THE TEESDALE Business awards were presented before a packed audience in the The Witham Hall, Barnard Castle.

Business advisor John Atkinson and Teesdale businesswoman and voiceover artist, Emma Hignett, hosted the evening while the keynote speaker was Brian Archer, managing director at Business Durham.

Equus Leather scooped four trophies including best business, most innovative business, digital impact and best business trading outside Teesdale. They were the first in the awards' history to be so successful.

Other winners included apprentice of the year Josh Barker who has risen from volunteer to youth worker with YMCA Teesdale, and the Barnard Castle Christmas Lights which won the community engagement project for engaging the whole community and bringing the town to life over the festive period.

Peter Dixon, one of the organisers of the event, said: "This has been a brilliant night that shows the talent that is in abundance in Teesdale but which we often take for granted.

"Tonight we have heard much about the hardworking, creative and enthusiastic business people that, through their efforts, have brought success to their organisations. Perhaps a cliché but all the judges commented on how, with such a set of rich nominations, it was exceptionally hard to shortlist the finalists and choose an overall winner."

The winners were. – Apprentice: Josh Barker, YMCA Teesdale; Entrepreneur: Tommy Lowther; Social responsibility: East Briscoe Farm Cottages. Community engagement project: Barnard Castle Christmas Lights. Social enterprise: Music at the Heart of Teesdale. Customer focus: 999 Fire and Safety. Growth business: Bell Access & Engineering. New business: Ellipse Fabrications. Innovative business, digital impact, business trading outside Teesdale, and overall best business: Equus Leather.