Chester Cathedral provided the stunning backdrop to what proved to be the best attended Cheshire Business Awards ceremony ever.

Three hundred people packed the 2015 event to see awards handed out to the most impressive companies and individuals in the county’s economic and commercial community.

The awards are run by Trinity Mirror Cheshire, publishers of The Chester Chronicle, The Crewe Chronicle and the Ellesmere Port Pioneer among others, and were presented in association with SAS Daniels.

Trinity Mirror Business Development Director Andy Phelan at the 2015 Cheshire Business Awards ceremony at Chester Cathedral
Trinity Mirror Business Development Director Andy Phelan at the 2015 Cheshire Business Awards ceremony at Chester Cathedral

The evening was introduced by Trinity Mirror business development director Andy Phelan who said: “Trinity Mirror Cheshire is extremely proud to be hosting this event for the 12th successive year.

“We are proud to be associated with terrific sponsors and our thanks go to key partners SAS Daniels LLP who have supported this event magnificently in the past few years.

“We are delighted with the quality and quantity of entries this year and these awards celebrate the best of the best in terms of the companies and people who have helped grow prosperity and confidence in this region.

“Thanks to all of you for being a part of the Cheshire Business Awards this year.”

Cheshire Business Awards 2015: host Lucy Meacock
Cheshire Business Awards 2015: host Lucy Meacock

Mr Phelan then introduced a familiar figure who has become synonymous with the success of the business community in Cheshire and the awards ceremony itself - Granada TV news presenter and former Chester Chronicle reporter Lucy Meacock who once again served as host for the occasion.

She said: “Since the first awards in 2003 we have seen so many successful businesses and business people on this stage accepting their awards and going on to further success – people who do Cheshire proud - and we’re looking forward to meeting more of them tonight.

“Every one one of you on the shortlists really should be proud of what you have achieved – the standard of entries always impresses the judges who had some really tough decisions to make in drawing up our shortlists and winners this year.”

There was also a fundraising aspect to the occasion with a raffle taking place of The Chronicle-supported Miles of Smiles and the Countess of Chester Hospital Babygrow Appeal.”

Selfie sticks were made available on all tables at the event with guests encouraged to take their own pictures, the results of which can be seen in the gallery below.

Award winners

Apprenticeship Award sponsored by Find It in Cheshire and Warrington, presented by Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Board member Nigel Schofield:

Winner: Barlows (UK) Ltd. Judges’ comments: This company demonstrates a clear strategy to its apprenticeship programme with plans to increase the number of apprentices further.

Shortlisted: Brookfield Rose; Regatta.

Your Housing Group Employer of the Year Award, presented by director for people and communications Wendy Doherty:

Winner: Chess. Judges’ comments: More than 90% of employees in this company score the business as a ‘great place to work’, the second highest score in the country according to The Sunday Times Best Companies Survey.

Shortlisted: Balluff Limited; Reckless.

Corporate Social Responsibility Award sponsored by Liverpool John Lennon Airport, presented by director of air service development at John Lennon Airport Mark Povall:

Winner: Prism Solutions Ltd. Judges’ comments: This company uses their expertise to support local charities in an innovative way.

Shortlisted: Overwater Marina; Unipart Rail Ltd.

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Trinity Mirror Cheshire Innovation and Enterprise Award, presented by managing director of Trinity Mirror North West and North Wales Carl Wood:

Winner: EA Technology. Judges’ comments: The judges noted this was an extremely competitive category this year. It was difficult to select finalists let alone a winner from such a strong field of entries. But with a long and distinguished track record of innovation they decided EA Technology was the winner.

Shortlisted: Beer Dock; Clever Adviser Technology Limited; Lawyer Checker.

Green Business Award, sponsored by The Mersey Forest, presented by Clare Olver.

Winnr: Hero Renewables Ltd. Judges’ comments: This company has a drive and passion to help the UK become a more sustainable country.

Shortlisted: Heaton House Events; Staycold

Business Start Up Award sponsored by Cheshire West & Chester Council and Blue Orchid, operations director at Blue Orchid Paul Ward.

Winner: Bexy Boo. Judges’ comments: The judges felt this business had exceptionally quick growth in a touch market.

Shortlisted: JG Creative; The Contemporary.

ScottishPower Business of the Year award for companies with up to 10 employees, presented by head of SME sales at ScottishPower Mark Pettican.

Winner: Staycold. Judges’ comments: The winner of this award is a small, local company dominating in a global market.

Shortlisted: Footsqueek Ltd; Zippy Baby Limited.

Cheshire Business Awards 2015

Business of the Year for companies with 11 to 50 employees, sponsored by NatWest, director of Chester and North Cheshire business banking for the NatWest Dave Furnival.

Winner: Direct Food Ingredients Ltd. Judges’ comments: In their 20th birthday year this business is celebrating record growth and the launch of its first office in the USA.

Shortlisted: Complete Sports Solutions; Reckless.

Metronet UK Business of the Year for businesses with more than 50 staff, presented by channel account manager at Metronet UK Laxmi Vekria.

Winner: P3: People, Potential, Possibilities. Judges’ comments: This was another difficult category to judge due to the high standard of entries. But with year on year growth since its inception the judges decided this was the winner.

Shortlisted: Encirc Group; ITC Luxury Travel Group.

Bentley Motors Young Business Person of the Year Award open to anyone aged under 35, presented by HR programme manager for Bentley Motors Phillipa Wright.

Winner: Samuel McGarrigle, Beer Dock. Judges’ comments: The judges felt that this young business person demonstrated success with a unique retail concept with clear ambitions for growth in the future.

Shortlisted: Jenny Owen from Lawyer Checker; Tom Smith from Car Tinting UK Ltd.

EA Technology Judges’ Choice Award, presented by CEO of EA Technology, Rob Davis.

Winner: Zippy Baby. Judges’ comments: The winner of this award is selected by the judges from all of the entries received. The judges felt that this business demonstrated excellent customer focus and with their growing national and international presence was helping to raise the profile of Cheshire.

SAS Daniels Business Person of the Year Award, presented by partner and head of corporate Jeremy Orrell and partner and head of commercial Kaye Whitby.

Winner: David Barlow, Barlows Electrical. Judges’ comments: This is another judges’ choice award and not open for entry. The winner is selected by the judges and is an individual who stands out from the crowd, has an entrepreneurial spirit, demonstrates determination and outstanding achievement, and inspires others around them.

Business Person of the Year

The biggest award of the night at the Cheshire Business Awards 2015 was the SAS Daniels Business Person of the Year which went to David Barlow of Barlows Electrical in Malpas.

Cheshire Business Awards 2015: The Apprenticeship Award, sponsored by Find It in Cheshire and Warrington, presented by Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Board member Nigel Schofield, was won by Barlows (UK) Ltd
Cheshire Business Awards 2015: The Apprenticeship Award, sponsored by Find It in Cheshire and Warrington, presented by Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Board member Nigel Schofield, was won by Barlows (UK) Ltd

Mr Barlow leads a family business that started life as a small electrical repair shop in the village of Malpas, repairing kettles and irons.

The company has grown steadily over the years. In 1961 they moved to larger premises with a bigger workshop. They now had two vans and a 24 hour call out system.

Only a few years later they opened a new shop in a high street location to enable to company to expand as the electrical contracting business developed.

Further expansion came in the 80s with another new shop and the company becoming an approved contractor for the leading voluntary regulatory body for the electrical contracting industry.

They now had ten vans on the road to deal with the increase in domestic and commercial clients.

By the 90s they had their own electrical testing department, a security alarm division and more retail outlets opening.

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Due to continued expansion the company opened new headquarters and has its very own onsite wholesale trade warehouse.

Their first regional branch opened in 2005 in Chadderton, Manchester offering a full range of electrical services to Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Their training academy opened in 2010 and has been recognised in a series of regional and national awards including being voted as the City and Guilds Top 100 Apprentice Employer in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

In 2013 the company celebrated 65 years and to date the company has grown to 280 staff and 200 vehicles with contracts across the UK.

They are still family owned and have retained the same values as when the company was founded 67 years ago.

Mr Barlow was educated at Chester Grammar School and started as an apprentice in the company his father began in 1948.

He later completed an MBA at the University of Liverpool and an MSc at the University of Portsmouth.

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In 2010 he was invited to join Summit Skills, the Government standards setting organisation for the building services industry that works to develop and maintain standards, qualifications and apprenticeships for the UK.

He was selected as one of only five employers in England to pioneer the Electrotechnical Trailblazer Working Group to design standards of apprenticeships for a new generation of young people.

He is an ambassador for the National Apprenticeship Service, advising employees of the benefits of training and employing young people across the North West and promoting the advantages of apprenticeships.

As a director of Barlows UK Ltd, a business that now provides property maintenance solutions across the UK, he has spearheaded the growth of five academies and as well as training the trainers, is personally involved in teaching over 120 apprentices.

Barlows has won more than 20 major accolades in the past five years and our winner has been received at Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street championing skills opportunities for young people.

The Trinity Mirror Cheshire Business Awards would like to thank the following sponsors for their support: SAS Daniels; ScottishPower; Cheshire West and Chester Council; Blue Orchid; Metronet UK; Find it in Cheshire and Warrington; The Mersey Forest; Bentley Motors; EA Technology.