A standing ovation greeted the announcement of Amanda Meachin as Lancashire Business View’s 2023 personality of the year.
A stunned Amanda received the honour at the magazine’s Lancashire Business Day celebration, a sell-out event at Accrington Stanley’s 1968 lounge attended by 130 guests.
Earlier they had heard of her remarkable story of resilience and her journey from being a single mum at 14, expelled from school at 16, to being appointed chief executive of Blackburn headquartered Community & Business Partners CIC (CBP).
Lancashire Business View chairman and publisher Richard Slater described her as “a force of nature” who continues to make a difference.
Speaking earlier in a panel discussion exploring the day’s themes of resilience, heritage and personal journeys, Amanda had shared her story.
It included being told she was “good for nothing” by her school as they kicked her out, her struggles as a young single mum on a council estate and the death of her parents from alcoholism.
Despite never having taking an exam her unwavering determination saw her build a career that propelled her to her role at CBP, where she transformed the organisation into a thriving business and community support powerhouse with an annual turnover of more than £1m.
She told the audience: “Business is all about people and how you treat them, giving them a voice and a purpose and helping them to achieve what they want achieve.”
And she added: “Resilience is all about being able to take the knocks and to just keep getting back up again.”
Rupert Gatty, chief executive of Coolkit, the UK’s largest specialist in temperature controlled van conversions, also shared his story of resilience in the face of adversity.
He explained how the business has risen from the ashes of a fire this summer that devastated its main manufacturing unit in Burnley. Coolkit now has new premises in Blackburn and is looking to continue its impressive growth journey.
Rupert paid tribute to his team for their response to the crisis and the support received from the local business community. He said: “It was not a time to give up, it was a time to dig deeper into our reserves of tenacity.”
Marco Vaghetti, founder of footwear brand LANX, which is based in Whalley, recounted how he created the business, which began life on a market stall six years ago, and which now has a £4m turnover and ambitious growth plans.
He spoke of the importance of Lancashire to the brand’s DNA and he shared his future vision of LANX setting up its own manufacturing operation in the county.
Gemma Cornwall, director of Ribble Valley based start-up Viridium, also shared her journey from teaching in a classroom to setting up her new ethical building surveying practice.
The special celebration of the red rose county and all organisations that call it their home also included a panel discussion looking at ‘Future Lancashire’.
Ben Duckworth, marketing director of LCM Environmental, David Hammond, chief executive of Chiptech and Niamh Allen, sales and marketing director of IoT Horizon, were joined on the stage by Hyndburn councillor and the borough’s lead on economic growth and sustainability, Zak Khan.
Topics they covered included the positive role of digital technologies, the potential of the Internet of Things for businesses and the drive for green sector growth.
The afternoon began with the traditional Lancashire Day proclamation, read by Lytham’s town crier Kila Redfearn.
Dave Walker, managing director of +24 and headline sponsor, said: “We were very proud to be a part of Lancashire Business Day. At +24, we believe in the power of collaboration and the strength that comes from supporting one another. Lancashire Business Day encapsulates this perfectly, bringing together business and community leaders who contribute to the dynamic economic landscape of our region.
“We are proud to work with lots of talented Lancashire businesses to deliver some of our innovative services to clients all over the world, whether that's marketing strategy, branding or software automation. As we look forward to future collaborations and continued growth, we remain committed to championing the spirit of Lancashire Business Day and the incredible businesses that make our county truly exceptional.”
The headline sponsor for this year’s gathering was +24. Event patrons were Allica Bank, Beever and Struthers, Botany Bay Business Park, Brabners, Burnley College, Ember Energy, Hyndburn Borough Council and Stanley House Hotel and Spa. The event was also supported by Toyota Preston.
Commemorated every year since 2017, Lancashire Business Day coincides with Lancashire Day, which celebrates the day in November when the county first sent representatives to parliament, more than 700 years ago.
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