THE crème de la crème of East Lancashire’s business community stepped out for a spectacular celebration of what the region has to offer at the Lancashire Telegraph Business Awards.

Sponsored by Blackburn College, the glamorous ceremony at Ewood Park saw trophies being presented in 11 categories in a party atmosphere.

The evening started with Editor Kevin Young welcoming delegates and praising the success of the region’s top businesses.

Mr Young said: “The night really was about the people and their fantastic achievements to get to this stage.

“I say every year that nobody is a loser, but it really is an achievement to get into the top 10 of your category, probably more now than it was 10 years ago.”

As well as a three-course meal cooked in a Michelin-starred Northcote kitchen, the crowd was treated to a special performance by entertainers Chefs Encore, who posed as waiters before breaking out into song.

They had the audience clapping along and dancing in their seats to well-known classics, before making sure everybody got up and joined a conga line.

The night was hosted by comedian Norman Prince who compered the presentations.

Mike Damms, chairman of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Events like this just tell us that we are confident and we should tell the world how great East Lancashire businesses are.

“It is wonderful and just the thing to do. Congratulations to everybody.

“This is supposedly a recession, but there are lots of companies doing well.

“The population of East Lancashire is up for it, they have a good work ethic and are creative and innovative.”

Both Mr Damms and Mr Young criticised a recent Sky report that portrayed Burnley as a drain on the economy.

Mr Damms said: “The same people who produced the report would probably think that we don’t make anything anymore.

“My advice is just get over it quickly. I am more bothered about what our customers want.

“I don’t think the Sky report really cost us an investor or caused anybody to doubt the people who work in the area.

“If they can’t be bothered to do their homework properly, the best thing is to ignore them.”

The evening ended with a disco, with all of the nominees strutting their stuff on the dancefloor.

Ian Woods, site director at BAE’s Samlesbury site, said: “It was a fantastic night, we love these awards.

“We are a big business in this region and we have a lot of supply chain in East Lancashire so we are always pleased to sponsor these awards.

“There is a lot to be enthusiastic about and we have seen some great results and that has got to be encouraging.”

Coun Kate Hollern, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “The ceremony was a great demonstration of what East Lancashire has got to give.

“There were some real entrepreneurs there and I was particularly pleased for Reidy’s, they are a massive part of Blackburn town centre.

“I really hope this is a good sign for small businesses in the town.

“East Lancashire has certainly got a lot to offer.”