Fenland Leisure Products crowned Business of the Year at inaugural awards

PLAYGROUND equipment specialists Fenland Leisure Products was last night crowned the district s Business of the Year at the inaugural Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard Fenland Enterprise Business Awards. For more than a decade the Christchurch company has worked

PLAYGROUND equipment specialists Fenland Leisure Products was last night crowned the district's Business of the Year at the inaugural Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard Fenland Enterprise Business Awards.

For more than a decade the Christchurch company has worked with various agencies, councils and schools developing trim trails and adventure playgrounds.

And those years of dedication paid off last night, when it was crowned Fenland's Business of the Year for 2009.

The judges who chose Fenland's overall business of the year described Fenland Leisure Products as the "well-deserving winner in a group of fantastic entries".


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Fenland Leisure Products also won the award for Environment and Community Impact. The company beat Fuller-Gray Carpet Tiles, of Chatteris, to the award.

Fenland Leisure Products has built eco-build offices, which use harvested rainwater, introduced waste biomass heating in their warehouse and recently been accredited with the Carbon Trust Standard.

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Two hundred people packed into the Braza Club in March last night for the lavish gala. They were treated to a champagne reception, a four-course meal made up of soup, roast chicken, cheesecake or fruit and biscuits with cheese.

Guest of honour was Fenland's Paralympic hero Jody Cundy, winner of gold medals in both the swimming pool and the velodrome. He announced all the winners.

Commercial Utility Brokers (UK) Ltd, of March, which offers brokerage to help businesses maintain low-cost energy and telecoms services, also won two awards.

The company won the Training and Development Award and Sales Director Louis Fairfax, aged 23, won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

WHM Anglia, of Wisbech, won one of the three awards it was nominated for, the Creative Innovation Award for the Binsafe product which protects wheelie bins from theft and arson.

Years of hard work paid off for Next Steps Community Care, of March, when it won the Medium Business of the Year, for companies which employ six or more people. It staved off competition from Dots 2 Tots in Chatteris, Pilgrims of March and the Skylark Country Store and Garden Centre in Wimblington to win the gong.

Dots 2 Tots, however, went on to win the New Business of the Year Award. The day nursery opened in June this year and is already looking to expand.

There was also success for Aerial Smiths Ltd, of Chatteris, which won the Small Business of the Year category.

Marketing and PR consultant Amanda Carlin, from Wimblington, won the Women in Business award.

Sharon Howlett, from Gorefield, was named Business Person of the Year for opening her own salon, Choy� Par Sharon, and writing nine manuals which were later accredited by a trade body.

And the Social Enterprise Award went to Hope Social Enterprises, which provides work experience to the long-term unemployed across Fenland.

• For more from the night, including photographs by our photographer Brian Purdy, visit the awards' micro-site on Monday.

YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by the Kids Are Alright Campaign

WINNER: LOUIS FAIRFAX, COMMERCIAL UTILITY BROKERS (UK) LTD, MARCH

Since starting at Commercial Utility Brokers (UK) Ltd in 2005, Louis has worked his way up from Sales Executive to Sales Director. He increased revenue, sites and customers so significantly the directors thought he was well deserving of his promotion at the tender age of 23. Once staff were made aware of his promotion they were all proud and thought it well deserving.

SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Moore Thompson

WINNER: AERIAL SMITHS LTD, CHATTERIS

Aerial Smiths, run by husband-and-wife team Caroline and Jamie Turnbull, maximised on the digital switchover and now operate a fledgling business. They face the prospect of turning a profit in this financial year and are looking to expand next year with another vehicle.

The judges said that Aerial Smiths "was a well thought out business, with great potential for the future".

FINALISTS: MT Cars Ltd, Whittlesey; WHM Anglia Ltd, Wisbech.

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE AWARD

Sponsored by Cambridgeshire County Council

WINNER: HOPE SOCIAL ENTERPRISES

Hope provides work experience to the long-term unemployed, while benefiting communities and their environment. Hope helps people develop practical skills, including basic introduction to business, health and safety and time management.

The judges said: "It was a very good entry which ticked all the boxes of a successful social enterprise - working closely with the long-term unemployed and bringing benefit not only to them, but to the local business community as well as championing environmental issues around Fenland."

FINALIST: Roddons Housing Association.

BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Graham Dack and Company Solicitors

WINNER: SHARON HOWLETT, CHOY: PAR SHARON, GOREFIELD

After leaving school in 1987 with no qualifications, Sharon worked her way through training course after training course to retrain and then open her salon, Choy� par Sharon. Not only did she start her own business, she then proceeded to write nine manuals which were later accredited by the Guild.

The judges said: "The business Sharon has created for herself has great potential, alongside her charity events and training other beauty therapists."

FINALISTS: Paul Davies, Fenland Bio-Diesel Processors, March; Steve Thompson, WHM Anglia Ltd, Wisbech.

MEDIUM BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Business Link

WINNER: NEXT STEPS COMMUNITY CARE LTD, MARCH

Next Steps specialise in supporting people with learning disabilities to live in their own homes and enable users of their service to achieve their goals and to be in control of their lives.

The judges said: "Persistence has paid off for this company and they should be proud of all their hard work. With many other businesses in their market place, this business proved flexibility and hard work was the winning formula."

FINALISTS: Dots 2 Tots, Chatteris; Pilgrims of March; Skylark Country Store & Garden Centre, Wimblington.

CREATIVE INNOVATION AWARD

Sponsored by Local Generation

WINNER: WHM ANGLIA LTD, WISBECH

WHM Anglia's Binsafe product protects wheelie bins from fire and theft. Managing Director Steve Thompson maximised on the recession, monitored local crime statistics and the market, paving the way for a bright future.

The judges said: "The way the business has used an innovative product and market development to address falling sales is good." They are looking forward to seeing the full impact the product has on the market."

FINALISTS: Fenland Bio-Diesel Processors Ltd, March; Hoverit Ltd, Chatteris.

TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT AWARD

Sponsored by Fenmarc Produce

WINNER: COMMERCIAL UTILITY BROKERS (UK) LTD, MARCH

Commercial Utility Brokers (UK) Ltd has a strong training and development culture within their business and directors believe it increases confidence, knowledge and self worth. Staff are encouraged to undertake training courses, apprenticeships and then re-lay their training to other members of staff.

The judges said they were "impressed with the comprehensive training and development programme which is clearly a key component of their business model".

They also said: "Commercial Utility Brokers (UK) Ltd's commitment to young development is outstanding."

FINALISTS: Hope Social Enterprises - The Ferry Project, Wisbech; D Humphrey and Son Demolition, Gorefield.

NEW BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Frontline Autos

WINNER: DOTS 2 TOTS, CHATTERIS

Dots 2 Tots is Chatteris' first day nursery and opened in June. Owner Nicola Stanley is already looking to the future and is looking to increase the number of children they look after from 19 to 34.

The judges said: "After establishing a need in Chatteris for a childcare nursery, Dots 2 Tots took this opportunity and grabbed it with both hands.

"Their entry showed a strong business model, and the future looks promising for this fledgling business."

FINALISTS: G-Fitz, March; the Rose and Crown pub, March.

WOMEN IN BUSINESS

Sponsored by the Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard

WINNER: AMANDA CARLIN

Amanda helps businesses fight the doom and gloom of the credit crunch by providing services on a virtual and worldwide level. She started as a freelance marketing and PR consultant, and then realised that business needed PA assistance. The success of the business has meant she has had to employ nine members of staff.

The judges said Amanda "has shown great flair in recognising a business opportunity".

They also said: "She has recognised the advantages of utilising personal skills of individual staff members and this has contributed considerably to the success of the business."

FINALISTS: Sarah Bailey, Paws 2 Door, Thorney; Tamzin Nichols, Muddy Billy's, March.

ENVIRONMENT AND COMMUNITY IMPACT

Sponsored by Fenland District Council

WINNER: FENLAND LEISURE PRODUCTS, CHRISTCHURCH

As part of their promise to the environment Fenland Leisure Products has built eco-build offices, which use harvested rainwater, and introduced waste biomass heating in their warehouse. The company has also recently been accredited with the Carbon Trust Standard, which means it can now track the amount of carbon dioxide they are using.

The judges said: "Fenland Leisure Products show a clear commitment to environmental and community issues, together with demonstrating achievement in these areas. They should be very proud of what they have achieved."

FINALIST: Fuller-Gray Carpet Tiles, Chatteris.

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Whiting and Partners

WINNER: FENLAND LEISURE PRODUCTS, CHRISTCHURCH

The seven judges were really impressed with Fenland Leisure Products' commitment to the environment and the community.

Schemes include the Trees for Life project, which offers a tree with every trim trail. The company also supports Fenland schools and the community.

The judges said: "This company is a well-deserving winner in a group of fantastic companies.

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