A number of leading figures from Lancashire’s business community have been unveiled on the judging panels for one of the county’s leading awards.

The Be Inspired Business Awards, the BIBAs, has hand-picked judges from a range of industries across the county to select the winners of the 18 prizes it will hand out at a ceremony in September.

Adam Armstrong, transformation leader for global creative agency Saatchi and Saatchi, will head up the panel for the prestigious Business of the Year prize alongside former BIBAs winner Norman Tenray, of Longridge builders’ merchant, OBAS UK, and Abbey Telecom managing director, Tony Raynor.

Other former BIBAs winners among the judges include Kirsty Henshaw, the entrepreneur behind food range, Kirsty’s, Ghostbikes.com managing director Adam Patel, and Caroline Chesworth, who founded educational franchise, Mad Science North West.

The competition closed for applications last week with entries flooding in from all four corners of the county bidding to win the awards dubbed ‘the one they all want to win’.

Tomorrow, all judges will undergo a rigorous training programme with experts at Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) ahead of the first round of interviews which take place next month.

Professor Ellie Hamilton, associate dean at LUMS, said: “We know that all businesses entering the BIBAs put their hearts and soul in to completing their entries, so we want to ensure the judges are ready to match their dedication and enthusiasm.

“The programme of training we have developed is based a research project carried out by LUMS to bench-mark the awards against other similar awards both here in Lancashire and across the world.

“This showed us the best practice which is required to set the BIBAs apart and ensuring judges are asking the right questions is a key part of that.”

Preston’s College principal Lis Smith will chair the Employer of the Year judging panel with Andrew Stringer, manager of the St George’s Shopping Centre in Preston, on the Excellence in Customer Service Business of the Year panel.

Lytham businessman Denys Smith-Hart is heading the panel for a new category, Best Use of IT, and the panel which will select the winner of another new prize, Best Use of Creativity in Business, will be chaired by Mark Oulsen-Jenkins of RTR Digital based in Burnley.

All applications to the BIBAs are now being checked to ensure they are eligible to enter and scored against criteria which will produce a shortlist of up to 12 entrants who will go forward to the first round of interviews.

They begin when the judging panel for the Manufacturer of the Year will meet at the Chamber’s office in Blackpool on May 11 to begin a 10-day programme which will produce between six and eight finalists for each category.

From June 8, the judging panels will then go ‘on tour’ for a second round of judging which will take place at the finalists’ business premises.