This year’s Harrogate Advertiser Business Excellence Awards winners were revealed at a vibrant black-tie celebration of the region’s business revival following two years of tough pandemic restrictions.
The Harrogate Bus Company took the coveted Large Company of the Year trophy, following the firm’s amazing recovery from the impact of COVID-19. Judges praised its success in attracting customers back to its buses, launching a people-centred recruitment drive and winning funding for a multi-million-pound all-electric bus revolution in the years ahead.
Meanwhile 20-year-old rising star Owen Baxter, who beat 50 applicants to join the bus firm in August 2021, received the Apprentice/Trainee of the Year award.
Transdev CEO Alex Hornby said: “I’m absolutely delighted for everyone in our Harrogate team – after a challenging few years, they thoroughly deserve this recognition for the amazing work they do to keep our town moving.
“Any successful business depends on its people, and our Harrogate team continue to put our customers first. They made sure our buses were clean, safe, and ready to go for key workers and others who needed to travel – and at the same time, we have kept our eye on the future and look forward to creating a fully zero emission bus system within the next few years.
“I’m especially proud of Owen Baxter, who has worked incredibly hard since he joined us. His ability to adapt to new ways of working and his passion for our industry are clear for all to see.
“In a relatively short time, Owen has already progressed from straightforward tasks such as replacing a wheel or basic electrical repairs to much more complex work with electronics. He certainly has the right personal qualities to go a long way in our industry.”
A proud Owen Baxter said: “Learning from the great team in our workshops is a privilege, and this award is a tribute to them for all the patience and support they’ve given me.
“So many companies just employ people because they’re local, rather than looking for the right mix of skills and attitude, which together can take you a long way. I know I have an exciting future to look forward to, and I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to be where I am right now.”
The awards event at Pavilions of Harrogate on the Great Yorkshire Showground was presented by former ITV Calendar presenter Duncan Wood, who stepped in to replace legendary BBC TV presenter Harry Gration, the voice of Harrogate’s 36 buses, who sadly died last week.
The Harrogate Advertiser Business Excellence Awards are in their 17th year: the 2022 event was attended by leading figures including Harrogate Borough Council Chief Executive Wallace Sampson, Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones, and the Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, David A. Kerfoot CBE DL.
Businesses of varying types and sizes from a village shop to a leading national firm were named among the winners in 14 categories, each celebrating the achievements of an individual or team.