THE fifth annual Bolton and Bury Business Awards attracted about 500 local entrepreneurs to the De Vere Whites Hotel last night.

The glittering black-tie event was packed as the winners of 11 separate categories of awards, along with a surprise Special Achievement award, were announced by BBC North West Tonight weather presenter Dianne Oxberry.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Bolton, Cllr John Byrne and Mrs Lynda Byrne, along with the Mayor and Mayoress of Bury, Cllr John Byrne and Mrs Brenda Byrne, were guests of honour.

Other guests included Bolton Council chief executive Sean Harriss, Keith Davies, head of development and regeneration, and other Business Bolton officials.

The Special Achievement award went to Paul Davidson, chief executive officer of Bolton Business Ventures for his contribution to the local business scene.

Ian Settle, director of business and commercial banking for NatWest, presented the award to Mr Davidson.

He said: “Mr Davidson has the lifeblood of Bolton flowing through his organisation and millions of pounds worth of development have been brought to the area, securing thousands of jobs.

“The organisation was set up in 1983 when the town was facing a major decline and unemployment was 18 per cent. It stimulated employment and revitalised the local economy — and has continued its excellent work ever since.

“Mr Davidson has been an enterprise ambassador for Bolton and has been instrumental in the development and growth of several hundred businesses. He has worked closely with Bolton Council setting up starter units in the town.

“He also wears another hat as managing director of North Manchester Enterprise Group. But he is an unassuming man and when he was recently awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise, he was reluctant to tell anyone.”

Guests from many of Bolton and Bury’s major businesses were entertained by an after dinner speech from stadium designer Paul Fletcher.

Mr Fletcher, who played 400 times for Burnley, moved into stadium design when a knee injury ended his professional playing career.

He was managing director of the developers behind the Reebok Stadium and was also involved with the new Wembley stadium.

The Bolton News will carry a special Business Awards supplement on Tuesday next week giving full details of the events with exclusive stories and photographs of all the award winners.

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: From left, Chris Hughes, Newsquest North West regional managing director; Sean Harriss, Bolton Council chief executive; Cllr John Byrne, the Mayor of Bolton; Cllr John Byrne, the Mayor of Bury; and Ian Savage, editor in chief of The Bolton News and Bury Times group

The full list of award winners:

Start-Up Business of the Year

Sponsored by The Bolton News and Bury Times

Winner: Noggi’s Hair Dressing

Highly Commended: Simply Electricals

Commended: Meadowcroft Barn

SME Business of the Year

Sponsored by Wilds Accountants

Winner: Maytree Travel

Highly Commended: The Chinese Buffet

Commended: modus

Innovation, Design and Technology Award

Sponsored by the University of Bolton and the Imran Hakim group

Winner: Pennine Telecom Ltd

Highly Commended: Imerja Ltd

Commended: Wilson Cooke

Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Sponsored by Bolton School

Winner: Abdul Rahman, Bilal Poultry

Joint Commended: Oliver Kaminski, I Recruitment Services, and Alex Hutchinson, TBA

Customer Excellence Award

Sponsored by Clough & Willis, solicitors

Winner: Authorized Access

Highly Commended: Love Your Fit

Commended: Cahill Dental Centre

Schools Enterprise Award

Sponsored by Balfour Beatty Education

Winner: Smithills

Highly Commended: Philips High

Joint Commended: Essa Academy and Rivington and Blackrod POWERWAVE

Community Award

Sponsored by O2

Winner: The BIG Bolton Fund

Highly Commended: Lads and Girls Club

Commended: Smithills

Family Business of the Year

Sponsored by Warburtons

Winner: The Peers Group

Highly Commended: Richard Threlfall Group

Commended: Movetech UK

Environmental Best Practice Award

Sponsored by Groundwork Trust

Winner: MBDA

Highly Commended: Crompton Place

Commended: Bolton Wanderers

Business Person of the Year

Sponsored by KBL Solicitors

Winner: Peter Wu, The Chinese Buffet

HIghly Commended: Gary Hawthorne, Maytree Travel

Commended: Carol Jolly, Love Your Fit

Business of the Year

Sponsored by CLB Coopers Accountants

Winner: DRL Limited

Highly Commended: TV & Video Direct

Commended: Leighs Paints