The district’s finest firms gathered at the Burgess Hall on Friday night for this year’s Hunts Post’s Huntingdonshire Business Awards.

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

The district’s finest firms gathered at the Burgess Hall on Friday night for this year’s Hunts Post’s Huntingdonshire Business Awards.

The annual event was once again packed with the cream of Huntingsdonshire commerce, with the ceremony compered by BBC Look East presenter Stewart White.

Judges from the district’s business world had the difficult task of deciding which of the finalists would walk away with an award in each of more than a dozen categories.

This year’s Business of the Year title was awarded to SF Engineering, of St Ives, which specialises in the design, manufactures and installation of high quality food production lines.

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

The firm was established in 1983 by managing director Seamus Farrell and has its origins in supplying the fish, meat and poultry sectors with process solutions.

The firm also scooped the Training and Development Award and boasts this year’s Employee of the Year, Martin Rose.

The Judges Award on the night was won by Zitko Consulting which, the judges, said had submitted an impressive application and demonstrated “clear strategic focus, team work and a great working environment”.

The judges said the Zitko leadership team were “clearly determined” to make the firm “a market leader in their niche sector”.

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

Daniel Mansfield, editor of The Hunts Post, said: “These awards, now in their 21st year, provide recognition for companies and individuals who are contributing to the business success, innovation, best practice and positive environmental and community impact in Huntingdonshire.

“They are, undoubtedly, the district’s leading awards for excellent business practice and have become hugely prestigious and highly valued, reflecting the achievement of winning companies.

“It is fantastic to see so many leading businesses paving the way on business excellence promoting Huntingdonshire to the rest of the business world.”

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

Apprentice of the Year supported by The Hunts Post

Melanie Le-Fort was crowned the district’s top apprentice after impressing the judging panel.

She said: “I have been telling myself all evening that I haven’t won because I didn’t want to get my hopes up. When they called out my name I was so shocked. I’m really happy that my hard work has been recognised.”

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

Business Person of the Year sponsored by Leeds Day

Tim Collett, of Cambridge Numerical Company, based in St Ives was handed the award.

He said: “It feels so good to win this award. Not only myself but my whole team have worked really hard over the past three years to make sure that we do the best that we can, and it’s amazing to be recognised. This award isn’t just for me, but the whole team as I couldn’t have done it without them.”

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

Business Development sponsored by George Hay Chartered Accountants

Huntingdon’s Cellbond took home the development award.

Judges said: “This company’s enthusiasm to be market leaders is awesome.

“They have invested heavily in both infrastructure and innovative solutions and have won major orders in an established and very niche market as a result.

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

“Their 30th anniversary technical conference attracted significant influencers from across the globe and is a testament to their achievements and ambition.”

Business in the Community sponsored by Le Mark Group

St Neots-based Switch Now CIC took home the award.

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

Catherine Fairhomm said: “I cannot believe it, I am just so stunned. We have worked so hard to make sure that we engage with the community and had no idea that we would win. All the staff work so hard and it’s really great to be recognised for what we have been doing.”

Small Business of the Year sponsored by St Ives Scaffolding Ltd

It was another success for Activinsights Ltd, of Kimbolton, following an excellent showing at last year’s award.

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

Richard Thomas, managing director, said: “It feels fantastic again to win an award and be recognised for what we do. We put so much effort into making sure that we do our best for the Huntingdonshire community and I am just really excited to see what we can do in the future.”

The Innovation Award sponsored by the Marriott Hotel Huntingdon

Huntingdon business Lil Packaging was selected by the judging panel.

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

Managing Director, Barry Lill, said: “It’s really nice to see us get recognised and is just so happy with winning the award. We are amazed at how far we have come and can wait to move forward and see what else we can achieve.”

Employer of the Year sponsored by the Luminus Group

Huntingdon’s Education Personnel Management scopped the Employer of the Year title.

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

Jen Elliot, chief executive, said: “We have been in Huntingdonshire for 25 years to be recognised for everything we do is really important to us. I think we are just looking forward continuing all of our hard work and being the best we can.”

Retailer of the Year sponsored by Brown and Co Barfords

St Ives-based Escape and Create was honoured with the retailer title.

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

Julie Miles, shop owner, said: “It feels really amazing to be awarded with this, we haven’t even been in business for a year yet so to win this is just amazing. We can’t wait to just keep doing what we are doing and expand.”

Training and Development sponsored by Alconbury Enterprise Campus

SF Engineering, of St Ives, was honoured for its work in training staff.

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

Richard Smith, general manager, said: “It feels fantastic to win this award; this is the first time that we have entered the awards. We try our hardest to develop people to the best that they can be, and we take a lot of time in training our staff, so to be able to win an award that recognises this is just great.”

Employee of the Year sponsored by Archant

SF Engineering’s Martin Rose said: I cannot believe that I have won. It is really good to be part of a team that support you and help you. I couldn’t of done it without them and I want to make sure they are recognised for all of their hard work too as they support me.”

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

New Business Award sponsored by Bright Business Advice

Bolts Industrial Engineering Services, of St Ives, scooped the new business gong.

Director Karl Jest said: “I’m absolutely buzzing. It feels amazing to be recognised for what we have achieved. I cannot believe that we have won and I hope that we can continue the good work around Huntingdonshire and hopefully continue to be recognised.”

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

Judges Award

St Neots firm Zitko Consulting Ltd was singled out by the judges for special recognition.

Emily Coates, senior consultant, said: “It feels really good to have won this award. We are really pleased and it feels fantastic that we can be recognised for all of our hard work. I wanted to thank the judges for picking us too, because it means a lot.”

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

Business of the Year sponsored by Huntingdonshire District Council

It was a hat-trick of awards for SF Engineering

Richard Smith said: “This is a massive surprise for us; I never thought we would win this. Not only that but to take home two awards it just feels surreal and I think it will take a long time to sink in. I just wanted to thank my team for everything they do.”

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS

The Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRISThe Hunts Post Business Awards 2018. Picture: ROB MORRIS