AN OVERWHELMING number of Press Business Awards entries meant it was perhaps the toughest year yet for the judging panel to whittle down its shortlist.

Now in their 29th year, the 2019 awards are sponsored by York’s Ultra Fibre Optic by TalkTalk. Together we are championing companies and individuals that have been exploiting new opportunities, creating wealth, employing more people and contributing to the local economy.

In the only regional awards event of their kind, celebrating businesses from all sectors across York, North and East Yorkshire, the awards recognise the entrepreneurial successes of individuals and small and large enterprises in various areas of best practice.

This year we will celebrate businesses in 10 categories, with an overall Business of the Year winner to be announced on the night.

Our expert judging panel had more than 100 entries to read through, but the debate is over, and three finalists have been chosen to go forward in each of the categories. Those finalists will be invited to attend a black-tie dinner at York Racecourse on Thursday, November 21 where the winners will be announced.

The shortlisted businesses are:

Large Business of the Year

The Skills Network, which is a leading international training provider specialising in online learning qualifications, learning technologies and apprenticeships.

Soanes Poultry was founded by Tom Soanes as a farm-based business in 1947 and is now one of the area’s largest employers.

Johnsons of Whixley is a trusted supplier of plants and trees and one of the largest and longest-established and commercial nursery businesses in Europe.

Small Business of the Year

Netsells is a product development agency that develops digital platforms and products for businesses and start-ups looking to build profitable digital assets.

ISF is a market leader in materials handling and process engineering specialising in the animal feed sector.

Rotacloud is a staff scheduling and attendance platform started by former school friends working from their shared home in York.

New Business of the Year

York Gin hand make, bottle, label, distribute and market high quality gins from a small distillery in Acaster Malbis.

Ilke Homes use of 3-D interactive technology to design and manufacture highest standard homes for a variety of wide range of clients and price points.

Angela Bare. ‘A shoe retailer with a difference’ is how Angela Langton describes her retail business which stepped out onto the streets of York in November 2017.

Socially Responsible Business of the Year

Benenden Health say that ‘wellbeing is embedded into our culture, through our ways of working and people processes, which are all underpinned by how we promote a culture of care, respect, compassion and wellbeing with our ‘be caring’ value’.

Torque Law, last year’s winners in the New Business category, has experienced even more phenomenal growth in the past 12 months.

Choc Affair was born out of a love for chocolate and a desire to be an ethical, socially-responsible company, having a positive impact within the community.

Retail, Tourism and Leisure Business of the Year

Spirit of Yorkshire bills itself as Yorkshire’s first whisky distillery. “We are a small team of dedicated individuals making an amazing product,” they say.

Jorvik Viking Centre says by constantly improving staff training and visitor interaction it is more accessible and engaging than ever.

Humble Bee Leisure has been welcoming guests to its cabins, yurts campsite and cottages for over 11 years.

Exporter of the Year

Maxwell-Scott, a luxury British leather brand founded by Harrogate-born William Scott Forshaw in 2002.

Maximise PM Ltd. When you go fragrance shopping to a high-street beauty store or airport duty-free, Maximise PM probably supplied the card strip you test it on.

Wold Top Brewery was brewing 1,600 litres per week with no paid staff in 2003, now production is up to 40,000 litres per week with a staff of 18.

Business Personality of the Year

Patricia Sherriff. Over the past nine years, Tricia has built up a successful luxury membership club, She Loves York, through hard work, determination, clear vision and dedication to providing a quality product and service to consumers.

Graham Usher, co- director of MATTGRAY Hospitality, a successful consultancy business that focuses on offering expertise in sales, marketing, brand development, food and beverage and project management coordination.

Tarnia Hudson is a director of Hudson Moody Estate Agents, working alongside her husband Ben who was a co-founder of the business more than 20 years ago.

Employer of the Year

Home Instead believes that if it wants to excel at caring for older people at home, it must start by caring about its employees and their wellbeing.

Benenden Health is a health and wellbeing not for profit organisation providing an affordable alternative to health insurance for its members, and it takes this just as seriously for its staff.

ilke Homes - Dean Lawman, a team member at the firm says: “Working within such an innovative and pioneering company is exciting, but it is the people that have made my time here so enjoyable.”

Business Innovation of the Year

Tancream Ltd, based in Easingwold, manufactures what it calls ‘the ‘world’s first’ premium sun cream that includes SPF 50, UVA five-star protection, instant bronzer, anti-ageing benefits and is also a luxury daily moisturiser with added self-tan”.

Netsells. Having doubled in size each year since its move to York in 2014, the team works with a wide range of clients, from innovative start-ups to large household names, building bespoke platforms and applications across web and mobile.

Roche Legal say they are constantly challenging themselves to provide a uniquely imaginative service.

Family Business of the Year

Johnsons of Whixley truly is a family business, with three generations of the Richardson family currently on the team.

Playscheme was started more than 20 years ago by father and son joiners, John and Steve Danby, who were building sets for York theatres and touring productions.

Glencor Golf Holidays Limited was started in 1995 by ‘golf mad’ Peter Renton. It’s grown significantly in recent years, partly due to Peter’s sons getting on board.