Eden Project co-founder and Lost Gardens of Heligan pioneer, Sir Tim Smit, has been honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award for putting Cornwall on the global stage at last night’s Western Morning News Business Awards.
Business leaders from across the region came together last night to celebrate the very best of enterprise, innovation and endeavour at the ceremony, held at St Mellion in Cornwall.
While Devon luxury yacht maker Princess Yachts was named Business of the Year at the Western Morning News Business Awards, Cornish firms and businessmen and women held their own and took home a flurry of awards.
Sir Tim Smit in the tropical biome at the Eden Project
Sir Tim Smit took the honour of the Lifetime Achievement Award for putting Cornwall on the global stage.
In a recorded message, Sir Tim said: “It’s a tremendous honour to be given a Lifetime Achievement Award though it rather feels like you’re sliding off the edge – but what better place to get it than with a home gang.
“Thanks to the Western Morning News and all its readers for continued support for Eden, because without you, we would not exist.”
The gong for Princess Yachts tops a prosperous year for the manufacturer that is proudly crafted in Plymouth.
In September, Princess Yachts announced that its order book hit a record £640million as it embarks on £100million, five-year investment programme to support ambitious product launch and business development strategies.
The Plymouth firm said it was feeling particularly buoyant after the boat show season, which saw its yachts wow at the Cannes Yachting Festival, the largest boat show in Europe.
The annual WMN Business Awards recognise businesses large and small covering all aspects of enterprise from manufacturers, exporters to start-ups and tech firms.
Bill Martin, editor of the Western Morning News, compered the WMN Business Awards held at St Mellion last night (Image: John Allen)
Prime Minister Theresa May sent a message to the finalists, thanking them for the contribution they make to the regional economy.
She said: “From the tech companies embracing cutting-edge software development and e-learning, to food and drink producers coming up with new ways to promote the area’s outstanding produce and culinary heritage, it’s clear to see that the South West has much to offer across a variety of sectors.
“And as the awards’ wide-reaching category ranges show, it’s just as important to celebrate the achievements of micro businesses and family firms as those of larger enterprises flying the flag for British goods and services abroad.”
The awards were this year sponsored by the Pennon Group with support from category sponsors Browne Jacobson, City College Plymouth, Cornwall College Business, Foot Anstey, Stonehaven Care Group, Tamar Telecommunications, Thomas Westcott Chartered Accountants and Optimus Performance Marketing.
Pennon Group is a key partner in the Western Morning News #BackTheSouthWest campaign, committed to keeping the region high on the Government agenda for investment while providing a unified voice for the business community.
The WMN Business Awards held at St Mellion last night (Image: John Allen)
Sarah Heald, director of corporate affairs and investor relations at Pennon Group, said: “The event is a great showcase for the successes of individual businesses and provides an important opportunity to celebrate our collective power as the South West’s business community.
“Each business, large and small, has a part to play in shaping the future of this great region.
“Let’s not shy away from shouting loudly and proudly about everything our wonderful region has to offer. Let’s raise a glass to regional prosperity and toast to future success.”
Bill Martin, editor of the Western Morning News, praised all the winners and shortlisted firms.
He said: “This year’s entries were again outstanding illustrating that, despite the challenges of the environment we work in, there’s a real appetite for excellence in the region – and real desire to let the rest of the country know.
“There is a thirst for creativity, innovation and quality in the Great South West.
“The Great South West celebrate all of you– and the region will continue to make its voice heard to ensure that we all, and the powers that be, really do Back the South West.”
Sir Tim Smit, the pioneer behind the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project, is the winner of the Western Morning News Lifetime Achievement Award.
He was praised for leadership which has helped transform the economy in not just Cornwall but the whole of the South West.
Sir Tim, who could not make last night’s ceremony in person, thanked the Western Morning News and its readers in a recorded acceptance speech: “The single most important thing I have ever read in my life was the day that the Western Morning News had the headline Our Eden. That meant everything to me,” he said.
Sir Tim came to Cornwall in 1987 after a decade in the music industry and together with John Nelson ‘discovered’ and then restored the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
Following that success, he pioneered the Award winning Eden Project near St Austell in Cornwall.
It began as a dream in 1995 to transform a sterile quarry into a beacon of the natural world and good citizenship.
Since opening in 2001, it has attracted more than 18 million visitors and inspired an economic renaissance in Cornwall by contributing more than £1.7 billion to the local economy.
Appointed an honorary Knight in 2011, Sir Tim continues to spread Eden’s message far and wide with plans for Cornwall to become a world leader in agronomy and horticulture.
Among the friends and colleagues paying tribute was Jo Elworthy, director of interpretation at the Eden Project.
She said: “Tim has put the South West on the map globally and I think most important he has raised the aspirations for the people in Cornwall.”
Congratulating her father, Laura Chesterfield said: “Dad, this is such an amazing award for you. I think the term lifetime achievement award is something you won’t really enjoy because you have still got lots you want to achieve in your lifetime that I’m sure you will achieve, but for what you have achieved so far we are immensely proud of you. We love you lots.”
BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
sponsored by Pennon Group Plc
This goes to a profitable, growing business that has a positive impact on the Westcountry’s economy as a whole.
Winner: Princess Yachts, Plymouth
Highly Commended: Headforwards Solutions Ltd, Redruth
Finalist: Iotec, Plymouth
Finalist: Provenance Brands/Warrens Bakery, Helston
YOUNG BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR
sponsored by Cornwall College Business
This award goes to a young entrepreneurs aged 30 and under (as of November 2016) who has shown flair, resilience and wisdom beyond their years.
Winner: Chris Rundle: GK Signs, Exeter
Finalist: Jon Catney: Origin Tickets
Finalist: Gavin Jones: Elixel, Plymouth
Finalist: Miles Noble: Altitude Design, Plymouth
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
sponsored by Browne Jacobson
This award goes to a businessman who has made a considerable, profitable and lasting contribution.
Sir Tim Smit
SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
sponsored by Tamar Telecommunications
This award recognises the small business that has maintained consistent growth and
Winner: Folk2Folk, Launceston
Finalist: Salcombe Distilling Co, Salcombe
Finalist: Splash Projects Ltd, Exmouth
CUSTOMER SERVICE AWARD
This award is made to the company that has demonstrated a commitment to
Winner: Kings Service Centre, Newquay
Highly Commended: Mish Retail Ltd, Wadebridge
Finalist: Bluebird Care East Devon, Exeter and Exmouth
FAMILY BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
sponsored by Thomas Westcott
This goes to a business, established by a family and still run by members, and operating for at least five years.
Winner: Microtest, Bodmin
Finalist: Kernow Chocolate, Wadebridge
Finalist: Stonehaven Care Group, Ashburton
RETAILER OF THE YEAR
sponsored by Optimus Performance Marketing
This award goes to the company that best demonstrates that they are at the heart of both rural and inner urban life.
Winner: Any Old Lights, Fowey
Finalist: Chartman Ltd, Exeter
Finalist: Great Cornish Food Store Ltd, Truro
BEST TECHNOLOGICAL OR CREATIVE BUSINESS
The judges were looking for an outstanding business producing cutting-edge creative media and/or technology.
Winner: Iotec, Plymouth
Finalist: Headforwards Solutions Ltd, Redruth
Finalist: Sponge UK, Plymouth
BEST BUSINESS START UP
This accolade is awarded to a businesss doing great things that was set up between 2015 and 2016.
Winner: Island Fish Ltd, Bryher
Finalist: Aquamarine Media, Exeter
Finalist: Salcombe Distilling Co., Salcombe
Finalist: TruVision VR, Plymouth
MANUFACTURER OF THE YEAR
sponsored by City College Plymouth
The ‘Made in Britain’ stamp has always been a mark of quality and this award recognises the South West business that is making great things.
Winner: Princess Yachts, Plymouth
Finalist: Kensa Heat Pumps, Truro
Finalist: The Wrigley Company , Plymouth
BEST COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTION
sponsored by Stonehaven Care Group
This award goes to the charity or social enterprises that has achieved business success but whose primary aim is non-profit making.
Winner: Cosmic, Honiton
Highly commended: Tamar Grow Local CIC, Callington
Finalist: The Daisy Garland, Totnes
Finalist: Smile Together Dental CIC, Truro
This award goes to an organisation that has communicated effectively with its target audience over the past year.
Winner: St Austell Brewery, St Austell
Highly Commended: Thomas Westcott Chartered Accountants, Exeter
Finalist: Devon Colleges Group
Finalist: Princess Yachts, Plymouth
MICRO BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
Our Micro Business of the Year is a company of 2-9 people that has demonstrated strong revenue growth and a product or service of a quality that stands above competitors.
Winner: Elixel, Plymouth
Finalist: Educated Recruitment, Newton Abbot
Finalist: Scattering Ashes, Newton Abbot
EXPORTER OF THE YEAR
With Brexit on the horizon, overseas growth is more important than ever before. This award recognises a company that has achieved notable success in international sales.
Winner: Favis of Salcombe, Salcombe
Finalist: Partech Instruments, St Austell
Finalist: Provenance Brands, Helston
Source: Cornwall Live