BIGGER and better than ever before ...
The stars among Wearside companies were honoured at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Business Awards 2011 in a packed ceremony at the Stadium of Light.
This year’s awards attracted more entries than ever, with some familiar faces rubbing shoulders with firms who were making their debut appearance.
The big winner of the night was Nissan, which was named overall Business of the Year and also picked up the Manufacturer of the Year and Large Business – more than 50 employees awards categories.
Thompson Building Centres boss Anne Ganley also had a good night – receiving the Outstanding Contribution to the City Award from City of Sunderland Council and seeing daughter Gemma’s Love Lily Cakes named Young Business of the Year.
Entertainment at last night’s ceremony came courtesy of compere Ray Spencer and guest speaker, former BBC man Alan Wright.
Welcoming guests, Echo editor Rob Lawson outlined the reason for the awards.
“As in recent years, we don’t meet in the best of times. Fears of major cuts and job losses continue to haunt both the public and private sectors. Sunderland’s dole queue is the longest it has been for 18 months.
“It is not all doom and gloom, however and it is important to remember that. Jobs are still being created on Wearside and in East Durham and I have to say my fellow judges and I have been inspired and energised by the local firms we had the privilege to visit during the judging process.
“It has been a real challenge choosing winners but I know the judges agree with me when I say we were overwhelmed by the passion and enthusiasm of the businesses we visited.”
Council deputy leader Coun Harry Trueman highlighted some of the positive developments the area has seen in recent months, such as Lear’s investment at Rainton Bridge and the new software centre being built at Tavistock Place.
“In spite of the challenging economic climate, it’s clear the private and public sectors continue to invest in Sunderland, creating new jobs and helping the city weather the economic storms and prepare for future growth,” he said.
“The Portfolio Awards have a valuable role to play in supporting this process because, by publicly celebrating business success, we can inspire tomorrow’s entrepreneurs
“With lots of hard work, self-belief and the right support, we can work in partnership to transform their vision into reality”