A gala awards ceremony was held at the glamorous Ballygally Castle Hotel last night to honour top achievers in the local business world.
The sixth Larne Business Awards, organised by the Larne Times and supported by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, featured a total of 15 categories, including two voted for by Times readers.
Compered by broadcaster Barra Best, the evening saw awards presented for Best Retail Initiative, Best Export Business, Excellence in Innovation, Readers Favourite Restaurant/Cafe, Best Customer Service, Excellence in Tourism, Best Rural Business, Best Community Engagement, Best Environmental Business, Best digital Initiative, Excellence in Development, Business Person of the Year, Young Business Person of the Year, and Lifetime Achievement.
For the first time, the 2016 awards featured a new category for Best Start-up Business..
Newly elected Mayor Cllr Audrey Wales extended her congratulations to all those who were shortlisted for the awards.
“For those not shortlisted, thanks you for taking the time to participate. We wish you and your business every success in the future,” she added.
“Business Awards are aimed at recognising the talent, entrepreneurship, and excellence that exists – often unnoticed– in the business community.
“The awards pay tribute to the long history of local industry and commerce which has allowed towns like Larne to take root and flourish and our rural communities to be sustained. These awards acknowledge many local businesses which carry on that tradition today.”
Cllr Wales said she had been impressed by the “resilience” of the local business community. “In spite of several challenges, there is still an entrepreneurial attitude and outlook in the local business community,” she added.
The First citizen also highlighted the fact that, even in the midst of public realm scheme works in Larne’s Main Street area, a number of new businesses have started up in the town centre.
“Others have moved to larger premises, showing their confidence in the business environment,” she added. “There is much to celebrate about business in Larne and it is fitting that tonight we have ample opportunity to recognise and reward local enterprise and entrepreneurship.”
Larne Times multimedia content editor Stephen Kernohan told guests: “We are very proud to organise the Larne Business Awards. I would like to thank Mid and East Antrim Council for agreeing to be the principal sponsor of the awards and I am delighted we have with us the newly elected Mayor, Cllr Audrey Wales, and chief executive Anne Donaghy.
“We are also indebted to Forever Living, Magheramorne, for their continued support as associated sponsor, and to LEDCOM, who sponsored the new Best Start-up Business category.
“Our thanks as well to P&O Ferries, Power NI, and Gaelectric, each of whom returned this year as category sponsors.”