My Friday evening usually follow the same routine… shop on the way home, cook a meal, tune in to the pre-match banter on Radio Lancashire and then kick back and relax at home.
For me, last Friday was very different. We were invited to attend the Rochdale Business Awards held at the Town Hall in Rochdale. From the moment we arrived there was a real buzz in the air, a sense of anticipation, laughter, chatter and smiles. During the reception, we were entertained by a very talented young magician who mesmerised us with his card tricks – I didn’t realise this was now part of the Key Stage 2 curriculum! There was also a balloon modeller who created the most wonderful shapes and creatures from dolphins to giraffes – I think I must have followed the wrong career path!
The whole event was planned down to the last detail and showed how Rochdale partners could come together and celebrate the many achievements of local businesses. We took our seats at the front of the stage. We were hosted on a table with colleagues from Hopwood Hall College and the MP for Rochdale. The introduction to the event was a whistle-stop tour of the different areas of Rochdale viewed from the windscreen of the car. What amazed me was how great Rochdale looked and how different the areas are but I also found myself leaning into the corners as we went around the bends at a fast speed.
Each award was introduced by a short video showing the everyday work of the businesses shortlisted. It was a real learning experience for me to see the range of businesses represented on the evening. Each shortlisted business was invited onto the stage to celebrate and presented with a framed certificate before the winner of the category was announced.
Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale was shortlisted in the Business of the Year category (for businesses with a turnover between £1m and £5m). We were delighted to get as far as the shortlist. Our award was the penultimate one of the evening so we had to sit through all three courses (and coffee) before it was our turn. In our heels and finery, we clambered on to the stage, with butterflies and anticipation, awaiting the sponsor of the award, the Finance Director from Jackson Jackson and Sons to make the final announcement of the winner. I did not hear her read out our name, I just heard Crystal (my fellow Groundworker) let out a mighty whoop and jump six foot in the air. We were then engulfed by hugs, handshakes from the other shortlisted businesses and then we fixed the smiles on our faces ready for the photo calls!
It was an amazing evening for us to be recognised in this way. Both Crystal and I left the stage bursting with pride. Our colleagues at the table from Hopwood Hall College celebrated with us. A number of partners from Rochdale MBC and other training organisations came over to congratulate us and to say that they were pleased to see a third sector charity winning this category. They said that Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale has a great track record of working with partners to add value to what they do and that what makes us different is that our focus is on helping people and organisations make changes in order to create better neighbourhoods, to build skills and job prospects and to live and work in a greener way
News has spread fast and we have been contacted this week by a number of local partners interested in working with us.
For me, this award not only recognises the hard work and focus of those associated with the Trust but also acknowledges that we have moved from an organisation with limited reserves to one which has managed to keep its head above water whilst at the same time investing in training, accreditation and improving the infrastructure of the business.
By Vicki Devonport, Executive Director.