Tom Keighley

Member Article

Business forum honours regions top performers

Chirton Engineering Ltd are celebrating after receiving the Business Of The Year at North Tyneside Business Forum Awards, on Tuesday night.

Owner, Peter Stewart, collected the award from Andrew Hodgson, CEO of SMD Ltd and vice chair of the North East LEP.

Mr Stewart, said the award came as a surprise to him, but thanked the hard work of staff at Chirton Engineering, and called upon other businesses at the get behind the training of young people, in order to grow the regional engineering and manufacturing sectors.

His comments echoed, Mr Hodgson’s speech, ahead of presenting the award, which outlined some of the key focus for the North East LEP.

Mr Hodgson said: “We have two key issues in the North East that we need to do something about. One is that we have the highest unemployment rate in the country, and that is a travesty.

“The other, some may disagree with me on, but we have a major skills shortage, as only a fraction of our youngsters are gaining STEM skills - we need to convince our young people that such careers are worthwhile.

“It’s easy to sit on the side lines and criticise, but I urge you as businesses to get behind what we are doing with the LEP.”

He went on to show his admiration for all the businesses present, saying that current conditions were difficult and to run a successful business at such a time was to be applauded.

The awards five other categories, including best service sector business, best manufacturing business, best retailer, best start-up and young entrepreneur.

Each of the nominees were introduced by behind the scenes video packages that were created by students from Marden High School in conjunction with Big River Films.

In a strong field of entries for the young entrepreneur title, Custom Planet were named winners.

The screen printing and promotional product business was started by Andy Dark & John Armstrong in 2008, straight out of university.

They have since grown into a company with £250,000 turnover and seven employees, and supply big businesses such as Proctor & Gamble, and Northern Rock.

Andy Dark thanked staff at Custom Planet, and outlined their plans to grow the business through apprenticeships and training of young people.

Previous winner of the young entrepreneur award, Nicky Gray gave a talk on her experience in setting up businesses in the region, including childrens’ hairdressers Fidgets, and play centre ‘Kikis’ Kabin.’

She said it was important to engage young people with the idea of entrepreneurship as a future, and was keen to ensure this message got into schools.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Tom Keighley .

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