The annual awards dinner, the first event to be hosted in the Crowne Plaza Newcastle’s newly refurbished Boiler Shop, was held in partnership with the North East LEP and is the highlight of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s calendar of events. The group is made up of more than 300 leaders of high-growth North East businesses, who employ over 23,000 people and have a collective turnover of in excess of £2.3 billion.
The evening was hosted by comedian Jason Cook, creator and star of the hit BBC2 comedy Hebburn, and the after-dinner speech was given by adventurer Jamie Mc Donald.
John Waterworth, chief executive of Gosforth-based Parkdean Resorts was named Entrepreneur of the Year, a much coveted accolade sponsored by Ward Hadaway. During the last 12 months John has created the first truly nationwide holiday park business following a near £1bn merger with Park Resorts in November and an acquisition in July. With a turnover of £401m, Parkdean Resorts was recently ranked 29th in the Sunday Times Grant Thronton Top Track 250.
James Robson of business advisory firm Alexander Jewitt & Co., was named Mentor of the Year. James is chairman of chemical processing firm Exwold and a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum board. The organisation holds regular mentoring sessions to help business owners grow their companies by passing on advice and experience.
John Savage, managing director of growing North East trade retailers Flame Heating Spares, was presented with the Emerging Talent Award. The rapidly growing firm has five branches across the region after just four years of trading; and has hugely ambitious growth plans. The award, sponsored by United Carlton, is presented to an Entrepreneur who has been in business for six years or less.
John Fenwick of Fenwicks Ltd, was presented with the Lifetime Award. He stepped down as deputy chairman of the company in 2013 after 50 years with the business. John Fenwick is often regarded as the man behind the growth of the UK’s largest independent department store group and hailed as the genius behind the much heralded flagship Newcastle store’s Christmas window displays.
Entrepreneurs’ Forum chairman Nigel Mills said: “High-growth businesses are providing the jobs and prosperity that our region needs. We present these awards not only to recognise success, but to thank entrepreneurs who help others to build their businesses. By working together and sharing the benefits of our collective experience, we continue to make business a force for social good in the North East.”
John Waterworth said: “I’m proud of what we have built. I have a wonderful group of people who have helped me grow the business. We’ve got an expanding team, in the hundreds, having started from five people in Newcastle. I’ve also had a number of great mentors.”
James Robson said: “I strongly believe in supporting other entrepreneurs. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy and to be recognised as Mentor of the Year by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum is a significant personal achievement. I would encourage individuals in business to support start-ups and aspirational business leaders to enable the economy to grow and create employment in the North East.”
John Savage said: “It has been another record year for Flame, which wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my colleagues, our loyal trade partners and customers. I am extremely proud to have been recognised within the North East business community, which was unexpected, and I would like to thank the Entrepreneurs’ Forum for presenting me with this award.”
John Fenwick said: “Thank you North East Entrepreneurs for having presented me with the Lifetime Achievement Award. It would not have been possible without the wonderful team of staff I lead. I am flattered.”