THE cream of the region's business community was celebrated in a glittering ceremony on Friday.
Their success was recognised at the second annual Cheshire Business Awards Gala Dinner at The Moat House Hotel, Chester organised by Trinity Mirror Cheshire in association with Business Link Cheshire and Warrington.
Celebrities, dignitaries and politicians saluted businesses and individuals who were lined up in nine categories: Business Start-up; Small Business; Medium Business; Large Business; Employer of the Year; Community Award; Young Business Person; Women in Business and Business Person of the Year.
After a painstaking selection process, judges drew up a competitive shortlist of 22 outstanding nominees picked from a strongly-contested field of entries.
Editor-in-chief of Trinity Mirror Cheshire Eric Langton told the audience: 'Everyone in business knows how competitive the world is today.
'All nominations, considered by our independent judges, showed a real enthusiasm to be the best. Companies adapting and changing, developing staff, adding skills and showing flexibility.
He said: 'Our thanks to executive sponsors Business Link Cheshire and Warrington, and the other generous category sponsors.'
Granada TV Presenter Lucy Meacock hosted the evening and paid tribute to the diversity of strength of the region's business community.
She said: 'I am delighted to be here this evening for the second annual Trinity Mirror Cheshire Business Awards.
'In recent years, much innovation and imaginative commercial industrial development has taken place in Chester and we are here to pay tribute to the talent and dedication of our county's businesses.'
Chester MP Christine Russell said: 'The quality of the nominations demonstrates the diversity and strength of the local economy across Cheshire. I think the judges did a really good job'.
After the ceremony category winners spoke of their delight in scooping their awards. nOne of the highest honours, The Business Person of The Year category, went to Professor Tim Wheeler, Vice-Chancellor of the newly-appointed University of Chester who dedicated the award to his team of staff, students and supporters.
Prof Wheeler said: 'Obtaining University status was very much a team effort by the governors, staff and students of the University, all of whom had worked immensely hard for many years to achieve this recognition.
'We sometimes forget how successful Cheshire is in fostering new businesses and economic growth in the North West and it's most appropriate that we should celebrate success in this way.'
Jo Whiteley Director of Chester based marketing and design agency The Gate named Best Business Start Up' said: 'The team at The Gate is thrilled to have won the award and have our efforts recognised by the North West business industry. We have some excellent clients and motivated staff on board who contribute to our success and growth.'
Rob Abson Managing Director of Venture Group Ltd who won Medium Business Award said: 'We were very excited and delighted to win the award. This will give Venture Hotels Group a bigger profile in the local hotel sector and local market from which we derive a lot of business.
Funds raised on the evening went to Chronicle backed charity Miles of Smiles.