LEARNING from your mistakes is all part of becoming a better business, the founder of Kimbolton Fireworks, Reverend Ron Lancaster, told guests at The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business Awards networking event on Thursday (June 27).

Ron Lancaster, told guests at The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business Awards networking event on Thursday (June 27).

Rev Lancaster told a 50-strong audience at the Huntingdon Marriott of the humble beginnings of the world-renowned firm and its journey through to the company's involvement in last year's London Olympics.

The company started in 1964 after Rev Lancaster, a chaplain and chemistry teacher at Kimbolton School, approached the school's headteacher.

He said: "It started commercially when St Neots Carnival asked whether we could provide fireworks as their supplier was too expensive for them.

"At the time there were displays in November and at the end of the year.

"It was quite easy to manufacture as we had the summer holidays to work in and a little bit towards the end of the year."

Rev Lancaster said because the company's profits went into the bank, they were able to pay for their new factory at Stonely when his son Mark Lancaster, now MP for Milton Keynes, suggested the expansion.

The 82-year-old said that the company had its share of complaints, ranging from a woman whose cardigan was burnt by falling fireworks to a river boat being burnt on the Thames. The compensation cost was split between Kimbolton and the Port of London Authority and since then the company has inspected its contracts closely for liability.

Rev Lancaster said that it was one of the firm's largest payouts and he had learned from it, a crucial skill for new businesses wanting to grow.

Sarah Scott, events and exhibitions manager for Archant, the company which owns The Hunts Post, talked the audience through submitting an award-winning entry.

Huntingdon Marriott general manager Andreas Baer told guests what the awards meant for a business in Huntingdonshire and signalled his intention to enter three awards this year.

The evening was capped off by a 'mocktail' making exercise where groups made, named and marketed an alcohol-free cocktail.

The task was won by The Punter's Toast group consisting of Luminus's Simon Leher, Richard Coombs of Jambula Interior Products, Simon Wardle of Eldraw, Ralph Maloney from Business Networking Cambs and Stan Taylor of 3 Dimensions Limited.