Bingo! Tombola boss is voted the North East’s top entrepreneur

Phil Cronin collects his award from Lorna Moran, vice chairman of the Entrepreneurs Forum.
Phil Cronin collects his award from Lorna Moran, vice chairman of the Entrepreneurs Forum.
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THE North East’s top entrepreneur is from Wearside – for the second year running.

Phil Cronin, chief executive of Sunderland-based online bingo operator Tombola, has been named Entrepreneurs’ Forum Entrepreneur of the Year 2011.

He takes over from Thompson’s Building Centres boss Anne Ganley, who was honoured at last year’s gala dinner.

Phil had to miss this year’s event as he was away on business in Spain but he nominated former Storeys Carpets boss Simon Heptinsatall to collect the award from Anne on his behalf and sent a recorded message to say he was “unbelievably flattered and absolutely thrilled” to win the award.

“We are very proud of what we have done,” he added.

“So far, our success has been in the UK. With luck, good ideas and good people we have got a good chance of making it a success in new markets.”

Tombola is shirt sponsor of Sunderland AFC and ITV soap Emmerdale and is not new to awards having picked up the 2010 Bingo Operator of the Year and Online Bingo Operator of the Year awards last year.

Anne Ganley was delighted to have kept the award on Wearside.

“I was utterly speechless to receive the Entrepreneur of the Year title last year and was so proud to have been chosen to receive it by business people I really admire,” she said.

“I’ve had a great year and on one hand it was tough to hand it over, but I was delighted that the winner was Phil. He has established another fantastic business for Sunderland and is really helping to put the city on the map.

“The award itself was magnificent and another example of the brilliant talent we have in Sunderland.”

Cast in handmade 30 per cent lead crystal glass from Auckland, in New Zealand, the award was made at Sunderland’s National Glass Centre in the form of a head, to represent forward thinking, self knowledge and as the centre of creativity, ideas and vision.