Teesdale Business Awards: Double delight for lockdown legends
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
THERE was double delight for staff and volunteers at a Barnard Castle community centre when they bagged two trophies at the Teesdale Business Awards (TBA).
The TCR Hub, in Shaw Bank, received the award for best community engagement, while all those connected to the centre were judged Legends of Lockdown for their efforts to help those most in need during the pandemic.
When Covid hit in March 2020, the TCR Hub set up Teesdale care packages, distributing surplus food and goods to those isolating or in need.
Rachel Tweddle, TCR Hub chief executive paid tribute to her “amazing” team of staff, trustees and volunteers.
“These two awards will be displayed with pride in your community hub,” she said.
“2020 and 2021 were without a doubt the toughest of years for us and as a charity, we’d already had some tricky times.
“There were lots and lots of tears, heaps of late and sleepless nights, tonnes of worry and uncertainty but we got through.
“We got through with the most amazing team of staff, trustees and volunteers who stuck together to support our community when they needed it most.”
In all, 12 winners were announced at the Teesdale Business Awards, which were this year moved online rather than staged at The Witham, with a video produced by one of the winners – Chris Howell, of Howell Film, who won best entrepreneur.
The awards were again hosted by business advisor John Atkinson and voice-over artist and businesswoman Emma Hignett.
Mr Atkinson said the online version of the awards was just one way in which Covid had cast a shadow over everyone’s lives.
“These are challenging times for the business community,” he said.
“What has been shown is the ability of many to innovate and change the way they operate and continue running through unprecedented times.”
Ms Hignett added: “This is still a celebration of Teesdale’s finest and it is important we shout as loud as we can about all the finalists and winners.”
With over 150 nominations, the biennial celebration recognises the best of Teesdale businesses, social enterprises and individuals that have been successful in their own field of activity.
The awards focus on everything from new and emerging businesses, to established enterprises, those which are expanding and others trading beyond the Teesdale area.
The apprentices and entrepreneurs who are destined for great things in the future are also recognised.
TBA co-ordinator Emma King said although it had been a difficult decision it had been right to take the awards online this year.
“Our view was that a large-scale event the size of the TBA ceremony required a slightly calmer and more stable, post-Covid environment, particularly as networking is an important part of the evening.
“Having made that decision, together with our media partners Howell Film, we believe we have created a high-quality film of the award results.
“Hopefully, it will be a long-lasting showcase of some of the best of Teesdale business.”
Fellow organiser Peter Dixon added: “With this experience behind us we will definitely be looking to incorporate film into our future award ceremonies.
“The awards themselves once again highlighted the extensive and varied high quality organisations and managers, employees and volunteers operating in Teesdale.
The area certainly punches well above its weight.”
He said it was encouraging to see nominations for businesses both new to the awards and from a wider area within Teesdale, which extends from Harwood, in the upper dale, across to Hamsterley, through West Auckland, down to Gainford and across to Barningham.
Among those celebrating success was previous four-time finalist and one of this year’s sponsors, Chocolate Fayre, who were recognised as the best business trading outside Teesdale.
The judges commended them for their clear strategic business case and how they sought to diversify their business during the last two years. Creativity was also recognised with Natural Beeswax Products winning most innovative business and the Hand Crafter’s Hub, which was launched just last year, receiving the best new business for providing a unique avenue for local artisans to present and sell their products.
And the winners ARE:
Apprentice of the Year: Morgan Kasiera, GSK (pictured below); Entrepreneur of the Year: Chris Howell, Howell Film; Social Responsibility: Teesdale Renewables; Best Community Engagement: TCR Hub; Most Innovative Business: Natural Beeswax Products; Legends of Lockdown: TCR Hub; Best Business Trading Outside Teesdale: Chocolate Fayre; Growth Business of the Year: Teesdale Cheesemakers; Best Customer Focus: Reboot Repairs and Design; Best Social Enterprise: YMCA Community Cafe, Cockfield; Best New Business: Hand Crafter’s Hub; Best Business: Blossom Home Care.