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T: 01768 867118
E: [email protected]

Mardale Road
Penrith
Cumbria
CA11 9EH

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Located in East Lancashire, heartland of the Industrial Revolution lies a business that is home to generations of skilled artisan craftspeople. They are creators of architectural terracotta and faience (glazed terracotta) products, that first became popular after the First World War.

During the last century, this specialist workforce has played a major part in the restoration of some of Britain’s landmark buildings. The business survived two world wars and a management buyout but was left in a precarious position after the outbreak of COVID-19.

The origins of Darwen Terracotta date back to 1897, when in its previous form as ‘Shaws of Darwen’, they produced decorative finishes in terracotta for the many opulent civic monuments commissioned during the Victorian era.

Fast forward 118 years later to 2015, when Shaws of Darwen decided to close the architectural terracotta division to focus on their fireclay sink business, the opportunity arose for former employees to set up a new business, employing the very same, skilled craftspeople.

Business partners behind Darwen Terracotta, Steve Allen and Jon Wilson describe the company as ‘a new name, with old hands’. Both already had experience in working for the firm in senior positions when the terracotta division was closed and neither wanted to see the specialist skills of the workforce lost.

Steve said, “Jon and I began to make a plan. We felt there was still a market for the terracotta products and we didn’t want to see some forty employees made redundant.”

“The company was one of only three manufacturers of architectural terracotta and faience products in the world, and there was a lot of prestigious buildings in the UK that had these finishes, requiring restoration at some point”.

“We set up the new company and found a premises in September 2015. One of our first contracts was restoring various sections of the historic Wigan Town Hall. We have subsequently completed restoration work on the Royal Albert Hall, Harrods department store, the Natural History Museum and the Savoy Hotel to name just a few.”

Alongside their senior team, they began to develop the business, showcasing their work at national shows and exhibitions, leading to some exciting sculptural commissions and new build projects. They also decided to utilise the workforce’s prior experience in handmade sink production to once again, begin producing fireclay sinks, launched under their new brand in March this year. Shortly after this, the county went into lockdown and the business was seriously affected.

Steve said, “The lockdown made a huge impact. We are fifty percent down on our forecast sales this quarter. All planned projects have been delayed.

“After the lockdown was announced, we knew that we would need financial help to get us through this period. We put two thirds of our staff through the government job retention scheme and worked out what amount we would need to assist our cash flow, based on a worst-case scenario.

“We wrote to our bank but after receiving no reply, we searched for lenders in our area and found Enterprise Answers. We began the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme application process with them which involved talking through our business plan over the phone. Once the loan had been approved, the money was in our bank in under a week.

“Having the money in the bank has allowed us to keep production going and keep our workforce employed. After achieving year on year growth since 2016, we can’t wait to get the business back on track and thriving once more”.

Enterprise Answers are an accredited delivery partner for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) in the North West. The CBILS scheme enables lenders to provide facilities of up to £5m to SME’s who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow. 

Chief Executive of Enterprise Answers, Grahame Latus said, “It was a pleasure, if not a privilege, to be able to assist Darwen Terracotta Limited with a CBILS loan which enabled the safeguarding of 40 jobs. The company is an exemplar of all that is good about British skilled artisan craftsmanship and boasts an impressive portfolio of its works across the UK and abroad.”

Grahame Latus of Enterprise Answers

“Darwen Terracotta Limited have built a tremendous business model over the last five years which has seen year on year growth. CBILS was designed with businesses like this in mind, to preserve the growth, the jobs, the skills and create a financial platform from which the business can emerge from the pandemic, just as strong as ever.”

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy (BEIS).

To find out more about the fascinating work of Darwen Terracotta visit https://www.darwenterracotta.com/

One of the UK’s best loved artisan cheesemakers, Mrs Kirkham’s has revealed the reality of surviving the COVID-19 lockdown and how securing a government backed loan from a local independent lender, Enterprise Answers allowed the business to keep running.

Managing Director, Graham Kirkham took over the running of the business from his mother fifteen years ago. Since then Graham and a small team have been passionately developing the business, earning numerous awards for their Lancashire cheeses. The cheeses are produced using raw cow’s milk from their own herd of 240 cows and are available through selected retailers across the country.

Sadly, the third-generation family business based in Goosnargh was one of many smaller food businesses to be hit dramatically by the collapse of the hospitality industry after lockdown was announced.

Graham said, “After the lockdown, we lost 75% of our business overnight. We saw forty years of growth disappear, yet we were powerless.”

“Wholesalers were sending back stock and our storeroom was filling up. We weren’t selling any cheese but as we’re a working farm, our outgoings remained the same. It was a massive worry. We considered stopping the cheesemaking and furloughing our staff but no-one wanted to buy the milk either. One week we only sold nine cheeses, yet we knew we needed to sell 130 to break even. We had to find new routes to selling our cheese”.

Like many other businesses, Mrs Kirkham’s needed financial help to see them through the crisis. Graham explained, “We started to look for a solution but having never experienced this before we weren’t sure what to do.  I had a conversation with our bank but frustratingly, they were unable to help us.

“Our accountants advised us to seek a loan which would allow us to keep running the farm and producing cheese. They recommended Enterprise Answers, who they felt may be able to help us.”

Enterprise Answers are an accredited delivery partner for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) in the North West. The CBILS scheme enables lenders to provide facilities of up to £5m to SME’s who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow. 

Chief Executive of Enterprise Answers, Grahame Latus said, “We’re really pleased to have been able to assist a long established family business with the finance it requires to tackle uncertainties to its core activities, as a result of the impact of the pandemic.

“Mrs Kirkham’s is a wonderful family business spanning three generations and a lovely example of all that is good about rural enterprise, encompassing the production of artisan food created from the yield of their own farm. Graham and Kellie are great ambassadors for the food sector here in the North West”.

Speaking about the loan application process, Graham Kirkham commented, “The application process was simple and straightforward. I had a telephone interview with Enterprise Answers as part of the application, but rather than being daunting, it was a useful and practical conversation. My accountants then helped me complete the form.”

“The following evening, I got a call from Grahame to say that the loan had been approved. The relief was immense. I felt as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”

“The loan from Enterprise Answers combined with the help and publicity we received has really helped us to get through the past few weeks. We were able to join a box scheme run by Neal’s Yard in collaboration with Jamie Oliver, that allowed cheese producers like us to supply customers directly.

“We also attracted fantastic public support from people visiting our makeshift farm shop after being interviewed on the farm by the BBC.  We started offering local delivery of our cheeses through social media and before long, other producers were bringing their produce to sell at our shop. We are now looking into creating a permanent farm shop here on the farm”.

Grahame of Enterprise Answers added, “Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese Limited has a resilient business model which should enable it to successfully overcome the current challenges and emerge as a more robust business able to respond to the ‘new normal’, yet seize new opportunities for future growth”.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy (BEIS).

JOB ADVERTISEMENT

BUSINESS LENDING MANAGER

Enterprise Answers is a North West based CDFI (Community Development Finance Institution), the only rural CDFI in the country and a member of Responsible Finance. We are passionate about helping SMEs to flourish by providing them with access to finance. We lend our own funds as well as those of third party organisations.

Due to impending retirement, we are seeking to recruit a new Business Lending Manager to cover Cumbria, North Lancashire & the Yorkshire Dales.  


JOB DESCRIPTION
Job Title: Business Lending Manager
Main Purpose of Job:
To originate new business and appraise lending proposals for Enterprise Answers business loans to growing SMEs in the North West, primarily in Cumbria, North Lancashire & the Yorkshire Dales.

Enterprise Answers is a Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) and a member of Responsible Finance. As a lender and manager of funds, we are committed to providing viable SME’s with access to finance in the North West region. We are a Delivery Partner of the British Business Bank’s Enterprise Finance Guarantee & Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan schemes.
This can be a home-based position that will require working out in the field, from our Penrith office.


Responsible to the Chief Executive.


Duties and Responsibilities:
Whilst not limited to these the principle areas of this role are as follows:

  1. To generate new business through personal networking and contacts
  2. Undertake loan appraisals including risk assessment of the business proposition and affordability of finance for the borrower
  3. Completion and submission of all required documentation relating to the lending decision
  4. Uploading and monitoring of data on the loan management system
  5. To contribute towards agreed delivery targets
  6. To promote the Company in order to raise profile as appropriate
  7. To maintain positive customer relationships with own portfolio clients
  8. Liaise with the Finance Officer regarding loan arrears and recovery actions
  9. Undertake any actions in respect of arrears cases as agreed with the Chief Executive
  10. Ensure all reporting requirements are kept up to date
  11. To undertake training as required to ensure compliance in regard to the FCA and other regulatory bodies as appropriate
  12. To manage your own Continuing Professional Development in consultation with the Chief Executive
  13. To work in accordance with the necessary procedures
  14. To actively and positively contribute to the staff review process and to follow up agreed actions
  15. To work at all times in accordance with the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and to follow all company procedures and guidelines which assist this
  16. To work at all times in accordance with the company’s Dignity & Diversity Policy
  17. To undertake such other duties as may be required within the general scope of the job
    Other:
    This job description may be subject to change, in consultation with the postholder, in response to new circumstances.
    Person Specification:
    Essential
     Minimum 3 years’ proven experience in the SME lending sector
     Effective relationship management skills
     Ability to forge networks and generate new business
     Excellent interpersonal communication and presentation skills
     Ability to work well under pressure and meet deadlines
     Effective workload prioritisation and time management skills
     Computer literate (min. MS Office proficiency)
     Adaptable and a team player
     Ability and willingness to travel
     A commitment to the ethos of the Responsible Finance sector
    Desirable
     A degree or equivalent finance/business professional qualification
     Existing networks and contacts relevant to this position
     A good knowledge of the SME business base in the area of coverage
     Knowledge of FCA regulated lending
     Experience of CRM data inputting

How to Apply:

For a copy of the full job description and key terms, please email Louise Lawson at [email protected]

To apply, please email your CV and covering letter explaining why you think you are the best candidate to the Chief Executive at [email protected]   

To discuss the role informally, please contact Grahame Latus on 07817 182242.

Closing Date: Friday 10th July 2020.

Glasses were raised earlier this month when Plau, a historic family-owned pub in Preston won the ‘Conversion Award’ at CAMRA’s prestigious Pub Design Awards.

The awards, which were celebrated in a virtual pub on 7th May, are held annually in conjunction with Historic England and celebrate exceptional pubs across the country that have undergone conversion or conservation work, or are newly built.

Plau was bought in 2014 by husband and wife team, Jeremy and Rebecca Rowlands after they took an interest in the fascinating history behind the premises. Built in 1668 as a butcher’s shop, Plau was first converted into a pub in 1795. However, it was closed in 1913 and would have to wait a further 105 years to be restored and reopened as a pub once more by the duo, with support and financial backing from regional independent lender, Enterprise Answers.

Jeremy Rowlands, owner of Plau said, “We had this romantic notion of a place lost in history and set out plans for its renovation, which quickly escalated into a much bigger project.

“We ended up purchasing a second part of the building, within which we uncovered an 18th century subterranean gin distillery, that has now become our vaulted cellar bar. We also found a 40ft medieval well in the cellar that housed pieces of pottery and historic bottles, which we’ve collated into a display cabinet of curiosities inside Plau”.

Their visionary renovation to bring to reality the four-storey gin and beer house required substantial funds but the couple were unable to obtain finance from their bank. Undeterred, they discussed the matter with their broker who recommended Enterprise Answers.

Grahame Latus, Chief Executive of Enterprise Answers said, “Jeremy and Rebecca approached us in 2017 seeking finance for their renovation project.  Looking at their good track record with similar establishments in the area, it didn’t take us long to realise that they had the creativity and potential to unleash a new cultural venue in Preston.

“We invested a six figure sum over eighteen months, allowing their expanding renovation work to be completed. From when we first visited the site, it was a fascinating project to watch.

“It was a challenging project due to the historical nature of the building, but the finished result has certainly been worth the wait. It’s easy to discard the past sometimes, but the entrepreneurialism of Jeremy and Rebecca shone through in their creative vision to bring history tastefully to the fore at Plau.”

Jeremy commented, “Tony, Louise and Grahame at Enterprise Answers were so supportive right from the start. We found their hands-on approach refreshing and it was important to us that they were genuinely interested and enthusiastic about our project”.

Grahame added, “We have derived a lot of pleasure from investing in Jeremy and Rebecca’s project at Plau and we are delighted that their hard work has been recognised with the CAMRA award”.

Speaking about their Pub Design Awards win, Jeremy said “A member of CAMRA had become aware of our project and we were put forward for the Conversion Award. We submitted the application in summer last year and were blown away when we were announced as the winner”.

Andrew Davidson, Chair of CAMRA’s Pub Design Awards judging panel said “Jeremy Rowlands and their designers, Loe Design have turned a disused and run-down building into a highly attractive pub, its refurbishment informed both by the known history of the building and by features uncovered during the work. Everything has been done with great care and with quality materials. The result is striking – a traditional pub re-imagined for the 21st century!”

From brunch to dinner, great food & drink on the menu

To find out more about Plau visit www.plau.co.uk 

On 21st April, The Toy Shop in Cockermouth became the first business to receive a funding boost through Cumbria’s only accredited delivery partner for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Enterprise Answers.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is designed to support the continued provision of finance to UK smaller businesses (SME’s) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The scheme enables lenders to provide facilities of up to £5m to smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow. It supports a wide range of business finance products, including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance facilities.

Independent lender and family-business supporter, Enterprise Answers are offering the government backed CBILS loan facility to family and non-family SME’s based in either Cumbria, North Lancashire or the Yorkshire Dales.

Chief Executive of Enterprise Answers, Grahame Latus (pictured)  said, “For us it’s about enabling businesses to realise & unleash their potential through the provision of appropriate finance.

Grahame Latus

“We are proud to be the only Cumbria based CBILS Delivery Partner, of some 48 nationwide and we will endeavour to assist as many SME’s as we can through these challenging times.”

The Toy Shop in Cockermouth run by husband and wife team, Jonty and Fiona Chippendale has been a feature of the towns bustling high street for over twenty years. When the government announced the first measures to control the virus, the couple discussed their response;

“We made the decision that it would be too tricky to trade without risk of spreading the disease so we let all our customers and suppliers know that we would close” said Jonty.

“We sat down and looked at our cash flow and it quickly became obvious that if we didn’t get a cash injection, we wouldn’t be able to buy stock and recommence trading on the other side”.

Sadly, enduring hard times is familiar territory for the family business, having been flooded twice during the last several years. Owner Jonty believes this has equipped them with the necessary skills to deal with such challenges, saying “Dealing with adversity has prepared us for coping with tricky situations. If you look around, help is always there.

“This time we knew we couldn’t predict how bad the situation might get, so we set out to apply for all the available help in order to plan for the worst-case scenario”.

“We spoke to our accountant about the situation, who recommended Enterprise Answers to us as a suitable lender. We had begun discussions with our own bank but found it was impossible to make any progress.”

For lender, Enterprise Answers, once the details of the scheme and the accredited partners and lenders were announced by the government, hundreds of enquiries from businesses across the region followed.

“We had to quickly set up a system to efficiently handle all the enquiries coming in, knowing what a worrying time it is for business owners. We enlisted the Family Business Network to assist us with managing those initial enquiries.” said Grahame.

Sue Howorth, Founder and Co-Director of The Family Business Network said, “Enterprise Answers have been closely involved with the work that our Network does within the family business community for several years and they are a fantastic advocate of family businesses. When they approached us to help with the administration of the first stage of the CBILS process, we were more than happy to lend a hand.”

Grahame explained, “These are unprecedented times for businesses, especially the independent retailers who perhaps are feeling the economic impact hardest if they are unable to trade during the current Government lock down. When we were approached by Jonty from The Toy Shop at Cockermouth, we knew it was a business we had to work with.”

“Jonty & his wife Fiona were fantastic to engage with, they fully appreciated our application process and ensured that we had all the information we needed to assess their application for a loan under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme”

Grahame added, “In fact, the information was spot on and it took just 4 working days from picking up the application, to assess it, approve it and deposit the funds in their business bank account. The Toy Shop became the first CBILS loan that we released.”

Speaking about the CBILS application process, Jonty said, “Embarking on an application like this is always a little daunting at first but it was very manageable. Our experience was that aside from the money being essential, the application itself was a useful exercise to go through, as we realised that we hadn’t sat down and done a business plan for a while.

“The process helped us to think through the what if’s and to crystallise what we’d do on the other side. With the help of Enterprise Answers, we were able to apply for the loan quickly. Our advice to other family businesses is not to bury your head in the sand, but be realistic about the situation, look at what help you need and then make a start”.

Grahame of Enterprise Answers added, “Working with businesses such as The Toy Shop will help to ensure that when we emerge from this lockdown, Cumbria retains many of the characteristics that help make it one of the most desirable places to visit.”

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Enterprise Answers lends its support again as Cumbria’s dynamic producers prepare for the UK’s leading food trade event.

A forward-thinking group of Cumbrian businesses and supporters are preparing to attend the three-day Farm Shop & Deli Show at the NEC between 30th March and 1st April 2020.

The ‘This is Cumbria’ collective will once again be taking their branded destination stand, following the success of their first trade event in April 2019.

Initiated by Maria Whitehead of Hawkshead Relish and Lisa Smith of Ginger Bakers in 2018, a group of Cumbrian producers came together to create a ‘big impact’ trade stand that would position the very best of the county’s food, drink and produce in front of the 30,000 key buyers and visitors that the event attracts.

With several new Cumbrian producers on board for 2020 and the continued support pledged by a group of sponsors, the collective aims to build upon last year’s achievements by developing national awareness and championing Cumbrian brands.

The organisers hope to attract attention at the show not only with their unique stand, but through an interactive live stage session to be held on 1st April. The session, ‘Walking in their shoes – what customers really want’ will be led by This is Cumbria partners, Thomas Jardine & Co and The Family Business Network, and will encourage delegates to think like a customer as they sample some delicious Cumbrian produce.  

Keith Jackson of Thomas Jardine & Co said, “We are looking forward to the opportunity to engage with the crowds, draw some extra interest to the stand and tell people what This is Cumbria is all about. Last year, there was a really vibrant feel to our stand and the unique look and concept created plenty of interest amongst the visitors.”

The initiative was able to get off the ground with support from a number of committed Cumbrian sponsors including Cartmell Shepherd, Enterprise Answers, Eclectic Creative, Liberty Workware and Printing Plus who between them, pledged their support for the initiative through funding of the unique ‘Showcase Area’, assisting with uniforms, branding, design and printing.

Mark Morrison of brand consultancy, Eclectic Creative said, “It is great to see such passion for their products in this group of Cumbrian brands. We work with many of them, so when they asked us if we would create their collective branding it was easy to say yes. We are delighted to be involved in championing Cumbria and the superb products and services that originate from this amazing county.”

Grahame Latus of Enterprise Answers commented, Over the years, Enterprise Answers has assisted a number of Cumbria’s food & drink producers, helping them to either start, develop or expand their businesses, with many going on to be award winners. Being a sponsor of This is Cumbria was a natural fit for Enterprise Answers which endorses our support and commitment to this growing sector full of creativity, diversity and quality”

The ‘This is Cumbria’ line up of businesses exhibiting within the unique ‘Showcase Area’ in 2020 include Shed 1 Distillery, Molly Rose Drinks, Cakes from the Lakes, Hawkshead Brewery, Pie Mill, Eden Valley Meat Company and Vies Jamaican Rum Cake. Surrounding them on larger stands will be Hawkshead Relish, Ginger Bakers, Farrers Tea & Coffee, Vegware, Kin Vodka, Lakeland Artisan and Penningtons Liqueurs.   

Exhibitor, Maria Whitehead MBE co-owner of Hawkshead Relish commented: “The Farm Shop & Deli Show is a must attend food and drink show in our annual event calendar. It’s a great opportunity to meet up with new and existing customers, and at the same time spend time networking with industry colleagues and other exhibitors. Since its inception it has become a great vehicle for showcasing Cumbria’s food and drink producers to a much wider audience. By exhibiting as part of This is Cumbria, we can maximise these opportunities, shout louder, share information and even develop collaborative relationships, which will see us all benefit.”

Sue Howorth of The Family Business Network, one of the partners of the initiative said, “This is Cumbria offers a wonderful platform for businesses, giving them a voice outside of the county. It’s particularly beneficial for those who may not have exhibited at large trade shows before as the collective brings exhibitors together to provide friendly and professional support for one another, as well as pre-show PR and social media build up and extra coverage during the show”.

The Farm Shop & Deli Show takes place at the NEC from 30th March -1st April 2020.

This is Cumbria have two 2x2m trade stands remaining as well as sponsorship opportunities for businesses wishing to get involved.  

For more information or if you are interested in exhibiting with ‘This is Cumbria’, contact Keith Jackson on [email protected] or visit https://www.thisiscumbria.co.uk/

More information about the 2020 Farm Shop and Deli Show can be found at https://www.farmshopanddelishow.co.uk/

Below: Food writer Nigel Barden with Maria Whitehead and Jonathan Robb of Hawkshead Relish at the Farm Shop & Deli Show 2019

A group of people posing for the camera

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Below: Claire of Molly Rose Drinks exhibiting within the Showcase Area of This is Cumbria at the Farm Shop & Deli Show 2019

…and Enterprise Answers is a proud sponsor

BUSINESS experts from across the North West of England are coming together to be part of the judging panel for the first North West Family Business Awards, as the clock counts down to the deadline for entries on Thursday, 16 January 2020.

Jacqui Jackson, Chair of the Judges

The panel will meet at Lancaster University on Thursday 23 January to begin the difficult process of selecting the finalists for the prestigious awards.

The new awards dedicated to family businesses from across the North West have grown from the successful Cumbria Family Business Award launched in 2017.

Judges from Cumbria include; Karen Stalker, Managing Director of Stalkers Transport Services Ltd, Simon Glencross, Director of NXT Recruitment, Grahame Latus, Chief Executive of Enterprise Answers, Emma Porter, Managing Director of Story Contracting Limited, Graham Lamont, Chief Executive of accountancy, tax and business advice Lamont Pridmore and Peter Stafford, Managing Director of family law firm Cartmell Shepherd.

Investment: Grahame Latus of Enterprise Answers
Grahame Latus of Enterprise Answers

Chair of the Judges, Jacqui Jackson of Thomas Jardine and Co. said: “‘What a privilege it is to chair the panel of auspicious judges for the inaugural North West Family Business Awards.

“We have two powerful things working in our favour, firstly a plethora of ‘awesomely brilliant’ family businesses in the North West and secondly, a group of skilled judges with distinct lenses and perspectives from which to identify the ‘magic’ combination of family values and business excellence that will represent the very best of our region.”

Cumbrian judge, Peter Stafford of Cartmell Shepherd said: “I believe that Family Business is the lifeblood of our economy, so I will be looking for the story behind the business, what their aims are to be sustainable and future proof their family business as well as the culture of the family business underpinned by the current leadership.”

Joining the Cumbrian judges will be Paul Andrews of Family Business United, Matt Hutchinson Lancaster University’s Family Business Excellence Programme Manager, Sheena McDermott North West Programme Manager for Be the Business, Lucy Powers Director of Chester based Bamboo by HM, Jane Montague Client Services Director for Majestic Publications, Christian Mancier Partner and Commercial Law Specialist at Gorvins Solicitors and Dawn Duggan, Business Growth Hub Leader.

Sue Howorth and Dave Clarkson of The Family Business Network

Co-Director of The Family Business Network, Dave Clarkson said: “Celebrating the successes of family businesses is important to us, to help raise the profile of the sector and champion those individuals involved.

“We were able to do this through the creation and running of the Cumbria Family Business Awards which have taken place annually since 2017. Many of the businesses who took part in the awards have told us how beneficial the process has been to their brand awareness, and business growth through their achievements being recognised.

“Now in 2020, we see these awards evolve into our inaugural North West Family Business Awards, which aim to provide an opportunity for North West family firms to share and celebrate their successes.”

Founder and Co-Director of The Family Business Network, Sue Howorth said: “We are delighted to provide the opportunity for family firms from Lancashire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside, as well as Cumbria to share and celebrate their achievements through the awards – and expand our judging panel to reflect and represent the whole of the North West.

“We have such a great wealth of experience and business knowledge on the judging panel – many of whom are part of or work closely with family businesses in the area.

“It will be a difficult job to select the finalists, and we are grateful to all the judges for accepting the invitation, and volunteering to be part of the awards.

“Businesses can either be nominated or can enter themselves, however, you’ll have to act quickly as the closing date of 16 January 2020 is fast approaching. For companies looking to support and associate with the sector or simply be a part of the event, we offer a range of opportunities through partnership and sponsorship of the awards.”

Taking place on Friday 6 March, the awards will take off in true first-class style, under the wings of Concorde at The Manchester Airport Runway Visitor Park. Entries are open to businesses located in Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside, Lancashire or Cumbria that have at least two family members working within them.

Supporting the farming community has always been an integral part of Enterprise Answers business model and the creation of the Young Farmer loan scheme to run alongside the business support programme, “Farming ambition – Business Support for Young People” is testament to their commitment.

“When we heard The Princes Trust were withdrawing their existing loan facility, which was in place until the summer of 2019 to run alongside the Farming Ambition program, we felt the urge to respond with a replacement scheme” said Enterprise Answers Chief Executive, Grahame Latus.

“We recognise that many agricultural businesses are family businesses and the next generation will  require support and assistance to continue running”.

Through engaging with Kate Gascoyne of The Farmer Network based at Newton Rigg College in  Penrith, Enterprise Answers were able to set up a collaboration that would  drive the initiative forwards and ensure the support scheme to young farmers could remain in place with capital for the loan fund provided by Carlisle based H&H Group.

H&H Group Chief Executive, Richard Rankin said, “What we are looking to do is to connect with the next generation and entrepreneurship and to encourage young farmers to remain in farming, look at the wider picture, identify opportunities and diversify if necessary”.

Kate Gascoyne of The Farmer Network commented, “We are excited to be working with Enterprise Answers and H&H Group. It’s always extremely rewarding to see a young person with an initial idea seeking this support and seeing their plans come to fruition”.

Applying for the fund has been kept as simple as possible. The applicant should be from a rural or agricultural background and the project or enterprise they are planning should be farming-related and benefit or service the rural community.

“These are challenging times for farming and rural communities” concluded Grahame. “If we can do our bit to support and assist in rural areas, especially with the young or next generation, enabling them to realise their creativity and unleash their potential, it will go some way to enhancing the economic viability of our countryside”.

For more information, including case studies of previous applicants, please visit the Farmer Network website https://www.thefarmernetwork.co.uk/

For further details of the range of loan finance available from Enterprise Answers, please visit their website https://www.enterpriseanswers.co.uk/

Details of the range of services provided by H&H Group for agricultural and rural businesses can be found on their website https://hhgroupplc.co.uk/