and smiles as the annual Wigan Business Awards saluted stars old a new.
A packed gala dinner at the DW Stadium saw nine different firms win the nine prizes up for grabs, with some claiming victory on their debut and others building on previous successes.
The overall Business of the Year was named as Rothwell Plumbing of Goose Green - a company which has blossomed into a major borough employer over the last two decades to the point that it now has 200 staff on its books.
But the presentation of the trophy was tinged with sadness as MD Graham Rothwell revealed that his father Bill, who first set the company rolling as a sole trader 25 years ago, only died in June this year and would have been so proud to have picked up the award.
Meanwhile Walmsleys Commercial Insurance Brokers became one of the oldest Wigan firms to pick up a local business award. The firm, founded in 1926 picked up the gong for best small or medium-sized enterprise.
The We’re Backing Wigan Award, which goes to enterprises which particularly grab positive headlines was a close fought affair with community project Fur Clemt emerging victorious. The Norley Hall-based organisation takes food nearing its expiration date and uses it to make healthy meals in its cafe, all on a pay as you feel basis.
Truline Construction of Martland Park took the laurels in the category which praises firms for their apprentice schemes. And the expert panel of judges picked Yellowjigsaw, a new PR agency for charities, social enterprises and values-driven businesses as Start-up of the Year.
Pemberton-based ATG UV Technology’s pioneering ultra-violet treatment of water won it the Environmental Commitment Award.
It was a Lowton company that specialises in hot stamping foils - Foilco - which claimed the Family Business of the Year title. The MD is David Hornby, ably assisted by his sons Matt and Paul.
Vehicle rental firm Fleet Dynamic of Hawkley Brook was back among the awards this year withe the Something to Shout About trophy held aloft. And it was a manufacturer and supplier of insulated glass components - Thermoseal, again of Martland Park - which was named Exporter of the Year. The firm has business with no fewer than 22 countries worldwide.
The evening was hosted by BBC Radio presenter Andy Crane.
George Langford, Wigan Regional Membership Manager at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “Each year the Chamber’s Wigan Business Awards bring together the businesses in the borough who are going the extra mile, excelling in their field or finding new, innovative ways to achieve their goals.
“We are proud of these awards and proud to showcase so many diverse and exciting businesses who deserve to celebrate and be rewarded for the work they’re doing.
“As with every year, the judging panel had many tough decisions to make when it came to picking a winner in each category, and we’d like to thank every single business who put themselves forward for one of our Wigan Business Awards.
“We’d especially like to congratulate the winners and wish all Wigan businesses continued success and prosperity for the future.”
Chris Fletcher, Marketing and Policy Director at the Chamber, spoke about some of the changes and challengest businesses are and will be facing post-Brexit.
He said: “The result of the EU referendum in June was a pivotal point for the UK. Following this we had a change in government which is now governing in completely different circumstances to 12 months ago and tackling some of the biggest changes this country has ever faced.
“In addition, the new government cannot just look overseas; it must also pick up on the work already begun on the Northern Powerhouse and the connection of the major economic areas in the north of England - like Wigan - and that investment in infrastructure is needed now more than ever before.”
“The views of business matter and with new Wigan President of the Chamber, Phil Eckersley, and Vice President, Kerry Whittle, now in place, Wigan members should know that they have people involved who care about business and how it can develop.
“Looking ahead to the next 12 months, with an elected Mayor for Greater Manchester in May and no doubt other changes associated with Brexit, now is exactly the right time for businesses to get involved and help shape what they need to be successful.”
Don’t miss our eight-page Wigan Business Awards supplement in this week’s Wigan Observer ... on sale on Tuesday.