ONE of East Lancashire's best kept secrets stepped into the spotlight last night to be crowned the Lancashire Telegraph Business of the Year.

Office furniture company Senator International, Altham, scooped the top prize in a glittering ceremony at the Dunkenhalgh Hotel, attended by almost 300 of the business community's brightest and best.

In total, eight firms were handed awards, with Prosperity Recycling, Accrington, scooping Best Environmental Achievement, and OTAMate Technology Ltd, Blackburn, the award for Outstanding IT/Digital Media Achievement - both new awards.

SJA Film Technologies Ltd, Altham, was handed the gong for Small Business of the Year; Radal Technology, Burnley, for Innovation and Design; and Equestrian Surfaces Ltd, Padiham, Deal of the Year.

Tracy Keen of Bowlplex, Blackburn, was named as Employee of the Year and Fort Vale, Nelson, was given the award for Excellence in Training.

The awards were opened by Kevin Young, editor of the Lancashire Telegraph, who said: "This year's awards attracted a record level of entries setting the judges an even more difficult task than ever, a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit which is the lifeblood to the area."