Berwick firms win at Northumberland Business Awards

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TWO Berwick-based companies, and firms from Belford and Norham were among the winners at the 2012 Northumberland Business Awards.

Following on from the success of previous ceremonies at Linden Hall in Longhorsley, near Morpeth, once again employers and entrepreneurs were rewarded for their achievements in business over the past 12 months.

Fantasy Prints managing director Sarah McMorn receieves the apprenticeship ambassador award from Stuart Cutforth of Northumberland College.

Fantasy Prints managing director Sarah McMorn receieves the apprenticeship ambassador award from Stuart Cutforth of Northumberland College.

Among them were Fantasy Prints, winner of the apprenticeship award. Berwick-based internet search marketing firm collected the technology award, while Longmere Consultants was named small business of the year. Bedmax of Belford won the export prize.

The awards, organised by Northeast Press, are now in their fifth year, and recognise businesses across a range of activities.

Dozens of entries from around the county were received for the ever-growing competition, and the judges faced a difficult task in selecting the winners.

Businesses from across the region battled it out for prizes in 12 categories including best business start-up, using local suppliers, training, entrepreneurship, business in the community, technology, environmental awareness, export, apprenticeships, and tourism.

The tourism award was a new category that was added into the awards this year, which was picked up by Close House Hotel.

Northeast Press managing director Stuart Birkett said: “Now in their fifth year, these awards are firmly established as a vital part of Northumberland’s business calendar.

“Despite challenging times, Northumberland has had a great year – a great Olympic year, in fact.

“There have been some brilliant business success stories this year, and businesses of all types and sizes have put in some great performances and given us no shortage of excellent entries for thiese awards.

“The standard of entries is such that this years judging was harder than ever.”

Organisations threw their support behind the event, including Banks Group, Northumberland County Council, Bernicia, Northumberland College, Quantum Elite, McDonald Hotels, Spacecraft, Port of Blyth and Arch Development Group, and the main sponsor of the night was once again Northumberland Business Service Limited (Ltd).

Chief executive officer Phil Langton said: “This is a very important time to recognise and promote the achievements of our private sector local businesses and the impact they are having on the Northumberland economy.

“We are again delighted to be the major sponsor for the fifth year.

“These awards not only celebrate the achievements and successes of our local businesses, they are also a window through which people in the region and further afield can see that Northumberland is a great place from which to start and grow a business.”

The awards ceremony included a drinks reception, three course meal, as well as a charity raffle, the proceeds of which will be donated to Newbiggin Lifeboat Charity.


A SPECIALIST debt collecting and private investigation firm based in Norham won the best small business award.

Longmore Consultants was set up ten years ago and in that time has carved a real niche in their industry sector growing their business through, diversification and a strong bias towards ethical practise.

Director John Moses was on hand to pick up the award, sponsored by Northeast Press.

Judges were impressed by the work of the company, who say they will help anyone regardless of the enquiry.

The professional enquiry agency offers a variety of services including background checks, UK missing person traces and private investigations, as well as debt recovery with their certified bayliffs.

Going by their motto “We don’t just provide a solution, we provide solutions”, the company has enjoyed recent growth over the last few years.

Mr Moses said: “I am amazed that we won. We try to make a connection between the debtor and the collector to ensure they never lose the client.”

Also nominated were Stuart Wiggins Ltd, Complete Business Supplies Ltd, Samphire Bay, and Claire Barber PR & Media Ltd.


WORK highlighting the best accommodation and visitor attractions in the country has helped a Berwick-based company win the technology award., an internet search marketing firm located at Workspace in the town centre, is growing despite competition from similar firms around the world.

With limited resources compared to the global players in this competitive market, TourISM has carved itself a niche in the accommodation and ‘things to do’ online markets in the UK.

With a growing membership and a team of nine employees, they continue to forge ahead even in these difficult times.

Managing director Gary Herron said: “I didn’t expect to win at all, but I feel really honoured to receive the award.

“We are a small north east business and we go head to head with the likes of Expedia and, who are multi-million-pound companies, and we compete against them.

“It is one of unique selling points that we are based in Northumberland, as everyone likes the accent and knows we are friendly people, it works in our favour. Everybody likes people from Northumberland.”

The company picked up the award, sponsored by Quantum Elite at this year’s Northumberland Business Awards, which was presented by director Lissa White Delf, beating off competition from

Pipeline Innovations Ltd and Coast Technology.


A Belford company landed the export award after expanding from small stable surroundings to the international field.

Bedmax was created in 2000 to provide an ideal natural bedding that solved the problem of respiratory damage in stabled horses.

After taking the UK market by storm, they have grown their business through export to an ever increasing number of customers in Ireland, Europe and as far afield as Hong Kong.

The firm picked up the export award, sponsored by Northumberland College, after judges said: “This category was of exceptionally high standard and a real testament to Northumberland businesses that are exporting worldwide.”

Managing director Tim Smalley said: “It is wonderful to win. It is a great achievement and I am pleased for all the people who have made it happen.

“We have gone overseas where we know the markets and we have done a lot of work to get there.

“It’s great that a small firm with a big idea is now on the international scene, with enquiries still coming in on a regular basis.”

The award was presented by Port of Blyth chief executive Martin Lawlor.

Other firms shortlisted, were Inspire People Group, and Techflow Ltd.


A Berwick firm with nine employees on an apprenticeship scheme picked up a top award for its work.

Fantasy Prints, which has premises in West Street and North Road Industrial Estate, picked up the apprenticeship ambassador award.

The printing firm, based in Berwick, was established 20 years ago, and credits its growth to their commitment to training both old and new members of the team.

The company currently has nine employees on the apprenticeship scheme, aged from 18 to 51, across a diverse range of skills sets from warehousing to IT.

Managing director Sarah McMorn said: “I am absolutely delighted to win this award. I think we were recognised for the effort that we put into the training and the apprenticeships that we offer.

“I think Northumberland is thriving at the moment and it is great to be a part of that.”

The award, sponsored by Northumberland College, was presented by principle Stuart Cutforth.

Bernicia was also shortlisted for the award.


A SPECIAL honour was presented to a man who has helped put Northumberland firmly on the tourism map.

Giles Ingram has been responsible for improving the county’s economy through a variety of initiatives and projects over the last six years.

He received the outstanding contribution award.

NBSL chief executive Phil Langton, who presented the award, said: “Giles was recruited in 2007 to establish Northumberland Tourism as a key organisation tasked with promoting Northumberland and increasing the value of Northumberland’s tourism economy.

“Over the last six years Giles has made a significant contribution resulting in the value of Northumberland’s tourism economy growing substantially, and a dramatically increased profile internationally.

“The sector now makes up 11.8 per cent of the county’s economy, contributing in the region of £665m.

“The county’s profile has significantly increase, with Northumberland tourism leading innovative digital and online marketing campaigns.

“Giles has been intrinsic in leading a range of impressive initiatives which have helped increase the number of visitors to the county and supported the growth of our tourism businesses, particularly key to our county in these challenged times.

“It is an honour to recognise Giles Ingram this year for his outstanding contribution to business in Northumberland.”

Giles said: “I have worked my socks off to put this county on the map nationally.

“According to Visit England’s new 2012 visitor satisfaction survey Northumberland is now the third most loved destination in England, beating long established favourites nationwide, and that is something to be very proud of.

“I am completely shocked to win this award, and very honoured.”


A COMPANY which helps millions of home composters to compost all food waste without odour or vermin, won the green business of the year award.

From a standing start, Hot Bin Composting, based in Morpeth, has sold nearly 2,000 units in less than a year, and has already appeared on Simon Mayo’s BBC Radio 2 show, and was declared one of the best three composting bins by The Telegraph.

Judges said the firm “demonstrated a strong commitment to green working practices.”

Managing director Tony Callaghan said: “I think what sets us out from the rest is that we have developed a product that can be used by everyone in the UK.

“It is a national product, but created here in Northumberland.

“This county is a fantastic place to live, and I am glad we can work as a firm in the north east, as so much is outsourced so it is good to be able to work in Northumberland.”

Katie Perkin from award sponsors the Banks Group, presented the award.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at the Banks Group, said: “Our support for the initiative’s Green Business of the Year category fits perfectly with our ‘development with care’ approach, which puts responsible business practices and the wider environment at the centre of everything we do.”

The firm was shortlisted alongside Home Scents, and Woodhorn Trust.


A COMPANY which offers help and advice to businesses looking to grow and expand is celebrating after being named start-up of the year.

Morpeth-based Facet Solutions, which has enjoying a 42 per cent growth over the last year, offer advice and consultancy to business leaders keen to spread their wings.

The company offers individual support to businesses to help identify and understand the areas of growth through performance, ensuring careful consultation is available to decide on the best options, giving support all the way.

The firm fought off competition from Graphic Embers, Executype PA and The Hogs Head to take home the accolade of Best Business Start-up, sponsored by NBSL.

At just two years old, Facet Solutions has grown its market share regionally and nationally, and is on target to grow 42 per cent this year.

Founder and director, David Steel, said: “I am overjoyed to be collecting this award. I think we have won this because of the determination we have to get the offer right for the market place.

“It’s about aligning the offer to the regional growth plans.

“To grow your business we know that the blend of support is crucial. We have developed a unique approach of coaching, training and consultancy which is the key to our clients understanding and achieving their aspirations.

“This means a great deal to us to be recognised in this way.”

Judges said the category was particularly difficult to judge, and the nominees were of an exceptionally high standard.

NBSL chief executive officer Phil Langton presented the award.


A POPULAR hotel in the stunning countryside of Northumberland won the inaugural tourism award.

Close House, based in Heddon-on-the-wall, picked up the prize for its work in helping bring Northumberland onto the international map.

The privately owned luxury hotel boasts two 18-hole golf courses, a state-of-the-art driving range and golf academy,and Lee Westwood as the attached Tour Pro.

Set in stunning Northumberland countryside and its own scenic grounds, the elegant 18th-century mansion is only 20 minutes’ drive from Newcastle Airport and the city.

Seamus Cohen, general manager of Mcdonald Hotels, who sponsored the category, presented the award.

Director Alan Graham said: “We are delighted to win this award. If Close House can contribute and play a small part in helping the region.

“I think we started from nothing and over the last eight years we have grown and we will continue to grow over the next five years. We have become a major employer in Tyne Valley and continue to attract a local, national, and hopefully international audience to Northumberland.

“Having Lee Westwood has helped us put Northumberland on the map.”

Your Northumberland Guide and Coquet Cottages were also shortlisted.


AN ENTREPRENEUR who started creating products to aid her asthmatic granddaughter collected the entrepreneur award.

Judith Mathias started Home Scents just over five years ago when she was concerned about the rise in childhood asthma and ezcema.

Judges were impressed with Judith’s efforts, presenting her with the entrepreneur of the year award, sponsored by the Northumberland Gazette at the ceremony.

Judith, from Hexham, developed a product to justify the needs of her and her famiy, and has now not only grown and developed the product range, but is also trading on an international level, creating 100 per cent natural toiletries.

Judith said: “We are really innovative and our products are 100 per cent nautral, which I think is what sets us apart from the rest.

“My background in aromatherapy product development and essential oils enabled me to start developing our own range.

“Initially we started with household cleaning products, then came our Baby Scents range, toiletries and now we have our latest development Violet’s Magic Laundry range.

“I don’t come from this area but it is great to be able to work in a business in Northumberland.”

The judges said: “Judith has truly embraced the entrepreneurial spirit by sourcing a solution to her problem, developing it, and building a successful business.”

Also nominated were Wendy Reed – By Wendy Ltd, Martin Tulip – Bouncy Vibe, Lissa White-Delf – Quantum Elite, Julie Robinson – The Emporium, and Gillian Epworth – The Tall Maternity Store.

Northumberland Gazette and Morpeth Herald editor Paul Larkin presented her with the award.


AN organisation which provides behaviour safety training for national firms picked up the training award.

Azea, based in Amble, can list Tesco, Balfour Beatty, Guiness, Diageo, Network Rail and Northumberland County Council among its clients.

The firm has increased its turnover by 353 per cent in 2012.

Azea was presented with the award, sponsored by The Berwick Advertiser, for its significant contribution to training and development of staff.

Managing director Bruce Durham said: “We are the only company in the UK to have gained IOSH accreditation to deliver a full behavioural safety programme under the IOSH brand.

“Our interactive and enthusiastic behavioural programmes consistently deliver results such as increased staff retention, increased productivity, and a decrease in accidents.

“We create a journey that employees understand, believe in, and will adhere to, as they can visualise the benefits they will gain from the programme.

“We offer a number of programme options that can be tailored to meet the requirements of the firm, which I think is what makes us different to other training firms.”

The judges said the winner showed cutting edge training delivery with direct impact on a nationally recognised level.

Also nominated were Blyth Tall Ship, B&B Attachments and Headway Arts.


BOSSES behind a youth club in the county that has helped to reduce anti social behaviour were left speechless after earning top recognition for their work in the community.

Castle Mania won the business in the community Award.

Based in Amble, Castle Mania has been trading for six and a half years providing a safe and fun environment for families to play.

A regular youth club for the children aged nine to 13 has had a direct impact on reducing anti social behaviour in the area, and the firm are also supporters of the Trident work experience programme and offer work placements to young learners aged 14 to 16.

Manager director Janneil Elliott said: “I am absolutely speechless. It is amazing to be recognised like this. The fact that after six and a half years in the financial climate to be surviving is something, but we have done it all of our own backs.

“We have had really good support of our family, friends and the local community, who are always very happy to support us.”

The company picked up the Business in the Community accolade, sponsored by Bernicia at this year’s Northumberland Business Awards, beating off competition from Off the Rail Kids, Bad Apples North East and Cramlington Kids Club.

Bernicia chairman Ian Armstrong presented the award.


A POPULAR food festival scooped the keep it local award for helping the local economy.

The festival was founded by Alnwick Lions and is has now grown from strength to strength and has set up as a limited company.

This is the fourth year that the award, sponsored by Spacecraft, has been presented to a company.

The judges said: “The winner clearly champions the ‘keep it local’ ethos at every level, with other towns now looking to duplicate their model and success.”

Chairman Ian Brown said: “It is always interesting that other people are looking to copy our model, which we are flattered by. We love working with the local communities and we are happy to share our ideas.

“Keeping it local is exactly what the food festival is all about. Every effort is made to ensure that the whole community benefits from the weekend-long event, and all businesses are actively encouraged to take part.

“This year was a record year for the festival bringing over 30,000 visitors to the town, and generating an estimated £350,000 of revenue.”

The festival beat off competition from Northumberland County Council Visitor Information Services and Taste North East to win the accolade.


A BLYTH-based telecare and assistive technology company has been named Northumberland’s large business of the year.

Chairman Tony Platten picked up the accolade, sponsored by Arch Development Company, on behalf of his company Tynetec Ltd.

In this category judges were looking for what makes the business a success, and how it differs from its competitiors.

Tyntec has been working for 30 years in the design and manufacture of call systems and telehealth solutions, and has recently been recognised in an independent study for the fastest 50 growing companies in the north east.

Tony Platten said: “This is fantastic to win this award.

“We employ 135 people now, so we are pleased to be a large business.

“To survive in the current market we have to have a niche market which allows us to compete, and we have managed to grow more than 30 per cent in the last three years.

“Earlier this year we doubled our production and warehousing capabilities with the opening of a new facility close to our existing headquarters in Blyth, and it is great to be recognised for the work that we are doing.”

The firm beat off competition from TechFlow Ltd and Moulded Packaging Solutions Ltd.

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