Magnificent seven firms flying high at Aer Lingus Viscount Awards

The 2017 Viscount Awards winners pictured outside IoD Head Quarters on Pall Mall. Included is Andrea Hunter of Aer Lingus

SEVEN of the north's most ambitious companies and two outstanding individuals were honoured at the ninth annual Aer Lingus Viscount Awards, held in the exquisite surroundings of the Institute of Directors' headquarters in London.

The initiative, in association with Ulster Business, has grown to become one of the most respected events on the business calendar, rewarding organisations and individuals that represent the absolute best in their respective fields. The key winners were:

:: Best SME -The Deluxe Group

:: Best start-up business - Equi-Nutritive Group

:: Employee champion - CDEnviro

:: Exporter of the year - MJM Group

:: Innovation of the year – Babocush

:: Fast growth business - Mount Charles

:: Business person of the year - John Toner (WIS Group chief executive and chairman)

The penultimate award, the Aer Lingus Lifetime Achievement Award, went to John Donnelly, until recently the owner of Retland Manufacturing Ltd, the umbrella group owning SDC Trailers and MDF Engineering.

The judges also acknowledged the incredible work he carried out as founding chairman of workspace Draperstown Enterprise Agency Ltd and the support he has given local community organisations and charities.

The Aer Lingus Viscount Award for Overall Excellence went to Allstate, who impressed the judges with their overall business performance and the impact they have had on the Northern Ireland economy, as well as their dedication to innovation, to cultivating an incredibly talented workforce and to their multi-award winning CSR strategy.

Managing directorJohn Healy said: "Allstate is delighted to win this award. Our success is down to our employees. We are committed to developing the next generation of cutting edge technology and technologists required to stay ahead of the development curve, competitors and new entrants in the insurance industry, and this award is recognition of the hard work and dedication of our entire Northern Ireland workforce.”

Andrea Hunter, business development manager of Aer Lingus NI said: “We were hugely impressed again by the calibre of this year's entrants and while only seven companies left as Aer Lingus Viscount Award winners, the judges agreed that the immense talent and success of the companies present in the room was outstanding.

“Aer Lingus is proud to connect businesses with opportunities internationally every day via our Belfast City to Heathrow route and via Dublin Airport to our transatlantic destinations in the US, including our brand new route to Miami which starts flying on September 1.”

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