The stars of the latest Skegness Business of the Year Awards say winning top prize was an ‘unexpected honour’. Little Learners Day Nursery took the crown from Natureland, who were winners last year. Earlier in the evening they had won the award for Care Provider of the Year and couldn’t believe it when they were called back on to the stage to receive the prize.They were among representatives of 10 categories honoured in the second annual ceremony held by Skegness Partnership. More than 200 attended the glittering event at the Southview Park Hotel.
And the winners were:
COMMUNITY AWARD (Hildreds Centre) - THE COASTAL ECO CENTRE
The Coastal Eco Centre is a community-based organisation located on Richmond Drive in Skegness that offers a wide range of services to people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds across a diverse set of activities.
Judges were impressed by the way it takes learning out of the classroom and into the outdoors and nearly everything on the former landfill site is recycled or upcycled.
Among the facilities are gardens, growing areas and a bird cafe and activities include pond dipping and den building.
Director Paul Charles said “We were overjoyed to win the category. This award is dedicated to all the volunteers and staff at the centre who make our work for the community possible - this award is for you!
“We would also like to thank all the people who attend the daily training activities, help with or take part in the school visits that happen throughout the year.
“The special events that take place regularly, the Forest Tots group and the other Early Years participants and all the other people who support us and give us such positive feedback throughout the year.
“Thanks also to the Skegness Partnership for delivering such an amazing event.”
CUSTOMER CARE AWARD (Kirks Quality Foods) - SEACROFT MOBILITY
Seacroft Mobility is a family-run business that has grown from four to nine branches across Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire since it started trading in 1993.
It provides mobility and personal care products and offers an extensive fleet of hire scooters and wheelchairs.
Judges who visited the branch in the Old Fire Station on Roman Bank were impressed with their reputation for customer care, having excellent relations with local hotels and guest houses which appreciate their prompt and attentive service.
Andrea Swain said: “We are a family-run business employing 30 people. Whilst continuing to grow we work hard to maintain the local feel to our shops. We offer a personal service including home visits, breakdown call out, servicing and repairs.
“We are now in our third year as Motability dealers, managing and supporting a large fleet of customers on the scheme. We are ambitious for future growth but always with an emphasis on the customer at the heart of our business.”
RETAILER OF THE YEAR (MKM Building Supplies) - KIRKS BUTCHERS
Kirks Quality Foods was originally purchased by Denis and Carol Kirk in 1963. Since then the shop in High Street has seen many changes, with a bespoke wholesale catering factory being built behind the shop and, over the years, four major refits to the front of the shop, with the last one just under two years ago.
Judges were impressed that it is a business trusted for quality that prides itself on understanding its customers and giving them what they want.
John Kirk, who runs the business with brother Andrew, said: “From humble beginnings of just two staff, the business now employs over 24 people, providing wholesale meats to many of the towns and surrounding areas hotels and restaurants.
“There is also a full manufacturing section that makes not only all the speciality sausages, but also burgers, pork pies, sausages rolls and now even curries, that are sold through the shop too.
“Next year there are plans for a new cut price Market Street range in the shop, which will provide ‘Quality Products at Market Prices’, plus more emphasis on ‘out sales’, including hot and cold sandwiches.
“We are also launching a full range of meat hampers that we will deliver to your door.
“These are exciting times and we are delighted to be recognised for the work we do.”
CAFE OF THE YEAR (Licensed Victuallers’ Association) - COFFEE OWL
The Coffee Owl in High Street is a family-run business which will be celebrating its third year on February 14 next year.
Judges were impressed by the number of people who valued the friendly atmosphere and appreciated the children’s play area. Owner Nadine Hutchinson said: “We have five brilliant members of staff, including my husband, daughter, and I, who are outstanding.
“We have a wide menu with something to suit everyone. Our trade mark is our thick crusty bread, which everyone is guaranteed to love, and fresh ground coffee beans.
“We have an amazing variety of drinks, including our own unique inventions, lots of yummy cakes with always a gluten free option available.
“We also have a little owls corner to keep the little ones entertained. Our working environment is friendly and pleasant.
“It has been said we are like ‘Cheers’ on TV – a lovely friendly place where everyone knows your name.”
YOUNG EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR (Fix Auto Skegness) - PETER BLEVINS, CHEF AT CAXTON HOUSE
Sixteen-year-old Peter Blevins stepped in as breakfast chef at last year’s Accommodation Award winners Caxton House when Paul Seabrook, who runs the guest house with his wife, Wendy, became unwell this summer.
Judges were impressed with the maturity he has shown and his eagerness to learn the skills in the kitchen.
Wendy said: “Peter‘s confident mature manner delights our guests as well as his breakfast.
“He stays calm and cool dealing with each order, nipping to the dining room between cooking to check with guests that they are satisfied.”
Peter said: “Wendy and Paul have taken me under their wing since I was 13.
“They have always been supportive and encouraging of everything I have done and are two of the nicest and kindest people ever.”
BUSINESS OF THE YEAR (Coastal Communities Fund) and CARE PROVIDER OF THE YEAR (Duncan and Topliss) - LITTLE LEARNERS DAY NURSERY
Little Learners Nursery School in Lumley Avenue opened in 2008 and has achieved an Outstanding Ofsted. Due to its popularity, it soon expanded and developed a second setting in 2013.
The staff team has grown significantly and now employs around 30 people providing a unique blend of care and education for children within the local community.
Judges were impressed with the facilities, the dedication, focus and qualification of the owner and her team.
Owner Marie Walker said: “We would like to thank the kind parent who nominated us for the Business Awards. We felt extremely proud and privileged to win, not only the Care Provider award but also to achieve the award for Business of the Year, it was an unexpected honour.”
ACCOMMODATION AWARD (Rest Assured/ SECWHA) - CARRON HOUSE
Carron House has become a popular and successful family run business since it was first established 14 years ago.
Judges were impressed that it is redecorated every year and meticulously maintained by the ‘lady who wears many hats’, Sue Raistrick.
Sue said: “My loyalty and repeat business is unmeasurable. That’s why we offer comfortable, affordable home from home four star accommodation and friendship.
“My life is made a lot easier as I’m lucky and grateful to have Nick, my husband, who is an experienced builder to ensure the property is maintained at a high standard.
“My two sons, Christopher and Harry, are always volunteering, especially during the busy season.
“I’m still in surprise mode about winning the award as I’ve received so many genuine well wishes and people have been stopping in the supermarkets, making me feel very special.
“Thank you SECWHA for your support and to Skegness Partnership for recognising all the hard work we put into our business to promote Carron House and Skegness.
BEST ATTRACTION (The Royal Hotel) - SKEGNESS AQUARIUM
Skegness Aquarium is one of the newest attractions in Skegness which opened on the site of the former Pandas Palace in Tower Esplanade last year.
Based on a Treasure Island theme, the multi-million pound project by Teen Spirit Ltd creates a vibrant and educational addition to the Skegness offer.
Visitors enjoy a wide range of additional thrills, such as diving with sharks and birthday parties with the fishes. In the autumn regular visitors are rewarded with discounted coffee mornings and Baby, Bump and Toddler sessions.
Judges were impressed with the way the concept is carried through with great realism and the image and the experience in any objective terms are first class.
Teen spirit director Katrina Graham said they were delighted to win the award. She said: “Teen Spirit are very proud to win this award. It’s always rewarding to be recognised for a contribution. We have a fabulous attraction with a fantastic team. We are positively looking forward to forthcoming seasons and showcasing the projects we have planned. Our company have confidence in Skegness as a resort and hope other business see the potential so we can encourage local investment.”
BEST NEW BUSINESS (Hodgkinsons Solicitors) - CHUCKLING CHEESE
The Hildreds Shopping Centre celebrated 100 per cent occupancy following the arrival of Chuckling Cheese. The shop sells more than 25 new cheeses and other local produce.
Its young management team started out by doing country fayres and trade shows. Judges were impressed with the way they enthusiastically embraced the new challenge of a retail unit in the High Street.
BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR (Skegness and District Chamber of Commerce) - KAREN SHEPPARD, PEOPLE FIRST MOBILITY
People First Mobility in Lumley Square has been trading for 15 years, providing scooters, powerchairs, wheelchairs, bathing aids, incontinence aids and many other different mobility and disability products.
They also do servicing and repair and offer a hire service, aiming to give customers more independence, freedom and improved quality of life.
Judges were impressed by the way owner Karen Sheppard leads her team with skill and confidence.
In return they reward her with loyalty and support, especially through a time of personal difficulties, in which they said Karen has shown what a strong and resilient businesseswoman she is.
Karen said: “It has been a tough year for me battling cancer but I have kept fighting and am now the sole owner.
“ I have worked as much as possible during my treatment. I hope I am an inspiration to other business people and also to anyone battling cancer.
“I am so proud to have received this award and would like to thank all my friends and customers for their support.”