The 2023 Oldham Business Awards are officially underway and this year we are marking the 15th anniversary of what has become one of the biggest events of its kind in Greater Manchester.
Once again, we are proud and delighted to be recognising and rewarding excellence and entrepreneurialism among the borough’s business community. This year’s milestone anniversary sees a brand-new category, Workforce Health and Well-being, added to the 11-strong awards line-up, which also includes Business of the Year over £5m, Start-up Business of the Year, Community Engagement, and Supporting Young People Award. Our newest award – sponsored by Oldham Community Leisure (OCL) – will recognise how a business has made an effective and impactful commitment to the health and wellbeing of its workforce, actively fostering an environment in which employees can flourish and succeed.
But it’s not just business excellence and entrepreneurialism among the business community we’ll be rewarding, our awards celebrate the contribution Oldham companies large and small make to the social fabric of our communities through their support for local good causes. Over the years, we’ve raised over £50,000 for Oldham charities.
This year we’ll be continuing to support Mahdlo Youth Zone – a charity dedicated to providing fun and affordable opportunities to those aged eight to 19 and disabled young people and adults up to 25. The awards’ other worthy cause is Dr Kershaw’s Hospice which provides free specialist end-of-life and palliative care for adults with life-limiting illnesses in and around Oldham.
With the application process declared and well and truly open on 15th May and closing on 23rd June, we invite businesses and entrepreneurial individuals across the borough to enter our prestigious awards – honouring home-grown wealth creation, innovation, inspirational leadership, skills development, environmental aspects, and a whole host of other worthy attributes.
The launch kicks off a four-month nomination and judging process which will culminate in a glittering gala dinner on 22nd September 2023 at Oldham’s iconic Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Every year our steering group – a team of dedicated volunteer business professionals who hail from a diverse range of locally based businesses, including our chair, former BAE Systems executive Steve Kilroy – have the unenviable task of judging and selecting the winners. Judging begins in July and, following a rigorous selection process, our steering group panel will visit shortlisted businesses ahead of choosing three contenders for each category.
Our steering group will also select three nominees for the non-entered and prestigious Special Recognition Award, choosing candidates who they feel have gone above and beyond across a series of criteria to boost the borough’s business standing through their achievements.
Last year’s award went to Oldham Athletic Football Club co-owner and chairman Frank Rothwell, a long-standing supporter and founder of the multi-million-pound company, Manchester Cabins. Chair, Steve Kilroy, says the Oldham Business Awards create a platform for both business development and business growth.
“Many local businesses have gone from strength to strength as a result of the awards programme and this has resulted in many more people from the borough of Oldham being employed,” said Steve.
“I would encourage every business to get involved. It’s not only a platform to raise awareness but also to celebrate success and, more importantly, to celebrate with their customers, suppliers, and employees.”
Some stalwart sponsors have supported the event since its inception in 2008. They include:
Category sponsors include Pearsons Solicitors and Financial Advisers, Oldham College, Koderly, Seftons, Oldham Community Leisure, Business Growth Hub, Foresight Business Solutions, and Ultimate Products.
Cornerstone Design and Marketing is this year’s media and marketing partner and continues as website sponsor.
We are grateful for the support of all our sponsors and partners who contribute to the ongoing growth and success of the awards.
The awards are always a highlight in the borough’s social calendar, annually selling out to over 500 guests, who enjoy a drinks reception, entertainment, a pre-show casino, awards ceremony, and dance-fuelled after-party. Every year we feature an exciting mix of performances from young people representing the borough. Last year’s event was particularly special, seeing a welcome return following a three-year break due to Covid-19 restrictions.
This year’s host is yet to be announced but the event is renowned for attracting celebrities from the world of TV and broadcasting. In recent years we have welcomed comedians Romesh Ranganathan, Rory Bremner, John Culshaw, and John Thompson, as well as TV presenter, Louise Minchin. Watch this space, as they say!
Speaking on behalf of 2022’s Supporting Young People Award winner, Foresight IT Services, director Craig Barratt said as an Oldhamer born and bred, hailing from some of the town’s most deprived areas, winning the award was both personal and aspirational.
“I was born in Glodwick, my parents are from Limeside and Alt Estate and because of my own background, I can relate to how hard it can be to get a job, let alone a well-paid job, and that is the main aspiration when you don’t have qualifications and the same opportunities,” said Craig.
“Because of my own personal experience, I’m very big on supporting young people in Oldham and try to employee as many people from Oldham as possible, whether that’s through the apprenticeship route, college leavers or people struggling to get into a career.
“It’s about trying to give people tangible skills towards a long-term career in an industry that’s typically higher paid. We try to employ local and upskill people to reach a higher salary which isn’t just great for them, it goes back into the Oldham economy and keeps the Oldham pound ticking over.
“People in Oldham struggle to get good jobs unless they have a decent background and qualifications. I didn’t have a lot of qualifications leaving school, my aspirations were quite low until I started working at PC World on Elk Mill and understanding that my transferrable skills such as communication were valuable.
“So, winning this award was great recognition of what we’re trying to achieve. Yes, it’s given us more exposure among other business and customers but it really says everything about the focus of what we do.
“As well as upskilling we have a great track record for retaining people, that’s a big emphasis for us, so the recognition is good for us as an employer and the people we employ because it shows that their hard work develops the business and in turn, they can work their way up through the ranks to become higher earners and raise their aspirations.
“PR wise it’s been huge in terms of exposure to other businesses, recognising what we’re doing while also addressing our social responsibility commitments. It’s also been great for recruitment because people can see what we’re doing and really want to come and work for us.
“It’s helped us as the differentiator from other companies that might not operate in the same way. We’ve been able to use it internally to encourage feedback and increase moral and essentially raise the bar in how we support our employees, particularly young people.
“It really validates what we’re doing.”
Craig and fellow director Ged Tod founded Foresight in 2010 and it’s now the biggest IT support company in Oldham, employing 13 people with a £1M-plus annual turnover.
In January this year they launched the Foresight Foundation, a not-for-profit social enterprise committed to eradicating the ‘digital divide’ by giving over 600 disadvantaged Oldham families free internet access and mobile phone data.
“Like Craig, I am a firm believer in ‘be local’, whether that’s buying local products or services or supporting local talent in the form of jobs – it all helps the local economy to thrive and grow delivering a positive impact back to the community,” said Ged.
“Winning our category last year at the OBA’s has helped to provide recognition and increased visibility for the hard work, dedication, and achievements we have made as a team, trying to be the best Oldham based IT support provider across the north west.”
If you’ve entered before, you’ll be familiar with the process; if not, make 2023 the year to be part of this spectacular business community celebration!
You can enter or nominate here.
And remember the deadline for nominations is 23rd June. Good luck!