The big winner at the 2011 Lancashire Telegraph Business Awards was Merc Engineering Group, a global leader in manufacturing products from components for torpedoes to emergency exit doors for metro systems.

Bosses at the Barrowford-based engineering firm, which has a staff of 88 and turnover of £7million, believe their Business of the Year Award for success in highly-skilled manufacturing points the way out of the recession for the area.

Les Nuttall, managing director, said: “It is great to represent manufacturing. The industry is helping to pull East Lancashire out of the recession.

"Manufacturing is the lifeblood of East Lancashire so this is a big coup.

“It is a fantastic accolade against two much bigger companies. As soon as we saw the shortlist we thought, ‘Oh well, we haven’t got a chance!

"Aircelle and Fort Vale have done a really good job themselves over the last 12 months, so to win the award when you see their results, is a big success story for us.”

Jon Hoyle, commercial director, said: “We were shocked to win. We are really proud to have got this far. It is a big thing to be able to tell the whole workforce. This is for them.”

Last year’s winner Gareth Frankland, managing director of ACDC Lighting, also in Barrowford, presented the prestigious award.

He said: “It was a privilege and an honour. It is a shot in the arm and recognition for success.”