THEY came dressed up to the nines in their hundreds to salute leading businesses at the 10th Oldham Business Awards ceremony.

James Roberts, of headline sponsor Ryder & Dutton, described the event as the “envy of neighbouring towns” in Greater Manchester, even the big city itself, and with 600 guests packed into the Queen Elizabeth Hall it was easy to see why.

Political impressionist and comedian Rory Bremner wowed the audience with his polished act, frequently moving into an uncanny impersonation of American president Donald Trump.

All the Oldham big hitters were there, including 83-year-old businessman and philanthropist Sir Norman Stoller – the man behind one of the sponsors Oldham Enterprise Trust - and entrepreneur Frank Rothwell was there as guest, and contender in two categories.

Sir Norman told The Oldham Times: “I don’t look backwards, I look forwards. And when you look tonight at the strength, enthusiasm and skill that’s in this room, it shows there’s nothing wrong with Oldham.

“I’m delighted to be back this event. We have been sponsoring this right from the beginning.

“My former company Seton was part of the DNA of the town. Oldham people are in my blood.

“I came here with £100 of borrowed capital, an old Post Office van with bus seats in the back and a great deal of cheek in 1952. And it was Oldham people that have helped me, something which I have never and will never forget.”

Mr Rothwell, a finalist in the Business Person of the Year category and his company Portcullis Oldham a contender in the Business of the Year (£5m to £10m turnover) section, echoed Sir Norman’s sentiments.

And he paid tribute to the Oldham Business Awards Steering Group chaired by Steve Kilroy, for making the event so successful, after it was launched by Martyn Torr and Dave Meredith a decade ago.

He said: “The awards are in their 10th year and to get people inspired to participate in something like this is not easy. Martyn Torr – MC on the night - and Dave Meredith, when they came up the concept, worked so hard on that first one.

“Thanks to them it’s a fantastic event. Look at how many people are here tonight. 600 people and sold out weeks ago.

“The Oldham community has really bought into this, and it’s surprising how many really successful businesses we have. Anyone who wins an award here tonight will be justifiably proud.”

Perhaps the most telling contribution on the evening came from the podium when Mr Roberts, commercial director of chartered surveyors, valuers and estate agents Ryder & Dutton addressed the guests.

He said: “I hope tonight there is one person in this room who may have been invited maybe by a friend or business contact who may be inspired to enter this event in 2019.

“From our experience of the last two years winning has been fantastic for us. It’s really enhanced our brand and had a series of marketing opportunities and we have made some quality contacts.

“The biggest win for us as has been internally, because staff want to work in an award-winning business. It really has resulted in a positive business mind set and built a winning culture.

“So if you’re thinking about whether to enter next year, I’ll tell you from our experience, you should do it.

“I’m reliably informed there are 600 people here tonight and it was sold out six weeks ago and I think that’s an absolutely amazing achievement.

“This night is the genuine envy of neighbouring towns. It’s because of our business togetherness. Anyone who is interested in business is welcome tonight. It doesn’t matter if been trading for six months or 100 years, or if you do business regionally, nationally or internationally.

“Doesn’t matter if you’ve been rich all the time – new money, old money, not made any money, or financed up to the hilt, we are united by our pride in Oldham.

“That togetherness, camaraderie and spirit that I am confident will give us 10 more year plus at least of these business awards.”

Another sponsor of the awards was chartered surveyor Breakey and Nutall. Partner Joanne Nuttall said: “This is our seventh year of attending the business awards and as a small business it’s the main event of the year for us.

“We always really look forward to it and we’ve introduced a lot of people who have gone on to win awards. This year one of those we introduced was Remedian IT Solutions.

“It’s a truly exciting event - particularly with this being the 10th anniversary - and I would encourage people to be a part of it.

“It’s not just about being nominated it’s also about getting involved and supporting the awards and the chosen charities. The Oldham Business Awards is about joining up the dots in the business community.”

The infectious enthusiasm of the evening even transmitted to the special guest Rory Bremner.

He told The Oldham Times: “One of the great things about doing shows like this is that you get to see diverse parts of the country like this.

“I’m staying out in Saddleworth, it’s absolutely lovely up there, looking out over the moor and coming through Mossley, was amazing. You see these church spires that are lower than the skyline, it’s amazing.

“I do a lot of this type of thing - it’s just different audiences. I love travelling round the country. You don’t have to go on holiday to see what there is.

“Here, it’s a really good atmosphere. Martyn sets the tone, it’s a friendly place and there are very few halls like this that hold as many people, so it’s a great experience.”

Awards results

Supporting Young People Award - Sponsored by Oldham College Winner: Channings Childcare Runners-up: Capita Translation and Interpreting/dsgnuk

Young Business of the Year Award - Sponsored by Reward Finance Group
Winner: Dream Big Sports
Runners up: Corner House Cakes/Old School Barbecue

Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award - Sponsored by Oldham Enterprise Trust
Winner: Eric Bishyika - SW Clothing Co
Runners-up: Hayley Smith - Simply Skin/Jannatul Choudhury - Muzzini

Community Engagement Award - Sponsored by Unity Partnership Winner: Safeguard Fusion
Runners-up: Blue Tiffin Restaurant/Dale Bathrooms

Employer of the Year Award - Sponsored by Ultimate Products
Winner: Oldham Chiropractic Clinic
Runners-up: Cornerstone Design & Marketing/Diodes

Start-up Business of the Year Award - Sponsored Business Growth Hub Winner: Assure Certification
Runner-up: The Secret Sip

usiness Person of the Year Award - Sponsored by Oldham Athletic AFC
Winner: Ansar Ali - dsgnuk
Runners-up: Frank Rothwell - Manchester Cabins/Maria Williams - Upturn

Business of the Year Award (up to £1m turnover) - Sponsored by Seftons
Winner: Remedian IT Solutions
Runners-up: Cornerstone Design & Marketing/Future Safety

Business of the Year Award (£1-5mTurnover)- Sponsored Aby Asian Business Leaders
Winner: Linda Lewis Kitchens Runners-up: Catalyst Claims/Seftons Accountants

Business of the Year Award (£5-10m turnover) - Sponsored by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisors
Winner: JA Harrison & Co
Runners-up: Gemini UPVC/Portcullis

Oldham Business of the Year Award (Over £10m turnover) - Sponsored by KPMG
Winner: Diodes Runners-up: Oldham Motor Company/Widdop and Co.

Special Recognition Award - Sponsored by Stoller Charitable Trust Recipient: Dave Benstead