Gallery: George at Buckden is Huntingdonshire Business of the Year 2008

THE pinnacle of a year of crowning glory for Anne Furbank arrived this evening (Friday) when her George Hotel and Brasserie in Buckden became The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business of the Year 2008. The award is sponsored by St Neots-based chartered acc

THE pinnacle of a year of crowning glory for Anne Furbank arrived this evening (Friday) when her George Hotel and Brasserie in Buckden became The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business of the Year 2008.

The award is sponsored by St Neots-based chartered accountants Streets Whitmarsh Sterland.

The George also won the Retailer of the Year Award, sponsored by another St Neots company, surveyors and property specialists D H Barford and Company, at the black-tie event at the Burgess Hall in St Ives this evening, compèred by BBC TV Look East presenter Stewart White.

The judges were impressed by the business's continued growth - up 14 per cent this year - the engrained customer service culture, management's encouragement of staff to add to their skills base, the directors' clear vision and the business's targeted marketing.

"The overall impression is of a well-polished business with a clear vision, managed to a high standard by people who care passionately about it," they added. "Strengths include design and ambience, quality of staff and push for high levels of customer satisfaction."

Mrs Furbank, 61, has recently competed successfully in the Berlin Marathon and won a national Entrepreneur of the Year award for women.

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The Young Enterprise Award went to Amethyst from Kimbolton School.

Small Business of the Year 2008 is The Nail Retreat, in St Ives, which has been trading for just a year and learned this week that it is also one of five finalists in a national sector competition. The award is sponsored by the Huntingdonshire branch of the Federation of Small Businesses.

The judges said: "The partners have worked together effectively to implement a shared vision based on market knowledge and the highest standards of customer care. They have shown exceptional attention to detail in a comprehensive business plan."

Business Person of the Year 2008 is Maxine Lester, who completed a hat-trick of awards, after taking the New Business Award in 2006 and the Business Development Award in 2007 with her St Ives-based residential lettings company. The award is sponsored by Huntingdonshire solicitors Leeds Day.

The judges said: "In a very competitive market Maxine's company has enjoyed significant market share growth achieved by this her leadership, communication and management skills. She has shown excellent strategic vision."

The Internet Award 2008 was seized by ISC Software Solutions, from Huntingdon, in a category sponsored by Huntingdonshire District Council.

In the words of the judging panel: "This website is a worthy winner because it is easy to use, has a clear and simple layout and has made a significant contribution to the development of the business in three different ways - enquirers can quickly and easily find information about the company and the software and services it provides; the website provides a central, rapid and efficient way for ISC colleagues to share information with each other and check progress on projects, keeping costs and time spent to a minimum; and clients have access online to a wide range of information and support as and when they need it."

Employer of the Year 2008, sponsored by the Luminus Group, is the Huntingdon Marriott Hotel, which the judges described as "a vast global business with well developed and sophisticated HR policies. They have lots of opportunities for promotion with daily doses of training and communication," the panel added..

The Innovation Award 2008, sponsored by the Greater Cambridge Partnership, went to Tensor PLC, from Hail Weston, has developed a fingerprint-reading system that can detect whorls, arches and loops through the oil, coal dust or other contaminants that defeat conventional fingerprint-recognition technology.

The judges said the company had "demonstrated a new and innovative product that is already having a positive impact on the organisation in terms of new business obtained, as well as a reduction in manufacturing costs. Their approach to innovation has been driven throughout the organisation with an ethos of research and development which remains a top priority for the organisation."

Corrine Garbett, of Huntingdonshire District Council, is Employee of the Year 2008, an award sponsored by Anglian Water.

The judges said: "We were impressed by the way in which Corrine has developed an effective economic development service over the last five years, growing it from less than one full-time person to a seven-person team.

"Not only is she effective in promoting the interests of Huntingdonshire companies across the region but she is skilful at influencing the district council in its support of the business sector."

The Training and Development Award 2008, sponsored by Huntingdonshire Regional College, went to Huntingdon's Vindis Audi, of which the judges said they "were impressed with the comprehensive training and development programme which builds on what they are required to do by Audi by adding local procedures that use modern techniques to develop their staff at all levels in the business".

New Business of the Year 2008, sponsored by Artisan (UK) Developments, was another success for The Nail Retreat. The judges said: "As a start up business, The Nail Retreat has set its objectives out clearly and concisely with a strong emphasis on delivering strong customer value."

They felt that the business had been developed on sound business principles with the management team seeking advice from a number of sources. "The testimony to the success of this business can be found within the comprehensive business plan, which has demonstrated a strong and detailed approach to marketing, finance and operational activities."

The Business Development Award 2008, sponsored by HSBC Bank, provided yet another accolade for Maxine Lester Residential Lettings, of which the judges said: "The winner of the Business Development Award has in her three years since starting the business in St Ives continued to exceed sales and profit forecasts. Her successful business model is now repeated with the opening of offices in Ely and Bury St Edmunds.

"Investment in the training and development of her staff to ensure they receive the highest qualifications exemplifies the professional approach to meeting clients' needs."

The Environment Agency sponsored the Environment and Community Award 2008, which went to Huntingdon County Squash Club, which the judges said had "developed a number of programmes aimed at total inclusion for all through engagement of local schools and community organisations".

For the second consecutive year, the judges, chaired by John Bridge, chief executive of Huntingdonshire Chamber of Commerce, made the Judges' Award for a company that, while not a category winner, nonetheless deserved special recognition. The 2008 winner was Tackwood Services, in St Neots. The judges said the company had demonstrated an incredible strength and desire to rebuild the business after disaster struck in February this year when its building and all its contents where destroyed by fire.

"The success Tackwood Services has achieved is a testament to the dedicated and motivated team of staff, suppliers and customers who have kept the business moving forward through 2008," the judges added.