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Jason and Amrita Govindji-Bruce celebrate winning the top Beacon Award at

 Hyndburn Business Awards for their company NORI HR & Employment Law.

From left Deborah Clark, Chief Executive of sponsor Community Solutions North West Limited, presents Emma Astley of Cover My Bubble LTD with the Customer Friendly Business trophy.

From left, Acorns of Lancashire Brendan Duffy with Geoff Barnes from the Hyndburn Hub, Pride of Hyndburn winner.

From left, sponsor Danielle Smith from Just Imagine UK presents Creative Business winner Hollie Barnes from Feral & Funky Kids Co with her trophy.

Dawn Roberts, left, on behalf of sponsor Pure Perfection presents the Health and Beauty Business trophy to Kay Johnston of Karma Minds Training & Personal Development Ltd

Charlotte Scheffmann from sponsor Nelson & Colne College Group presents the Workforce Development trophy to John Hutchison from Advocacy Focus.

Ben Lee from Sundown Group presents the Enterprising Trophy to Rebecca Hodgson, Chief Executive of Carers Link Lancashire.

From left, Emma Astley from sponsor Cover My Bubble presents the Independent Retailer trophy to Deryn Regan of Westend Fish and Chips.

From left, Alexis Valentine on behalf of sponsor lovelocalnetworking presents Jason Gonindji-Bruce of NORI HR and Employment Law with the B2B Business trophy.

From left, Rob Carder, on behalf of sponsor the Accrington Observer presents the Not for Profit award to David Hughes of Community Solutions North West Limited.

From left, Hyndburn and Haslingden MP Sara Britcliffe on behalf of sponsor Silverwoods Waste Management Limited, presents Naomi Mullan of Little Secrets Clothing Ltd with the Small Business trophy.

Dawn Roberts, on behalf of sponsor Woodcocks Haworth & Nuttall presents the New Business award to Daniel Robinson from East Lancs Hot Tub Hire.

From left, sponsor Liz Pollard presents the Sole Trader trophy to Razia Mahmood of House of Fusion – Dance & Community Arts.

From left, Gayle Knight from sponsor Civic Arts Centre and Theatre presents Samantha Prestage of Samantha’s Clubhouse Childminding Services with the MicroBusiness trophy. Lisa Struthers from sponsor NORI HR & Employment Law presents Steven Laming from Community Solutions North West Limited with the Medium Business trophy.

Mark Schofield from sponsor Haworths Chartered Accountants presents Carolyn Reed from Carers Link Lancashire with the Large Business trophy. Ben Lee from sponsor Sundown Group presents Tom Dutton, representing Olivia Whittaker of Little Liv’s Bakery with the Made In Hyndburn trophy.

All pictures are copyright and courtesy of: Liz Henson Photography

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Olivia Booth is just turning 24 years old this month, but already she has made her mark on the Beauty Business.

Olivia, who owns The Illusion in Accrington’s Warner Street, told me:

“I started the business when I was seventeen and took a real chance when I took on the double shop a couple of years ago, but so far, it seems to be paying off.” The shop used to be Marsden’s and sold leather goods but Olivia has given it a massive makeover.

The Illusion not only does hair, nails and make-up but also offers aesthetics and facial treatments.

Olivia said:

“I started the business on my own but now there are fifteen of us.”

Amongst her employees, there are make-up professionals, hairdressers and a qualified registered nurse for the aesthetics side of the business. Olivia, herself has worked on the make-up side from the start and caters for many weddings, but she stressed that what she had brought to the town was a message that make-up wasn’t just for special occasions, but for a normal night out.

Olivia has also created her own brand of eyelashes called Lu Lashes and offers masterclasses in the art of Make-up at her Make-Up Academy within the salon. The latest one was on October 4th this year and all participants received a goody bag for signing up.

It doesn’t stop there though. Olivia also has her own range of tunics, the first batch of which she tells me, sold out on her website in just three weeks. The tunics are worn all over the UK and she is exploring the possibility of including Ireland and other countries eventually.

She explained to me:

“I used to go in hairdressers and other beauty places and I noticed that many of the technicians weren’t wearing a tunic. When I asked them why, they said that what was available was very old-fashioned and some of the designs were quite restrictive. My tunics allow more freedom of movement and are of a much more modern design that appeals to younger people.”

Olivia attended Hollins School in the town and I asked her if she had little money making schemes at school like many entrepreneurs do. I wasn’t disappointed as she told me:

“I used to do their make-up. That’s where it all started really.”

Olivia is certainly a remarkable young woman and it was a pleasure to do this interview. I wish her all the success she richly deserves, especially in these challenging times.

If you want to know more about her business, you can visit the website at: www.theillusion.co.uk 

The Apprentice didn’t air this year because of Covid and we had to make do with series highlights, but if it comes back in 2021 I would advise Olivia to give it some serious thought, because no matter the competition, I think she would give them a run for their money and impress Lord Sugar. Just saying…

© Peter Jones 2020


The quality of entries this year has been very high. We have seen some remarkable stories in the entries about businesses responding to the coronavirus situation not just to get by, but to find new ways to trade and serve their customers. Reading through all the entries has been inspiring. I feel proud to be a part of this business community. 

The judging panel is now in (virtual) discussion to decide this year’s winners. 

Our main concern is the already much delayed ceremony. Due to the continuing local lockdown conditions, we know that the September date (the 15th) can’t happen.

It is also pretty certain that the October date (the 20th) is very unlikely now. So, we’re left with November 17th, and unless something radical changes about social distancing at venues that allows them to open at near capacity, we face making a reluctant decision to have a virtual ceremony this year rather than dragging things out any longer.


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An iconic brand that put Accrington on the international map won the most inspirational business title for its football and community trust. The special glass trophy, engraved by Alexis Valentine of Walking on Glass, was presented to Accrington Stanley Football Club and Accrington Stanley Community Trust.

The two had been named as finalists in three categories at the fourth Hyndburn Business Awards, but when it came to the last award; their symbiotic relationship meant judges could not separate them.

The football club saw average gates increase by 1,000 to 2,800 this year while the community club engaged with 17,000 people aged two to 82.

David Burgess, Managing Director of the football club, and Martin Fearon, Chief Executive Officer of the community club, were delighted to jointly win the trophy.

David said: “I was hoping that the award would go to both of us because we work together all the time and everything we do is based around football and the community; without each other we wouldn’t be Accrington Stanley.

“It is not our football club it is the community’s and long after we are gone there will still be an Accrington Stanley.”

Finalists, sponsors and supporters totalled nearly 290 and filled the ballroom at Accrington Town Hall to find out who had won the coveted 17 titles.

Two businesses - Rosslee Construction and The Bridal Lounge of Accrington - walked away with two trophies apiece.

The largest cheer of the night was received by Managing Director of Champ Funeral Services Ltd, Lianna Champ when she was awarded Enterprising Woman; her business also won the Made In Hyndburn title.

The standard of entries was so high that judges awarded seven highly commended

One award - the Pride of Hyndburn - was shared between Accrington Royal British Legion and Leanne Wick. Standard bearer Jim Gannon proudly carried the flag onto the stage and afterwards described receiving the award as ‘exhilarating and unexpected’.

The legion worked with schools and youth groups to arrange the cleaning of soldiers’ graves “The connection tonight is amazing and people are now talking about those soldiers so they will never be forgotten.”

Leanne Wick was stunned to be nominated, but the fundraising she selflessly embarked on for her friend’s children raised £30,000. Louise Maden explained how Leanne decided to raise money so her nine-year-old daughters, who both have autism, could have a sensory room.

She said: “When she realised she had been nominated she was embarrassed. The girls love the room and it is amazing and once they are in there they are so calm and contented. When Leanne won the award we were all crying.”

A public vote for the Accrington Observer Evonne Harwood trophy saw Walk with Lancashire Women - a walk between Burnley and Blackburn which raised £6,000 - take the title.

The awards are organised by Rob Carder and his team from Enterprising People. He praised the finalists for being among the top two per cent of all businesses in Hyndburn.

For pictures of the night, please click here

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This year sees the 60th anniversary of Whewell’s Timber in Accrington as a Limited Company. The story doesn’t start there though as Gordon Whewell reminded me. His parents, Rowland and Olive were the prime movers.

“The story of the family business started in 1947, two years after the war, when my father bought a run-down hardware shop in Warner Street. He still worked part time at Lang Bridges and my mother worked at Woolworths as a window dresser.

“She gave up her job and started in the shop selling hardware. From there, my father, an engineer, started cutting keys and repairing locks.”

The shop in question was number 45 Warner Street, on the corner of Cross Street and although Rowland and Olive called it The Big Key Shop, it was always known as Key Joe’s to the locals. Gordon thinks that it might have been the name of the previous owner of the shop.

Between 1947 and 1954 the family lived above the shop until Rowland had enough for the deposit on a house, Gordon told me.

As business grew and expanded into selling hardboard and beadings plus other timbers and Formica, the little shop became inadequate and Rowland bought another one on the corner of Cross Street and Oak Street. Gordon said of those early days:

“They had a little saw. It was only on the floor and you had to kneel on the floor and push the hardboard through the saw to cut it to size.”

As the company need somewhere to store the wood, Gordon went on:

“He rented a warehouse, which is part of what we now own. It was just one big room. We started selling hardboard and other products from there and now, as many people know we own quite a sizeable property in Bridge Street. We own half the properties in the street.”

Whewell’s is essentially a family business and Gordon’s son, Michael, runs it along with his father, and now a third generation is part of the company in the shape of Michael’s son. I put it to them that it was great to see such a thriving business in the town in light of so many closures. Gordon said that was largely due to the fact that they had a staff that all understood the business and some good customers.

Michael joined the company straight from school and I asked him what he remembered when he just started out and what the business was like at that time. He told me:

“When I started it was already here. All the buildings we have now, except The Toolbox”.

The Tool Box was acquired around twenty years ago on the site of what was then the Central Working Men’s Club in Bridge Street. Michael continued:

“There were few places to get tools in Accrington so it was an opportunity we took.

“We opened with three things really: hardware and ironmongery, which the Key Shop used to do; locks and keys and also tools: hand tools and power tools. It has been very successful. Obviously since then with the advent of the Internet which all the high street’s suffering from, and we are no different, it just makes you more competitive really.”

Michael did say though that one advantage they had over the Internet is the personal touch.

“We can get things in to order that people might find difficult to find online. He went on:

“You can’t ask those questions online. You have got to tell it what you want. You’ve got to know exactly what you are looking for and if you make a mistake there’s nobody else to blame; whereas, if you come in here and don’t know exactly what you want, we can ask you the questions to try to ascertain the right product for your needs.”

Michael also told me that one of the ways to succeed is to recognise what is in trend and cater for it. Hardboard was something that everyone wanted to panel their doors with in the 1960s and 70s for instance, but not today and MDF is now one of their top selling products. Their customers include DIY enthusiasts and tradesmen alike, and sometimes they will act as a go between to find a tradesman to help the ones who get a little out of their depth.

Talking to Gordon and Michael gave me a real insight into why they are still going strong after all these years and on behalf of Acorn News I wish them good luck for the next sixty years and beyond.

© Peter Jones 2018

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Musbury Fabrics have been housed at Park Mill, Helmshore since the 1990s. The company, owned by Alistair Mitchell and Kathryn Carr, specialise in bespoke bedding, curtains, cushions, window blinds and many other soft furnishings.

They manufacture a variety of custom made products in their on-site factory in Haslingden and specialise in the making up of curtain fabrics by a team of experienced and highly skilled machinists who also have specialist knowledge in curtains, bedspreads, foot throws, cushions, voiles, blinds, swags and tails, valances and tie backs, according to their website, where you can also order from their online collection. Just visit www.musburyfabrics.co.uk

Alistair and Kathryn also sub-let a café and a gift shop at the mill premises and have their factory shop next door.

The gift shop is called The Furniture & Gift Emporium and the Mill Café at the other end of the substantial downstairs area provides hot meals, sandwiches and an array of beverages.  The owner of the Mill Café, Andrew Clarke-Cope has a workforce of six and the café is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Apart from Helmshore, Musbury Fabrics have two other stores in the area at Oswaldtwistle Mills and Pendle Village. They are currently trialling a new initiative whereby each of their stores has a sleep specialist who will help people select the best bedding, duvets etc. to assist with a good night’s sleep.

Alistair was kind enough to speak to me about the business and he told me:

“We manufacture bespoke bedding and custom made curtains, cushions and throws and roller blinds.”

Whilst Musbury no longer weave their own fabric, they buy the best available and make it into the wonderful array of soft furnishings that you will see in any of their outlets. They advertise quality goods at Mill prices and who can argue with that. Over the years my wife and I have bought their products and have never been dissatisfied. At Oswaldtwistle Mills, which is nearest to where I live, the staff are always ready to help you in a friendly and courteous manner and after speaking to Alistair I can see why.

He is obviously proud of the business and even speaking to him you can feel his enthusiasm to maintain the quality that Musbury have achieved for the last twenty odd years.

I asked him what his vision was for the future. His answer tells you all you need to know and I’ll leave the last word with him:

“Really it’s just to keep making beautiful curtains and bedding.”


© Peter Jones 2018

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Many café’s throughout the region display pictures by local artists. The gallery at The Mill Café in Park Mill, Helmshore is a little different, however, in that 10% from the sale of each painting, goes to Rossendale Hospice.

Andrew Clarke-Cope who owns the café, told me:

“The artists are allowed to display their works for a few months free of charge, but then new artists are given the chance to replace them. If the artists sell a painting, 10% will go to the Hospice and they will keep the rest.”

The Mill café is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Andrew has a staff of six. They provide a varied menu including hot food, sandwiches and a selection of beverages and the café occupies half of the spacious area that has a gift shop at the other end.

The whole area had a welcoming ambience and the artwork certainly enhances this. Andrew told me that the café has a regular client base and I am sure it attracts new customers by word of mouth. It’s certainly worth a visit.

© Peter Jones 2018

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Park Mill Furniture and Flooring have just celebrated their second anniversary at Park Mill, Helmshore.

The company, owned by Shaun Evans has actually risen Phoenix-like from the ashes of the former site of their business, Lambert’s Mill, which, whilst not destroyed by fire, was devastated by heavy floods that caused damage and destruction to stock which included sofas, beds and carpets. This unfortunately caused the business to close.

That was in December 2015 but by April 2nd the following year, Shaun and business partner, John Booth launched a new business at Park Mill where they occupy the complete second floor.

Shaun was quoted as saying:

“It has taken 14 weeks of hard work to get to this stage.”

The business is now going from strength to strength and Park Mill Furniture and Flooring provides a wide range of furniture including beds, mattresses, sofas and chests of drawers for every pocket. This is all backed up by employing experienced fitters who have been with the firm for a number of years.

The company has recently expanded its product range to include living and dining room furniture and also makes its own range of sofas and a large range of upholstery items are also manufactured in the company’s on-site workshops. These workshops also now offer a re-upholstery service and the team can recover anything from a saggy chair to a complete suite.

This is a triumph for dogged determination and a never-say-die attitude.

© Peter Jones 2018

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