BUSINESSMEN and women took a break from sales and orders last Thursday night to come together for a ceremony in recognition of their excellence throughout the past year.
Following the Leader’s inaugural Banbridge and District Business Awards in 2010, an even greater crowd gathered as the winners of the 2012 awards were announced.
Almost 200 people took their seats in the Belmont Hotel as businesses were recognised for everything from Customer Service to Good Food and Tourism to People Development.
Most of the awards were judged by Adrienne McGill and Will McKee, with Best Customer Service and Good Food voted for by Leader readers.
Well-known Banbridge man Jim Bell, owner of William Bell Funeral Directors, scooped the Lifetime Achievement accolade for his many years’ service to the town.
Minister for Regional Development Danny Kennedy was the guest speaker for the evening and praised the high attendance at the ceremony as a testament to the hard work and great achievements of businesses in the area.
He also revealed that news on the development of Banbridge district would be announced in his department’s Regional Development Strategy in March.
Brian Henning, Managing Director of the Lotus Group and Stoney Properties, the joint venture partners of Land Securities at Bridgewater Park, spoke on behalf of the main sponsors of the evening.
He reiterated his praise of Banbridge’s success over the years and its potential for the future, and urged residents to lobby their local representatives to promote the area in a similar way to nearby cities like Lisburn and Newry.
Donations on the night for chosen charity PIPS Banbridge - a suicide awareness and prevention group - amounted to more than £1,100.
Entertainment after the awards was provided by Tim McGarry, star of Give My Head Peace, who poked fun at the various politicians in attendance.
Speaking afterwards Jo-Anne Dobson said it had been an enjoyable evening.
“The evening was extremely well organised and I send my congratulations to the staff at the Banbridge Leader for a job well done. We heard some examples of forward-looking local businesses who are taking bold steps in planning for the future.”