COMMUNITY businesses are set to be recognised in our upcoming Pride of Cumbria Awards and the shortlist of potential winners has been revealed.

The award recognises a business that has diversified to fight Covid-19 or has gone above and beyond the call of duty to support either health workers or the public during the pandemic.

Amongst the organisations up for the Community Business of the Year Award is Carlisle Youth Zone.

Their nominatior said: “They have seamlessly diversified from in person activites and clubs to providing online sessions via zoom. As new members my children were very shy and wary of meeting cyz online but the staff here made them feel instantly welcome and relaxed.”

The charity offers a range of activities and events to young people in their area to inspire the next generation, boost aspirations and give them a safe place to go.

Development manager Lynsey Buckle said: “To have any sort of recognition especially after the past 18 months and to see the incredible community work across the city is quite overwhelming.

“We don’t do it for any sort of recognition we do it for young people and their families.”

Lynsey has been humbled to see the work of others during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The fact that everybody has gotten behind others and helped each other in these times is great.”

Razzmatazz Theatre Schools and B&M Tech Services have also been nominated for the accolade.

B&M Tech Services stepped up during the Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring that students in their area had the right equipment to complete their lessons remotely.

The store is headed by Bill Amos and Matt Dust who posted a plea for donations, they have since received a dozen laptops, and so far have provided 8 families with equipment.

Their nominator said: “They posted a plea for donations, they have since received a dozen laptops, and so far have provided 8 families with equipment.

“They have used their presence to help collect for families in need, which in a time that would be difficult for their business, they have still acted selflessly.”

B&M Tech Services held its official opening ceremony in Millom in early September and was hailed as a boost for the town which was yet to see an electronics shop.

Asha Richardson of Razzmatazz was nominated for providing entertainment to many during lockdown on social media.

Representing Razzmatazz Theatre schools: Penrith and Ankoma Outreach, Asha masterminded various forms of entertainment for children and parents on the Razzmatazz Facebook page. Asha’s nominator said: “The arts is an industry which has been massively hit by lockdown and Covid restrictions, almost everything has been stopped for over a year now, with minimal dance/performing arts starting back up. Asha been vital in reaching so many families and allowing them to keep learning.”

In a reflective social media post, a spokesperson for Razzmatazz said: “Adapting to online, working with restrictions, performing through a screen, performing on a spot!

“The list of challenges is endless and not forgetting those who have joined the family this year, starting a new activity following a year of not being able to do any activities at all is also a big achievement - please tell our students how incredibly proud we are of them and how proud they should be of themselves!

“We’d also like to shout out to our whole team - our wonderfully inspiring, talented and dedicated teachers and assistants.

Razzmatazz said: “They ensure our students are not only delivered the best Performing Arts training but also ensure they have the most fun and most importantly are in a safe environment. They have all gone above and beyond this year and we are forever grateful.”

The winners will be announced in a virtual awards ceremony held on July 29, 2021.

David Beeby, the high sheriff of Cumbria, said: “It is really great to see these awards being run this year.

“Community champions are welcome at any time and they have been especially important in this last year. This is a great opportunity to turn the spotlight on some of the amazing community champions in Cumbria and show them how much they are appreciated.”