As the countdown until the 2020 in-Cumbria Business Awards continues, we take a look at a few of the prizes that will be up for grabs on the special night next Thursday.

With 30 finalists up for 10 prizes as well the special lifetime achievement award set to be crowned to a special individual, it is set to be an exciting and special night for the Cumbrian calendar.

Today we turn the spotlight to a particularly prominent award for this year, the Best Community Involvement award - sponsored by the Cumberland Building Society - but with a specific focus on how businesses have helped their communities during the coronavirus crisis.

We will also be taking you through the finalists for the Professional Services Business of the Year and Green/Ethical Business of the Year awards.

Independent family run business the Kendal Hostel, Ulverston-based development and solutions company the Oxley Group and Cumbria-wide developers Story Contracting have been chosen as finalists due to their proactive commitment to local communities while supporting the county during the current Covid-19 global pandemic.

At Kendal Hostel, during lockdown carers were housed for free both in the hostel and co-owner Jan Nicholson’s house. They are used to dealing in emergencies as Jan was on the scene at The Town Hall when Storm Desmond broke, providing refreshments with the help of Pizza Express and Resco.

They were nominated for the award by Diane Ashton, a former guest at the hostel. Diane said: “I also know they support the festivals with prizes and free accommodation. There are a number of elderly people who use it as their second home either for a warming cup of tea or free wifi.

“They even hosted free of charge a funeral tea as Jan is a member of the United Reform Church on Highgate.”

The Oxley Group, which employs 180 people from its base at Priory Park, was contacted by the NHS on March 26, at the start of the pandemic with an urgent need for PPE.

The team set out to create a face visor with a simple design focusing on wearer comfort and rapid manufacturing to ensure products could be supplied to the frontline very quickly.

The Ulverston production team set up a dedicated facility, the whole on-site team worked in shifts (following Government guidelines) to produce the visors. The first masks were ready by April 6 and shipping commenced to the local NHS as well as to care homes across Cumbria all on a free of charge basis.

Colleagues worked tirelessly to overcome challenges to ensure they could produce thousands of visors for frontline workers in the NHS and the care sector.

Our third finalist, Story Contracting, have seen their employees over the past six months put in over 1,000 volunteering hours and raised and donated money, equipment and supplies to support vulnerable communities, key workers and emergency services across the county.

Working alongside the NHS, Cumbria County Council, Carlisle City Council, Cumbria CVS and other local support groups, they have supported a number of initiatives to help Cumbrian communities during this difficult and challenging time.

This includes providing a site cabin for North West Ambulance Service to give their team additional space as they serve the local community in the fight against Covid-19, as well as staff carrying out over 200 foodbank deliveries with Carlisle Foodbank.

Moving the focus onto the Green/Ethical Business of the Year our finalists are north Cumbrian-based Will & Al’s Natural Plant Food Company, Eva’s Organics in Carlisle and lastly Another Weigh – which operate in Penrith and Kendal.

Will & Al’s Natural Plant Food Company launched its Bloom! product on to the market in February after initially being used on the owners’ farms to help grow their crops. Set up by two north Cumbrian agriculturalists, William Tuer and Alistair Wannop, it utilises an organic approach in creating a natural fertiliser people can use to help keep plants and lawns healthy and fed.

The product, which comes in easy to use recyclable bottles, is a liquid rich in nutrients and natural fertiliser such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Since launching, it has proved incredibly popular both in the UK and abroad, notably in Spain and Italy.

Eva’s Organics was established over 20 years ago and has been developing organic methods of fruit and vegetable production at Low Luckens farm, near Carlisle, since 2004.

To expand its range of locally grown produce, the company planted an organic orchard of apples, pears, plums and cherries at Houghton in 2010. It now employees 10 staff and has kept everyone on despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Another Weigh was launched in early 2019 when co-owners Zoe Hedges and Chris and Emma Bray opened their first store in Penrith as the Eden town’s first dedicated zero-waste shop focused on reducing waste and improving local shopping habits.

It was set-up with the mantra of wanting to improve the future of the planet for our children and it quickly expanded to open a second shop in Kendal in December last year and have sold over 100,000 items, saving at least that many packets, bags, unnecessary wrappers from landfill.

Turning last but not least towards the Professional Services Business of the Year. The finalists include Zeitgeist Communications – set up just over two years ago, it has established itself among its clients and media in Cumbria as delivering a high level of professional service.

The second finalist is David Allen IT Solutions, based in Carlisle. It acts as the IT department for over 100 businesses in Cumbria, giving advice and guidance along with proactive and reactive instant IT support. Thirdly we have Armstrong Watson, an independent firm of accountants, business and financial advisers, encompassing 16 offices throughout the North of England, Glasgow and south west Scotland with over 420 team members.

Taking place via a live stream, the 2020 in-Cumbria Business Awards event will start at 7pm on Thursday 12th November.

You can help recognise the best Cumbrian businesses by signing up to watch the event here: