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LISTEN: 'The Best of The Bay': Winners Announced At Inaugural Bay Living Awards

The winners of the very first Bay Living Awards have been revealed at a glittering ceremony at Lancaster University's Great Hall.

From a surprise appearance by pop star Olly Murs, to drumming rabbits and guests dressed to impress, the first Bay Living Awards was a night to remember as more than 350 people watched the winners take to the stage.

You can see photos and listen to interviews with the winners by scrolling down this page, and check out our special gallery here where you'll find even more photos of the event.

From cafés and charities, to innovators and entrepreneurs, beauty salons and the best eateries of the Bay, the awards celebrated excellence from all walks of life.

The event was organised in partnership with Bay Living magazine and The Bay Radio as a celebration of everything that is special about the Morecambe Bay region.

Hosted by The Bay Radio's breakfast presenter Danny Matthews, with live coverage on air and online throughout the evening, this was a showbiz extravaganza.

Videos from TV and music star Olly, as well as fellow X-Factor acts Union J and Louisa Johnson, alongside chart topping bands Scouting for Girls and Collabro, as well as soap actor Adam Rickitt, announced some of the winners.

Once the presentations were over, guests danced into the night to music from Lancaster band Sold to the Sky.

You can watch the highlights of the event in our special video below:

You can see the first photos of the winners by scrolling down this page, with more to follow in a Facebook gallery.

Speaking after the ceremony, host Danny said: "What a brilliant night. We love a great party and this was one of the best in the Bay.

"Congratulations to all of our amazing winners and all of our finalists too. Every single one of them deserved to be there and it was fantastic to see them enjoying their moment in the spotlight.

"I can't wait to see the Bay Living Awards get even bigger and better next year. This is going to become one of the highlights of the Bay's calendar."

Managing director of The Bay radio station, Bill Johnston, congratulated all the finalists before the winners were revealed. He said: "With more than 400 entries and nominations across the 24 categories, all the finalists we chose really stood out across North Lancashire and South Cumbria and are the very best in their field.  

"The event was a great opportunity for all of our finalists to position themselves at the heart of the community, inspire their workforce, promote their values and civic identity and raise their brand and profile with our readers and listeners all at the same time." 

You can see the list of winners below, and hear The Bay's Darren Milby chatting with the winners during the evening show presented by Chris Kirk.

The full list of winners and finalists is as follows:

Best Customer Service, sponsored by Invest in South Lakeland 

WINNER: Silver Tree Jewellery, Lancaster

Oliver Gibson from Silver Tree said: "It's great to be involved in the first Bay Living Awards. We're very humbled to be a part of it. We are a company that cares about customers and we are forward thinking and try to be the best at what we do."

Finalist: Black Bear I.T. Solutions, Lancaster

Finalist: Reid Hamilton & Co, Lancaster

Finalist: Brew Me Sunshine, Morecambe

Best Professional Service, sponsored by Lancaster and District Chamber Of Commerce

WINNER: Reid Hamilton & Co, Lancaster

After collecting the award, Duncan Woodcock of Reid Hamilton, said: "It feels absolutely amazing. I've run the business for thirty years today.

"I have a great team and I can't thank them enough for helping the business get to where it is. I'm overwhelmed. What a great way to celebrate 30 years"

Finalist: Professional Help Ltd, Carnforth

Finalist: Harrison Pit Architects, Lancaster

Best Visitor Attraction or Event, sponsored by United Utilities

WINNER: Morecambe Carnival

David Brayshaw - whose idea it was to bring the event back in 2014, said: "It's become a great family event and that's all due to hard work from our team of around 80 volunteers.

"We can't thank them enough. Morecambe's on the up. It's been in the doldrums for a while but there's a lot of investment coming in. There's new things coming all the time and we hope that the carnival has been a catalyst for all of that."

David's wife Carla added: "It means the world to us. We're absolutely thrilled! We're immensely proud to win this award. We're standing here, but we are representing a team of people who we can rely on.

"We can't do everything by ourselves, we really need to have a great team behind us and that's exactly what we've got."

David and Carla also won the Ambassadors of the Year Award. You can hear their reaction further down this page.

Finalist: Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway

Finalist: Carnforth Station Heritage Centre

Best Use Of Creativity, sponsored by Lancaster University

WINNER: Cumbria Constabulary

Steven Ramshay and Lisa Chadwick represented the team from Cumbria Constabulary. Steven said: “We are very pleased to win. It was a real team effort because everyone chipped in with the campaign.”

Lisa added: “Some of us have teenage children and some of us have not long been teenagers ourselves. We knew we needed to be where the kids are and that meant getting on Snapchat.

"Their mums and dads use Twitter and Facebook nowadays. It was a very different way of getting our message across, a new way of doing it, and it has paid dividends.”

Finalist: Carolyn Walker from Carolyn’s Art in Lancaster

Finalist: Claire Tillotson at Hatch in Lancaster

Best Business Team, sponsored by Lancaster City Council

WINNER: Howson Interiors trading as Lakeland Kitchens in Kendal

Melanie Wright from Howson was delighted to win, commenting: "It's fabulous. The team will be really envious that they weren't all here tonight! I’m shaking! I’m really chuffed and proud for all of the team. We’re a family run business and work so hard, it’s gone really well for us.

"It was such a shock to win, we didn’t think we would get anything!”

Finalist: Coco Hair and Beauty in Barrow

Finalist: Wink Networking in Carnforth

Best Restaurant, sponsored by Wilson’s Fresh Produce 

WINNER: Hipping Hall, Cowan Bridge

Oli Martin, Head Chef of Hipping Hall, was whooping and hollering his way to the stage when he found out he had won. He said: “It is brilliant, we didn’t expect it. It was a really big surprise because we thought L’Enclume would take it. We are super happy to be here.

"The people on our table had been to Hipping Hall and L’Enclume so they know how good we are, but it took us all a second to realise that it was our name that they’d just read out!”

Finalist: The Morecambe Hotel, Morecambe

Finalist: L'enclume, Cartmel

Best Community Focus, sponsored by Holdens Solicitors

WINNER: Sustainability Morecambe

The group's Joanne Ainscough said: "We are absolutely delighted. We're only a young organisation and this is a real pat on the back .We're absolutely delighted. We're so happy that people are paying attention to what we're trying to achieve - to reduce poverty and to help tackle the problem across the country.

"This is abut The West End being recognised. Our team of volunteers are unbelievable - and the others we were up against in our category are all absolutely fantastic. We had already resigned ourselves to not winning, they are all such great organisations."

Finalist: North West Ambulance Service – Community First Responders

Finalist: CAMP Cumbria in Coniston

Apprentice Of The Year, sponsored by Lancaster and Morecambe College 

WINNER: Dan Rutherford from Logs Direct in Halton

Dan was humbled by his Apprentice of the Year prize. He said: “It’s a pleasure to be here, it’s really amazing. It’s a great opportunity to be here. I’ve been there for a year and I think I stand out a little bit because I try to do a little bit extra for everyone.

"It is really good being there. I’ll have to think about a asking for a pay rise!”

Finalist: Rustom English from Net * Development Limited in Kendal

Finalist: Emma Lund from Lancaster University

The Innovation Award, sponsored by Electricity North West 

WINNER: Stephenson’s Dairy in Morecambe

Steph Stephenson, said: "Without the support of people in the Bay's community, we couldn't do what we do. Customers want to know where their milk comes from - well, it comes from our cows which go out to graze.

"We've got lots of lush green grass here! People believe in us, so we're so happy to have the recognition".

Chris Stephenson added: "There's more cheese to come!"

Finalist: Adrian Coates from Beetham Holiday Homes

Finalist: CAMP Cumbria in Coniston

Small Independent Retailer, sponsored by Lancaster and District Chamber Of Commerce 

WINNER: Silver Tree Jewellery, Lancaster

Hannah Gibson from Silver Tree - which won two awards (see above), said: "I am ecstatic. We were honoured to get the first award but this is the one we really really wanted. We work so hard on our customer service and genuinely want to make our customers happy."

Oliver Gibson added: "Because we are an independent business we don’t have to have a set format, we can bend the rules where the chain stores can’t."

Finalist: Little Beasties, Ulverston

Finalist: Begin With Nature, Kendal

Best Coffee Shop or Café, sponsored by Wilson’s Fresh Produce 

WINNER: Elaine’s Tea Room in Feizor, near Austwick

Elaine Knowles, the owner of Elaine’s Tearoom, brought her team to the event. She said: “I can’t believe it. I absolutely did not expect anything like this. The business is in the middle of nowhere! I’ve been on water all night because they wouldn’t let me have a drink, but I’m having one to celebrate now.”

And she joked: “I wanted best boss but they wouldn’t put me in for it!”

Finalist (Highly commended): Brew Me Sunshine in Morecambe

Finalist: Buccelli’s in Lancaster

Best Local Charity, sponsored by United Utilities 

WINNER: CancerCare at Slynedales           

A CancerCare spokesperson said: "We're honoured to win in such a competitive category. It's such an important service which costs £1.2m every year to run. We'd like to dedicate this to all of our volunteers and fundraisers."

Finalist: Tigerlily Trust in Grange Over Sands

Finalist: North West Air Ambulance

Best Boss, sponsored by Holdens Solicitors 

WINNER: Susan Robinson, Nanny Brow Luxury B&B, Ambleside

Susan spoke of her immense personal satisfaction at the recognition, saying: “I was absolutely astounded to win, I’m so thrilled. It’s not me, it’s the team – they are a great bunch. They told me they had nominated me and I was so touched, I cried.”

Finalist: Rebecca Rawlings, Women's Community Matters, Barrow

Finalist: Annette Ritson, Net* Developments, Kendal

Best Celebration Venue, sponsored by Electricity North West

WINNER: The Midland Hotel, Morecambe

Mark Needham, General Manager from the Midland said: "We're quite shocked, but we do feel like we're worthy winners (laughs). We have a lot of special occasions at the Midland Hotel, so it feels very fitting to win this special award."

Finalist: Abbey House Hotel & Gardens, Barrow

Finalist: The Daffodil Hotel & Spa, Grasmere

The Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by Lancaster City Council 

WINNER: David Unsworth in Cartmel

David Unsworth, of Unsworth’s Yard, Cartmel, said: “It’s great, such a big surprise. The Yard was 15 years in the making and this is the first bit of recognition we have had.

“Six weeks ago I didn’t know I had been nominated until a member of the public put my name forward. That means people are engaging with the Yard. We are not providing a service, we are just providing a space and letting people create their own atmosphere. That’s what we set out to do.

“The Yard has been there for 100 years and generations of my family have been architects for change. You hear about families being ostracised from the villages they have lived and worked in because times change but we knew we had to evolve and that’s what we’ve done.”

Finalist: Hydropaws in Morecambe

Finalist: Carolyn Walker from Carolyn’s Art in Lancaster

Employee Of The Year Award, sponsored by Invest in South Lakeland 

WINNER: Rachael Wilkinson from Lancaster BID

Rachael said: “I was shocked to be a finalist so it is really great to get this award. I don’t really know why I was nominated. I work for a team of volunteers and we’re not together all the time in an office so I have to go above and beyond to get my work noticed. I can’t wait to get into work and display this!”

Finalist: Joanne Nelson from Slate Bar in Kendal

Finalist: Michael Jones from Animal Care in Lancaster

Best Place To Stay (Hotel or B&B)

WINNER: Nanny Brow Luxury B&B in Ambleside

Susan Robinson of Nanny Brow - who also won the 'Best Boss" award, told The Bay: "It's a double-whammy for us! Our B&B is the most beautiful house - one of the most significant arts and craft houses in the Lake District". Employee Millie Hill added: "Sue is so caring - she really cares about the B&B and cares about the staff."

Finalist: Abbey House Hotel and Gardens in Barrow

Finalist: The Midland in Morecambe

Best Country Pub

WINNER: The Blacksmiths Arms, Broughton Mills

Head Chef Mark Satterthwaite from the pub, said: "I'd like to thank my boss and his wife for letting us develop the kitchen into what it is now. It'll be great for the pub to get a bit of recognition. I started as Head Chef in April and since then we've had around 50 great reviews on TripAdvisor."

Finalist: The Wild Boar at Crook

Finalist: The Silverdale Hotel 

Best Town / City Pub or Bar

WINNER: Slate Bar in Kendal

Co-owner Kaushik Mistry told Bay News: "We've created something different. 87% of our customers are female, so basically we seem to have created a bar for women!" Manager, Jo Nelson added: "I guess we're simply the best!"

Finalist: The Sun Hotel and Bar in Lancaster

Finalist: Masons Yard 24 in Kendal

Best Arts / Entertainment Venue

WINNER: The Dukes, Lancaster

Gill Graystone from The Dukes told us she was thrilled to win: "We're absolutely delighted because we were up against such still competition. It makes it just feel really special".

The venue's Gary Rycroft added: "We've been going for more than 40 years now and we feel like the venue speaks to the local community. That's why it's such a privilege to put on plays like Blackout for example, which re-lived the moment that Lancaster was plunged into darkness during Storm Desmond".

Finalist (Highly commended): The Grand Theatre, Lancaster

Finalist: More Music, Morecambe

Best Hair Salon

WINNER: Cabello Hair Lounge, Carnforth

Katie Elders from Cabello Hair Lounge, said: “I was overwhelmed, I didn’t expect it. I had no idea whatsoever that I had been nominated. I just got a phone call while I was on holiday to say I was a finalist. The business is just me, it’s the smallest business going, so it is just fantastic to win.”

Finalist: Jo & Cass, Lancaster

Finalist: Daniel Gray Hair & Beauty, Kendal

Best Health and Fitness Centre

WINNER: 3-1-5 Health Club, Lancaster

Sean Thornton, Co-Owner of 3-1-5, said: "It's a very special moment. We wanted to develop the club for the local community."

Finalist: Bayfit Ltd, Morecambe

Finalist: MFKB Mauy Thai, Kendal

Best Beauty Business

WINNER: Jo & Cass in Lancaster

Graham Cass from Jo & Cass told us: "It's fantastic to win this award. A big thanks to all our staff and customers!"

Finalist: Bare Skin LTD in Morecambe

Finalist: Sue Shields Health & Beauty Studio  in Carnforth

Ambassadors Of The Year

David & Carla Brayshaw, Morecambe Carnival

David said: "We've got a bit of time on our hands and we're just trying to give a little bit back. We want to make it so the kids in Morecambe can have a holiday over the weekend in their home town.

"It's all about being proud of where you live. We hope we're giving people that pride again. We've got a great team of volunteers and that's so important to us. We are so grateful to them, because without the support of local people and businesses so they also deserve a round of applause!

"We spoke to police after MC17 and there was no trouble to report. It really was a party atmosphere and we're so thankful for that."

Carla added: "We're stunned, very grateful and very humbled by it. We just do what we do! We love Morecambe.

"We were both born and brought up here. It was sad to see it decline and we're just doing what we can to reverse that. Carnival weekend can be quite stressful but it's so worth it."

The judging team (pictured below) comprised of Bill Johnston, Managing Director of The Bay Radio station & launch Chair of the Bay Living Awards; Phil Collier of Phil Collier Associates, Chair of the Furness Branch of the FSB, & Barrow's BID Manager; Lynn Ison, Manager of the Marketgate Shopping Centre, Lancaster; and Nick Hood, organiser of the North West Hospitality Show.

Also on the panel, Vicky Lofthouse, Chief Executive of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce; Paul Cusimano, proprietor of Joseph & Co in Lancaster & the current Chair of Lancaster’s Business Improvement District; Chris Nelson, PR and marketing professional & Chair of the Ulverston BID board; and John O’Neill, Manager of the Lancaster & District Chamber of Commerce & the Manager of the Morecambe BID.

Joining them were Simon Craig, Chair of Barrow’s Business Improvement District & Manager of Marks & Spencer; and Daniel Morley, store Director of Beales in Kendal & Chair of Kendal’s Business Improvement District. 

Below: Not taking any decisions lightly... The team of judges spent hours at The Bay's HQ carefully considering every entry

Associate sponsors included Lancaster University, whose Professor Simon Guy, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, said: “Lancaster University is delighted to host and support the brand new Bay Living Awards 2017.

"Developing our excellent and fruitful links with the local community is always high on our list of priorities and these awards provide us with the perfect way for us to recognise and celebrate all the good things happening in this very vibrant and diverse community.”

Martin Deehan, Operations Director, of another sponsor, Electricity North West, commented: “As the region’s power network operator, our role goes beyond keeping the lights on across the North West.

"We are committed to serving the wonderful and passionate community of North Lancashire and South Cumbria in which many of our people work and live.

"We’re proud that it’s our network that connects communities".

Susan Parsonage, City Council Chief Executive commented: “As a sponsor of the Bay Living Awards, Lancaster City Council is delighted to be part of an initiative which celebrates the accomplishments of businesses within the bay area."

United Utilities are also one of three associate sponsors for the Bay Living Awards 2017. Their Area Stakeholder Manager, Steven Wong said: "United Utilities are proud to support the Bay Living Awards 2017.

"We are investing heavily in the Bay area across a number of multi million pound projects to help improve the quality of river water and sea water."

Other sponsors included Holdens Solicitors, Wilson's Fresh Produce, Lancaster & District Chamber of Commerce, Lancaster City Council, Lancaster & Morecambe College and Invest In South Lakeland, the economic development arm of South Lakes District Council. Support was also received from Westgate Tyres.

From the team at The Bay radio station, Bay Living Magazine and all the sponsors, congratulations to every winner and finalist.

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