A glittering awards ceremony has honoured the best in business on a night of emotion.
The Hartlepool Business Awards were held last night with the champions of industry receiving honours at the Borough Hall.
The best of a hugely impressive field of contestants were J&B Recycling who collected the title of Hartlepool Business of the Year.
Company managing director Vikki Jackson-Smith said: “I am delighted but it’s a real surprise. There are some really good companies in this town and to win the title is a great honour.”
It’s a double boost for the company which won the same title in 2011.
And as well as Business of the Year, the town recycling firm also won the Service Sector crown this time.
Nine other firms also collected honours in categories including tourism and leisure, manufacturer of the year, innovation and technology and most promising new business.
Each collected trophies in front of a sellout audience of around 370 people, on a night when the town’s industry was shown to be flourishing.
But there was poignancy as well last night as it was the last event for awards organiser John Megson.
He announced recently that he was stepping down from his roles as the co-ordinator of both the Hartlepool Business Awards and the Hartlepool Business Forum.
He told how his “swansong event” had been the most impressive in the six years he had been involved in it.
Speaking at the end of a hugely enjoyable evening, he praised the “diversity and tenacity of the economy of Hartlepool.”
Mr Megson had particular praise for fledgling firms which had taken the time to enter the competition.
Mr Megson said: “It was pleasing to see a record number of entries with new businesses participating and winning their category.”
He highlighted Artistic Solutions which “provided a wow factor” by putting together the staging and lighting.
The night’s activities started with a video prepared by Gary Kester from Hartlepool College of Further Education.
The video was a reflection on the success of last year’s Olympic Games and the impact it had on the country.
Mr Megson said success in the sporting arena were not the only ones the UK had enjoyed in 2012.
He said: “There were not only athletic successes during 2012 but also business successes without which the Games would not have been the success they were.”
He said many Hartlepool businesses “also deserved winners medals.”
Guest of honour was Stephanie McGovern, the Breakfast Business presenter from the BBC.
Mr Megson thanked her and said she “added greatly to the evening” by presenting the awards and also “providing an interesting address.”
• See Friday’s Hartlepool Mail for more pictures from the event.
Retailer of the Year - Mobeus Jewellers.
Service Sector - J & B Recycling.
Manufacturer of the Year - Hart Biologicals Ltd.
Most Promising New Business - Acorn Landscapes North East Ltd.
Exporter of the Year - Hart Biologicals Ltd.
Community - Hartlepool Art Studio Ltd.
Investment in Training - Specsavers Opticians.
Innovation & Technology - Durable Technologies Ltd.
Tourism & Leisure - Farrars Restaurant.
Business of the Year - J & B Recycling.