WHEN a Haslingden butcher was announced as the most innovative business he received a standing ovation from the borough’s Mayor. Councillor Ann Kenyon, and the rest of the audience at the ninth Rossendale Business Awards, applauded Darren Law of DT Law butchers for his innovation and ambition. At a packed function hall at The Riverside, Whitworth, Darren was awarded the top Valley at Work Award, a beautiful glass trophy engraved by Alexis Valentine of Walking on Glass with scenes depicting The Boo to celebrate the Horse and Bamboo Theatre’s 40th anniversary.
More than 200 businesses, sponsors and supporters were in attendance. Darren dedicated his win to his late father and said: “I am so proud. My dad would be so proud too if he was still here. He loaned me the money in the first place to buy his shop in Blackburn Road; I also paid him back.”
The business, which has expanded into a bakery and deli and has an online service, serves 2,500 customers a week. He said: “I have no idea who nominated us and I found it hard to really tell my story on the application form. I come from council estate in Bacup with nothing and I have worked my way up. I have always wanted to work by myself and progress in life and you get to a certain point and think lets go to the next league.”
That next league involved buying next door, knocking through and expanding the business. He not only won the top award, he also netted the Business of the Year trophy for companies employing more than 11 staff. He is now planning to celebrate the success by refurbishing the shop and his collection of trophies will be back on display at The Riverside when he has a stall at the Christmas Fair.
It was an evening of celebration and a cheer went up when Anna’s Café Bar, in Weir, won the Invest In Rossendale title. Anna Preece took to bold decision to invest in an empty shop and provide a hub that the whole community has embraced.
Whitworth Mayor Madeline de Souza said: “We all know Rossendale is a lovely place to live, work and visit. We have towns and villages and a community second to none. We have niche businesses and not for profit organisations that contribute an enormously to the Valley and a thriving Valley means thriving businesses.”
Describing the event as fantastic Rossendale’s Mayor Coun Kenyon urged everyone to do more to encourage enterprise in young people.
The awards are organised by Valley at Work and Chair Rob Carder said this year’s had the highest number of nominations.
He told the audience: “There are 2,600 businesses in Rossendale and 118 were nominated, more than 40 were selected as finalists and that means you are among the top two per cent.”
This year the Rossendale Free Press award for corporate social responsibility was linked with the Rossendale Hospice Business Challenge. Businesses were given £50 and asked to make it grow, using their skills. The money raised by the six participating businesses, along with a raffle on the awards night, raised nearly £6,000 for Rossendale Hospice.
Half-time entertainment was provided by young members of Dansworks Dance Academy in Bacup.
Story by Catherine Smyth