THE cream of Bolton business has been honoured for companies' contributions at this year’s Bolton News Business Awards.

Firms from all over the borough gathered at the Bolton Whites Hotel to a ceremony opened by The Bolton News editor Richard Duggan and hosted by comedian Shazia Mirza, familiar to many from her TV appearances and newspaper columns.

As the ceremony began Bolton Council leader Nick Peel acknowledged the challenges faced by the town centre in particular but said the success of the night’s winners showed the town as “open for business.”

Cllr Peel said: “There is so many exciting things happening in Bolton, much more than I can cover in the short time I have with you tonight.

“So, if I could leave you with one message it would be this, come and talk to us.

“Talk to us about our regeneration projects, talk to us about the support Business Bolton can offer and talk to us about how you can help us shape Bolton’s bright future.”

Amid a night of winners, one of the most significant awards, Company of the Year, was given to Howorth Air Tech.

Managing director Jim Liptrot said: “It’s hard to put into words what it means.

“In 2017 I met representatives from Bolton Council and they hadn’t heard of Howorth Air Tech. Everyone’s heard of Howorth Air Tech now.”

He added: “The impact we make in Bolton is extremely important and we want to set the example to any company about how you run a good company.

“And this award is a validation of everything that we stand for.”

A lifetime achievement award was handed out to Steve Harvey of Vertu Motors.

He said: “That’s a lifetime achievement, that comes from 1963, that’s when it started for me.

“People can learn consistency, there’s a lot of people in our trade, absolutely brilliant.”

The Social Enterprise Award went to Box Power CIC. Corin Dalby, CEO, said: “It just inspires us to try to do more really, it gives us that encouragement to try and do the right things.”

Another company to be honoured was Party and Play Funhouse, which was awarded the Environmental and Sustainability Award.

Owner and MD Catalina Sastre-Done said: “I’m overwhelmed I’m just glad we’ve been recognised for what we do and I hope we can be a role model to other companies to reach the Net Zero goal.

“We’re trying to halve our emissions by 2040 and I think we’re going to do that!”

A full breakdown of winners and a rundown of the night will be published in a special supplement on Thursday.