Fast decisive change helps family-owned group of Lancaster district inns claim top business resilience award
A group of north Lancashire inns has been recognised for its resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic at a prestigious award ceremony at Blackpool Tower Ballroom.
Barry Robinson Leisure, which operates The Longlands Inn & Restaurant at Tewitfield, Carnforth, Plato’s Bar, Restaurant & Rooms in Kirkby Lonsdale, and The New Inn Yealand, took home the ‘Most Resilient Business of the Year’ Award at the BIBAs.
Run by the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, the Be Inspired Business Awards (BIBAs) are the county’s longest running, largest, and most prestigious business awards. More than 1,000 people attended the ceremony, where 140 Lancashire businesses competed for 20 awards.
The Most Resilient Business of the Year category was a new addition for 2021 to acknowledge firms who have overcome the challenges of the last 18 months during a global pandemic.
On presenting the award, judges recognised the speed of change and adaptability shown by owners Barry and Fiona Robinson plus the dedication, determination, and loyalty shown by all team members across the three businesses.
During the height of the pandemic, the team made sure rooms at The Longlands Inn & Restaurant – just minutes from the M6 – remained open to key workers. They also operated a take-away food service and provided crucial meals on wheels support to the local community at a time when they needed it most.
Fiona said: “I think it’s fair to say the last 18 months have been some of the most challenging of my career, and it’s been heartbreaking to see the large numbers of hospitality businesses that haven’t made it.
"We had opened brand new rooms at The New Inn not long before the first lockdown and were looking forward to showing everyone what we had to offer. We celebrated achieving a 5-star Gold Award from VisitEngland, but then pretty much had to close the doors the following week!
“Despite everything pointing to the contrary, we knew we had to keep investing in the businesses and our people to have the resilience to make it through. We’ve brought in Mark Fuller, an experienced hospitality business coach and mentor whose knowledge and expertise has been invaluable.
"We’ve also improved technology, developed a new business model, and focused on staff training and welfare. Never has an award win been more about the team behind it, and it feels really special.
“I’m so proud of every single person involved in our businesses, from our staff to our customers to our suppliers, and hope they are all filled with confidence and inspiration from the Chamber’s recognition of their efforts.”
Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce paid tribute to all the winners and finalists, saying they were one of the best groups of finalists the judges had ever seen.
She added: “The feedback from the judges has been outstanding and seeing the calibre of the finalists, their stories, their people and progress gives me the utmost certainty that we can look forward with confidence as a county. Our resilient Lancastrians have risen to the challenge.”
All BIBA winners received a trophy plus a cheque for £2,000 to invest in their business.