Mark Casci: How award ceremonies like Variety’s remind us what a special place Yorkshire is

Date:9th December 2016. Picture James Hardisty.
30th Anniversary Yorkshire Business Awards 2016, held at The Queen's Hotel, Leeds. Pictured The Variety Special Recognition Award In honour fo the late Jo Cox, MP, (left) Sister Kim with parents Gordon and Jean Leadbeater, and presenting the award MP Fabian Hamilton.
Date:9th December 2016. Picture James Hardisty. 30th Anniversary Yorkshire Business Awards 2016, held at The Queen's Hotel, Leeds. Pictured The Variety Special Recognition Award In honour fo the late Jo Cox, MP, (left) Sister Kim with parents Gordon and Jean Leadbeater, and presenting the award MP Fabian Hamilton.
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Given the seismic electoral shocks and ever increasing list of famous individuals that have left us this year, 2016 is undoubtedly set to be a memorable one for historians.

However, while the loss of Muhammad Ali, Prince, David Bowie and AA Gill will all loom large in my memories of this year, along with the jaw-dropping moments when Brexit and Donald Trump prevailed at the ballot box, a large portion of the memories I will hold of this momentous year will have come from hotels and events halls around the region when I consider some of the fantastic awards ceremonies I have attended in 2016.

Jack Tordoff , Individual Award for Excellence

Jack Tordoff , Individual Award for Excellence

Not least of these came just last week at the Yorkshire Business Awards in aid of the utterly amazing children’s charity Variety.

It saw top honours handed out to Di Walker at Karro Food Group for her remarkable work in turning the business around, as well as accolades for Tracsis, The Floow and Principle.

These are four fantastic and exciting businesses, showcasing what a diverse, vibrant and innovative business community we have.

I was particularly impressed with the remarks of Dr Sam Chapman, chief innovation officer of The Floow, who spoke of how their home city of Sheffield provided everything the business he co-founded needed in terms of personnel, skill and infrastructure.

It was a message I heard at similar events across the year.

At the FD Awards we heard marvellous examples of finance directors who were quick to praise the region for the impact its people and places had on ensuring the success of their business.

The Bradford Chamber of Commerce dinner saw a magnificent address from its president Andy Caton, who praised the ever-increasing co-operation between the region’s businesses and the gradual breaking down of retrograde inter-regional rivalry. I was also mightily impressed with the words of new Bradford City Edin Rahic at the same event, who praised the diversity and professionalism of both the city and the region and how he had decided to bring both his business interests, money and family to the area in order to share in it.

And at our own Excellence in Business Awards we heard from dozens of companies how Yorkshire, with its unique blend of vision and creativity, had been crucial to their success.

In particular the Outstanding Achievement Award, presented to JCT600 chairman Jack Tordoff, saw the octogenarian entrepreneur extol the virtue of hard graft in achieving any success.

A more Yorkshire character trait you would be hard-pressed to find.

But to return to the Variety Awards, none of the 450 attendees could have been anything less than humbled by the spectacular bravery of the family of late MP Jo Cox, whose life was so tragically cut short this year in an act of unspeakable hatred and terrorism.

The family were presented with a Special Recognition Award for their dignity following the tragedy and Ms Cox’s sister Kim, along with MP Fabian Hamilton, reminded those in attendance that her killer had achieved the exact opposite of what he had intended with his cowardly act, with the whole of the region, and the country, uniting behind her values of tolerance and understanding.

What all of these events reminded me was that this part of the world is a special place.

We have so much to be proud of and have so much more we can achieve as a region.

Awards ceremonies, like the ones I have just outlined, do more than just provide the opportunity for a day out.

They allow us to be unrelentingly positive about our home county and bask, albeit fleetingly in the myriad things that make us so proud.

It is this upbeat spirit that will allow us to navigate the uncertain times ahead.