Direct Food Ingredients

Winner High Sheriff’s Awards for Enterprise 2016/17: Direct Food Ingredients. Also in the photo are Professor Phil Harris, University of Chester; High Sheriff of Cheshire, Kathy Cowell; Christine Gaskell, Chair Cheshire and Warrington LEP; Phil Brereton, LDF; Jo Challoner, O2.

More than 300 guests gathered at Chester Racecourse to celebrate the High Sheriff of Cheshire Enterprise Awards, hosted by the High Sheriff of Cheshire, Kathy Cowell, and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester, Professor Tim Wheeler. The guest speaker was New York Times best-selling author, consultant, educator, broadcaster, former NBA star, and elite psychologist, John Amaechi OBE.

Direct Food Ingredients scooped the overall prize High Sheriff’s Award for Enterprise 2016/17, sponsored by Cheshire and Warrington LEP, LDF and O2. Judges were looking for an organisation that had achieved outstanding commercial success and sustainable growth for this prestigious award.

Direct Food Ingredients is located in Macclesfield and is an established leader in the import and distribution of food and nutritional ingredients. Steve Loake, Managing Director of Direct Food Ingredients, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won the High Sheriff’s Award for Enterprise, particularly after our record year in 2016. It is fantastic recognition for all the hard work and dedication that our staff provide to our customers on a day-to-day basis and the award will certainly take pride of place in our reception.”

Direct Food Ingredients wins a place on the University of Chester’s MBA programme, for an appropriately qualified member of staff, worth £10,000.

The Mornflake Oats Award for Innovation was won by Tattenhall-based company, The Ice Cream Farm. The Fell family has been creating award-winning Cheshire Farm Ice Cream for nearly 30 years. The site has expanded dramatically with time and currently attracts over half a million visitors a year. In addition to all of this, the site has recently had a £4 million redevelopment.

Jonathan Fell, Director of The Ice Cream Farm, said: “We go out of our way to ensure constant innovation with a dedication and commitment to excellence at The Ice Cream Farm. As such, being recognised with this award makes us extremely proud and eager to look for more ways that we can progress the business.”

The Ice Cream Farm will receive £3,000 in prize money.

Highly Commended in the same category was Chester-based innovative restaurant The Chef’s Table.

The High Sheriff’s Award for Responsible Business Practice, sponsored by Your Housing Group, was deservedly won by Kawneer UK Ltd, who are based in Runcorn. The judging panel was looking for organisations that demonstrate a high standard of commitment in the way in which they organise and integrate their responsible business practices.

Managing Director, Phil Randles, said: “As a company, we are immensely proud and pleased to receive this award which reflects the many hours of commitment given by our employees to helping improve the local community and environment. Over the last 10 years, with the help of the Arconic Foundation our charitable giving arm, Kawneer UK has been able to support local charities with donations of more than £320,000 and our employees have given over 3,000 hours of service.”  Kawneer UK will receive £3,000 in prize money.

The Roberts Bakery Family Award of Excellence Award went to Malpas family firm, Barlows UK Ltd. Judges were looking for leaders of outstanding entrepreneurial families and the achievements of specific family businesses in Cheshire, Warrington and Halton.  Barlows UK Ltd will receive £3,000 in prize money.

David Barlow, Director of Barlows UK Ltd, and an honorary graduate of the University of Chester, was also the recipient of one of two special awards given on the night. The Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire, David Briggs MBE KstJ, presented him with a Special Recognition Award, commending him in particular for championing young people and apprentice schemes in particular. David is an Ambassador for the National Apprenticeship Service, advising employers of the benefits of training and employing young people across the North West, and promoting the advantages of apprenticeships within a National Ambassador Network.

As a Director of Barlows UK Ltd, a family-run business that provides property maintenance solutions across the UK, David has spearheaded the growth of five Academies and is personally involved in teaching over 120 apprentices.

David Barlow said: “I was honoured both for myself and on behalf of Barlows (UK) Ltd. to receive recognition at the wonderful award ceremony last Thursday evening.  It is a great boost to our company and staff to be chosen for the family business award and I would like to thank all at the High Sheriff awards, the judges, the organisers and the sponsors.  I would particularly like to thank Roberts Bakery for their kind sponsorship.”

The Award for Training, Development and Opportunity for Young People, sponsored by Chess and Click Consult, was won by Stockport company Cheshire Scaffolds Ltd. The judges were looking for businesses who invest in the development of the skills of young people through the provision of training, apprenticeships and work experience.

Kevin Tottle, Contracts Director at Cheshire Scaffolds Ltd, said: “Cheshire Scaffolds Ltd are absolutely delighted to have been awarded Winner of the Training, Development and Opportunity for Young People Award for 2016/17. It is a real accolade and reflects all the hard work and commitment of our staff team across the whole of the business. We will continue to invest in our people and endeavour to make the most of the High Sheriff’s award.” Cheshire Scaffolds Ltd will receive £3,000 worth of prize money.

The Cheshire Business Exporter of the Year, sponsored by ESL Fuels and West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, went to Laser Quantum Ltd, based in Stockport.  Jennifer Szczepaniak Sloane, Senior Marketing Executive at Laser Quantum Ltd said: “Laser Quantum is extremely pleased to have won the Exporter award for 2016/17. It is testament to the quality of the products we manufacture and the hard work of all our staff. This recognition only further inspires us to continue to grow, by expanding into new territories and technologies.”

Laser Quantum Ltd will receive a bespoke package of support, to help research and develop overseas trade in one new market.

Highly Commended in the same category were Runcorn company Tall Security Print Ltd.

The Cheshire Business Leaders Award for the Cheshire and Warrington Entrepreneur of the Year went to Steven Pendergast, from Bluestones Investment Group based in Ellesmere Port.  He receives £500 prize money to invest in his business, plus free mentoring and business support to the value of £500 from Chester Business Leader members. Oli Yeates from Cheshire Business Leaders said: “Steven had an excellent application supported by an excellent interview which gave myself and the other judges a detailed insight into the incredible growth his business had seen over such a short period of time. We were all impressed with Steven’s entrepreneurial attitude and the huge amount of hard work that had gone into building the business, creating new jobs for the local area.”

The Cheshire Business Leaders Award for the Outstanding Cheshire and Warrington Business Leader went to Philip McEvoy, Operations Director at Argent Oil, also based in Ellesmere Port. Phil receives £500 prize money and membership of Cheshire Business Leaders.

Oli Yeates from Cheshire Business Leaders said: “The judges were impressed with the level of responsibility and wide breadth of skills Phillip had demonstrated in fulfilling an incredibly important role within a large biofuels business. As well as running the operational side of Argent Energy, Philip also explained the ambitious growth plans for the business and detailed his important role in overseeing numerous construction projects and growth plans at Stanlow, creating new jobs for the area both directly and for the local supply chain. A very impressive application and well deserved award.”

In the new Apprenticeship Awards, sponsored by Barlows Electrical Ltd, Frodsham-based company Heat Trace were awarded Best Company. East Cheshire Hospice was Highly Commended.

Dan Berrisford, Managing Director of Heat Trace, said: “It’s fantastic to win such a prestigious award.  It confirms that we’re doing the right things and is well deserved recognition for the hard work of the staff that run our apprenticeship scheme and especially for our apprentices who are very much the stars of the show.”

There were three recipients for the Best Apprentice Award, including two University of Chester Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship students: Lucy Brown, who is an apprentice at West of England Textiles Ltd, which has an office based in Chester; and Emilia Hoyle, who is an apprentice at Heat Trace Ltd. The third recipient was apprentice James Sydenham, who works for Packaging Automation in Knutsford.

Emilia said: “I am delighted and honoured to win the Best Apprentice award. It gives me great satisfaction receiving this award, it is the reward for my hard work and dedication. Thank you to David Barlow for sponsoring the award! I always strive to produce quality work and I am continually improving and developing as an individual and within my role at Heat Trace.  I feel privileged to be within the first cohort of Degree Apprenticeships at the University of Chester, it is a great opportunity to be completing a Degree whilst working and earning. I am really enjoying my apprenticeship and all my colleagues are very supportive!”

Lucy said: “It was such an incredible experience to be one of the winners of the Best Individual in the Apprentice category at the High Sheriff Awards. It’s great to see such overwhelming support from the community to alternative Higher Education routes. Hopefully this new award can continue to grow and develop in the years to come.”

James said: “I am surprised and delighted to receive the High Sheriff’s Award for Best Apprentice. I would like to thank all of my colleagues at Packaging Automation who have helped and supported me during my apprenticeship.”

The second special Award of the evening – for the Special Enterprising Project of the Year – was awarded to Chester Zoo for its Islands at Chester Zoo project. Jamie Christon, Chief Operating Officer at Chester Zoo, said: “We were delighted to be acknowledged at the High Sheriff’s Awards for the Islands development at Chester Zoo. The £40m extension of the Zoo has helped increase our visitor numbers to 1.9m in 2016, create an insight into the conservation work we do in South East Asia and provide a showcase habitat for the endangered species we look after.”

Christine Gaskell, Chair of Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “Cheshire and Warrington’s economy is one of the strongest in the country, with the second highest level of income per head in England outside of London. The High Sheriff’s Awards is a fantastic showcase of the achievements of local businesses vividly demonstrating the success of the Cheshire and Warrington economy.”

Professor Phil Harris, the Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Awards, said: “The High Sheriff of Cheshire Enterprise Awards is a celebration of growing sustainable businesses, entrepreneurs and its people and their skills in a dynamic mixed Cheshire/ Warrington/ Halton economy. These business awards are a celebration of that sector, its businesses, community, people and talents.”

Kathy Cowell, the High Sheriff of Cheshire, said: “It was a delight to host these business awards and to see the range of companies who entered – we had entries from a range of businesses who are geographically dispersed across the county and of varying sizes.  Despite fundamental differences in these companies, there were some clear recurring themes throughout the companies, such as standards, quality, total focus on the customer and passion and it was lovely to celebrate these businesses.”

The High Sheriff also paid tribute to the generosity of the Cheshire Business community, who on the night raised £2,000 for Cheshire Crimebeat