AN AWARD ceremony has highlighted both the achievements and challenges faced by Blackburn and Darwen businesses after a year like no other.

The 2020 Hive Awards, hosted by Blackburn-born comedian Tez Ilyas on Thursday November 26, had no option but to move into the virtual world but still hoped to have successfully highlighted the work being done by various companies across the borough.

Amongst those honoured were the CMAC Group, Unit 2 Fitness for Women, Blackburn Youth Zone and Cube HR Consultancy Limited.

HIVE chairman Ian Brown: “In these unprecedented times it has been heart-warming to see the communities of Blackburn with Darwen come together to support each other, our key workers and of course our NHS.

“We were very humbled by the nominations we received, and it really shows how we can come together in times of desperate need to support each other.”

However, while celebrating their achievements businesses in Blackburn and beyond are aware of the challenges they face in the future with the awards coming in the same week as chancellor Rishi Sunak’s autumn statement.

Firms have welcomed new spending commitments but have been cautious about the impact the pandemic is likely to have had on unemployment levels.

Managing partner of Blackburn accountancy firm and previous HIVE Award nominee PM+M Jane Parry said: “The announcement that £3 billion will be spent on the new restart programme for those who have been unemployed over a year was welcome.

“His admission that not every job can be saved and his prediction that unemployment would peak at 2.6m was candid.

“This is a scary figure but not a surprising one.”

She added: “The chancellor is in a difficult position as we are still in the midst of the pandemic.

“He emphasised that the key to us emerging from it is intact is for government support to continue and for businesses, people are communities to be at the heart of everything it hopes to achieve.”

Meanwhile regional utilities firm Electricity North West hoped that this could prove to be an opportunity to reset the UK economy in a more environmentally friendly direction.

CEO Peter Emery said: “More will need to be done in the years to come, but we have a huge opportunity now to drive the UK’s recovery from Covid-19 by investing in the green economy.

“At Electricity North West, we are in the middle of our largest ever public engagement programme and it is clear from what we have heard so far that people across the North West want us to be proactive and step up our support for the transition to zero carbon.”

By the time the business community comes together again for next year's awards they will be aware that they could be facing a very different economic landscape.

The full list of businesses nominated were:

  • WEC Group Ltd
  • CMAC Group
  • Unit 2 Fitness For Women
  • Blackburn Youth Zone
  • Creative Football
  • The Wish Centre
  • The Wellbeing Farm
  • Ewood Experience at Blackburn Rovers
  • Pierce CA ltd
  • CUBE HR Consultancy Limited
  • Blackburn Sea Cadets
  • Pulford Farm Dairies