The achievements of Carlisle businessman Fred Story were recognised at the CN Group Business Awards last night.

He received the prestigious 'lifetime contribution to Cumbria' accolade at the black-tie gala dinner and awards ceremony held at the Low Wood Bay Resort, near Ambleside.

Mr Story, who turns 60 this month, founded the construction business that bears his name in 1987.

Now operating as Story Contracting and Story Homes, the group has grown rapidly based on a reputation for quality.

The judges said that the 'Story' brand has become a byword for excellence and an ambassador for the county.

Last year Story Homes and Story Contracting both figured in The Sunday Times BDO Profit Track 100 list of the UK's fastest-growing private businesses – the first time that two businesses owned by the same person have featured in the list.

The Story businesses have been major contributors to local good causes. Eden Valley Hospice and Jigsaw, Cumbria’s children’s hospice, are among the beneficiaries.

And Mr Story earned a place in Cumbrian folklore in 2004 when he rescued Carlisle United at its lowest ebb, following relegation from the Football League. Under his ownership, the club secured back-to-back promotions.

It was a particularly good night for north Cumbria, and Carlisle in particular.

Country House Outdoor won the training and development award, Clark Door was named 'manufacturer of the year', and Brampton Skip Hire won the prize for customer service excellence.

Carlisle United capped recent success on the pitch with an awards double, taking the community involvement accolade while the Carlisle United Community Sports Trust won the 'social enterprise' section.

Other north Cumbrian successes included the Lakes Free Range Egg Company at Stainton, near Penrith, which won 'agribusiness of the year' and the FSC Blencathra Centre, at Threlkeld, which collected the 'environmental and energy awareness' prize.

Craig Hatch, of WYG in Cockermouth, won the coveted 'businessperson of the year'.

Around 250 of the county’s movers and shakers attended the dinner and presentation.

BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin was the keynote speaker and Small Business Minister, Margot James, also delivered a speech. The event was hosted by Adam Powell of BBC Radio Cumbria's Money Talks.

CN Group, publisher of The Cumberland News and News & Star, stages the annual awards, which celebrate the achievements of Cumbrian businesses and the people who are behind them.

They are sponsored by the Centre of Nuclear Excellence.

Judging took place at the end of August but the results were kept a closely-guarded secret until last night.

Jonathan Lee, development director of CN Group, who chaired the judging panel, said: "All the judges were particularly impressed with the standard of this year's entries.

"It is testimony to the energy and commitment of individual business people and the dynamic and diverse businesses across the whole of Cumbria that the judges had such a difficult task.

"Cumbria has such a lot to shout about and be proud of when it comes to its business community.”

The other judges were John Grainger, stakeholder director at Britain's Energy Coast Business Cluster, Paul Murphy, a former CN Group Business Awards winner who won 'businessperson of the year' in 2014 and now runs his own recruitment agency, and CN Group business editor Julian Whittle.

Mr Grainger declared an interest in categories where Britain's Energy Coast Business Cluster members were under consideration.


  • Training and Development Award: Country House Outdoor, Carlisle
  • Exporter of the Year: Oxley Group, Ulverston
  • Community Involvement: Carlisle United Football Club
  • Innovation: Kendal Nutricare
  • Environmental and Energy Awareness: FSC Blencathra Centre, Threlkeld
  • Agribusiness of the Year: Lakes Free Range Egg Co, Stainton
  • Tourism and Hospitality Award: Treetop Trek, Windermere
  • New Business of the Year: Cumbria Travel, Whitehaven
  • Service Business of the Year: Prima Uno, Cleator Moor
  • Manufacturing Business of the Year: Clark Door, Carlisle
  • Best Use of Media: Daffodil Hotel and Spa, Grasmere
  • Customer Service Excellence Award: Brampton Skip Hire, Carlisle
  • Rising Star Award: Will Gardner-Brennand, Miller Waite, Ulverston
  • Businessperson of the Year: Craig Hatch, WYG, Cockermouth
  • Social Enterprise of the Year: Carlisle United Community Sports Trust
  • Judges' special award: TSP Engineering, Workington
  • Lifetime contribution to Cumbria: Fred Story, Carlisle