The Gunnedah shire took out four of the 14 categories in the New England North West Business Awards on Friday night.
Mannion Drilling won the Excellence in Business Award and Lively Linseed won the Excellence in Export Award. Gunnedah and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry won the Local Chamber of Commerce category for the third time, and Brooke Patriquin was named Outstanding Young Entrepreneur.
Jacqui Donoghue accepted the award for Tambar Springs business Lively Linseed and said Gunnedah “really nailed it” at the event held in Armidale.
“Gunnedah really cleaned up on the night,” she said.
“It was very exciting for Gunnedah.”
Mrs Donoghue said she would like to see more businesses in the export category with “less than two per cent of Australia’s small-medium businesses exporting”.
Fellow business woman Brooke Patriquin said she was “in shock” after being chosen as the Outstanding Young Entrepreneur on Friday.
Mrs Patriquin and her husband Richard own Gunnedah’s newest childcare centre, Li’l Achievers, which opened in June 2015. Mrs Patriquin started out with a family day care but had a waiting list, so she and her husband decided to invest in a centre of their own to to meet the demand for childcare in Gunnedah. The centre expanded in 2017 to meet growing demand.
“I really wasn't prepared at all so I was quite overwhelmed [to win],” she said.
“I felt very grateful and honoured to be recognised for how much we have achieved in the last three-and-a-half years.
“I always wanted to be able to open a childcare centre to be able to provide the service and care I wanted as a parent to other people, but to actually be able to achieve it was crazy.”
Mrs Patriquin said her vision was realised because of the great support she had received.
“As I was walking back down to the seat, Richard jumped up and gave me a big cuddle. He’s very proud of what we’ve all achieved,” she said.
“If it wasn’t for Richard or our family support or the community for choosing to put their children in our centre, we never would have come as far as we did.
“I feel very blessed that we have a director, Linda Gallagher, that’s steering our ship now at Li’l Achievers.”
For the third year, the Gunnedah chamber took out the local chamber award but not without a little competition from Guyra & District Chamber of Commerce.
“We knew we had been doing quite a lot but we were up against Guyra and Guyra’s fantastic. Their chamber is very tourism-focused,” Gunnedah chamber president Stacey Cooke said.
“It was a really good competition, really, because we focus on different things [but] we felt like we had a good chance because… our membership has grown and we’ve been really involved in the skills shortage campaign with TAFE and really push that.”
After missing out on the Excellence in Business Award in 2017, Mannion Drilling’s Jason and Jacinta Mannion were thrilled to take the award home this time round.
“It was obviously surprising and it was nice to be recognised for our hard work,” Mrs Mannion said.
“The strategies and objectives we’ve put in place are paying off. We’re moving forward and advancing the industry.”
The state businesses awards will be held on November 23 in Sydney.
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