The winners of one of Lancashire’s biggest business awards will have truly earned its iconic trophy, according to one of its leading judges.

Dr Caroline Chesworth, founder of education franchise Mad Science North West, was part of the Entrepreneur of the Year judging panel which visited finalists in the running for the Be Inspired Business Awards, the BIBAs.

It was part of a second round of judging which all nominees will take part in having already passed an initial face-to-face interview to make the cut.

Dr Chesworth, a former BIBAs winner, said the visits she and fellow judges paid to individuals recently had given her “a unique insight” in to the success of the candidates and their businesses.

She said: “We had already analysed their applications and then met every candidate in the first round of interviews, so we knew as much as we could going in to the ‘on tour’ round of judging.

“But, there is no doubt the visits added to our understanding of what made our candidates so special, and meeting their employees and seeing their businesses added to our understanding.

“As someone who has been in front of a BIBAs judging panel, I can say without doubt that those people who win this year’s awards have truly earned the honour.”

Mad Science is sponsoring the awards’ judges ‘on tour’ interviews which come to an end on Thursday, July 2, when the panel picking the prestigious Business of the Year winner visit finalists.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, July 1), the judges for the Leisure Business of the Year panel will meet businesses led by Neil Mason, commercial director at CommunicorpUK, which runs North West radio station, Smooth Radio North West.

The panel will visit finalists including the Preston Marriott Hotel in Broughton, Blackpool Zoo and Little Gargoyle, the entertainment firm from Lancaster which runs murder mystery evenings.

Mr Mason said: “A great leisure business is one which is able to mix creativity with great customer service and we have already seen Lancashire has these in abundance.

“Picking our shortlists to make the first round of interviews was difficult enough, choosing our finalists was even tougher and I have no doubt selecting a winner will be even harder still.

“By visiting businesses as part of the BIBAs on tour round of judging, I hope we will get an insight in to what makes them tick.”

All winners will be unveiled at a prize-giving ceremony held at the iconic Blackpool Tower on Friday, September 11.

A lifetime achievement award, Lancastrian of the Year, will also be handed out on the night, selected by a panel of the prize’s former winners.