Praise for those entrepreneurs who keep on defying downturn

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THE head of a major UK law firm has praised Yorkshire entrepreneurs who have created jobs and secured investment during the worst downturn for a generation.

Jamie Martin, the managing partner of Ward Hadaway, was speaking at the Yorkshire Fastest 50, an event that attracted the cream of the county’s corporate talent.

The lunchtime event featured representatives from companies that have managed to grow in the face of economic pressures caused by the global financial crisis.

The event also featured a rousing speech from Gary Verity, the chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, who said the Fastest 50 proved that the county was a confident, dynamic and successful place.

Mr Martin said: “One thing that was very noticeable about these awards is how animated and enthused everyone is.

“At the Oscars, as the winners are taking the applause on stage, the runners-up struggle to keep their disappointment from being etched on their faces.

“Yet, at these awards, there is genuine enthusiasm from everyone in the room – and with very good reason, because the Fastest 50 celebrates creating prosperity, increasing growth and boosting business success, things which are good news for all of us, ourselves at Ward Hadaway included, so, in many respects we are all winners here today.”

The Yorkshire Fastest 50 Awards have been developed by top 100 UK law firm Ward Hadaway in association with the Yorkshire Post.

The Yorkshire Fastest 50 celebrates the region’s real success stories by recognising profitable private sector companies who have seen the biggest annual growth rate in their turnover.

Ward Hadaway has hosted a similar event in the north east since 1998, and the inaugural Yorkshire event was staged in conjunction with the Yorkshire Post at the Leeds City Museum last year. This year’s Fastest 50 contained businesses from a wide range of sectors. The companies included fashion and food industry companies, alongside engineers and IT experts.

The Yorkshire Fastest 50 was compiled by independent economic researchers at Bradford University School of Management using publicly available data from Companies House.

To be eligible, companies have had to make profits over each of the past three years, as well as achieving turnover growth during the same period.

Mr Martin added: “When we decided to open up in Yorkshire four years ago, we had not planned on doing so at a time of global financial crisis. However, we believed we could offer something different and we trusted in our abilities and our people.”

Mr Martin said that Ward Hadaway’s Leeds office had grown remarkably quickly. He added: “We have seen more than 1,000 clients come through our doors since 2008. Turnover for the office this year exceeds £5m.”

In his speech, Mr Verity said Welcome to Yorkshire was aiming to attract more big spending Chinese customers.

Tourism in Yorkshire is worth around £7bn annually, and the county’s tourism industry employs almost 250,000 people.

Mr Verity told the audience: “You are the wealth creators – you are creating jobs.”

Awards were presented to the fastest growing small business, the fastest growing medium business and the fastest growing large business. There was also a special award presented to Yorkshire’s fastest overall growing business. There will be full coverage of the Fastest 50 awards in a special supplement which will be published in Tuesday’s Yorkshire Post.