The entrepreneur behind the regeneration of Preston city centre has been handed a lifetime achievement award by one of Lancashire’s leading business awards.

Simon Rigby, whose property empire includes the city’s Guild Hall, collected the Lancastrian of the Year award at the Be Inspired Business Awards, the BIBAs, in front of a sell-out crowd at The Blackpool Tower on Friday night.

The businessman, who was born in to a farming family on the Fylde, has a diverse business portfolio including green energy and care homes, and has been credited with the revival of the Preston Guild Hall and bought a number of other properties in the city including Five’s bar and the Guild Tower office block.

The night’s other winners included CoolKit, the Burnley refrigerated van specialist, picked up the Business of the Year and Manufacturer of the Year prizes, with Preston-based Sunshine Events also walking award with the Employer of the Year and Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility awards.

Francis Egan, chief executive at headline sponsor Cuadrilla Resources, said the calibre of finalists for the awards’ 18 prizes highlighted the depth of quality within Lancashire’s economy.

He said: “It as inspiring to see so many businesses and the individuals behind them being recognised for their enthusiasm, innovation and sheer hard work at the BIBAs.

“My congratulations go out to everyone who made it to The Blackpool Tower for another fantastic night, every one of them is playing a crucial role in ensuring the economy of Lancashire continues to thrive.

“With the mark of quality which being a BIBA winner brings, I have no doubt those who walked away with trophies will continue to deliver growth, jobs and investment for the county.”

Actor Nigel Havers was the host for the evening with pop stars Bryan McFadden and Keith Duffy, who were part of record-breaking boy bands Westlife and Boyzone, entertaining the crowd after the awards.

All the winners will now enter the BIBAs Academy, a package of workshops, masterclasses and networking run by the awards and the University of Central Lancashire, aimed at further boosting the growth of some of the county’s leading lights.

The other winners on the night include Chelsey-Marie Baldwin, the Blackpool-based former gymnast who was forced to retire from the sport aged just 17, and has gone on to set up her own academy teaching young people in South Shore.

She was supported in getting her business underway by a grant from the BIBAs Foundation, a charity set up by the awards which provides grants in support of enterprising initiatives by young people in the county.

Ashley Hackett  of the Blackpool FC Community Trust was the other individual winner picking up the Business Person of the Year award.

Chorley-based Scorpion Automotive was named Exporter of the Year, Lancaster’s Hotfoot Design picked up the Creative Business of the Year prize and Chorley lightning firm Fourth Wall Solutions was the winner of the New Business of the Year category.

 

THE WINNERS ARE…

Most Inspiring Young Person of the Year: Chelsey Marie Baldwin

Creative Business of the Year: Hotfoot Design  

Employer of the Year: Sunshine Events UK

Best Use of IT: Connect Childcare

Business Person of the Year: Ashley Hackett, Blackpool FC Community Trust

Exporter of the Year: Scorpion Automotive

Family Business of the Year: The Wayfarer

Professional Service Business of the Year: Thomas Consulting

Manufacturer of the Year: CoolKit

Excellence in CSR: Sunshine Events UK

Construction Business of the Year: Fox Brothers

Leisure Business of the Year: Winter Gardens Blackpool

Third Sector Business of the Year: CB Partners  

Service Business of the Year: Fairbanks Environmental

New Business of the Year: Fourth Wall Solutions

Micro Business of the Year: The 8th Sign

Small Business of the Year: Bespoke Healthcare

Medium Business of the Year: Hippo Motor Group

Business of the Year: CoolKit

Lancastrian of the Year: Simon Rigby