Clitheroe’s John Lancaster, who has dedicated his life to helping others, is the toast of the county after winning Lancastrian of the Year and a special lifetime achievement prize at the North-West’s biggest business awards.
“It is a really special thing, I’m very humbled to receive this,” said Mr Lancaster, who was awarded the MBE in 2011 for helping the plight of poverty-stricken and AIDS victims in South Africa.
It proved a double celebration for the Grand Theatre and the Lancaster family as the town’s venue – run by his son Steven – walked off with the Creative Business of the Year prize.
“Steven is the executive director of the Grand, and it is the first time, I think, a father and a son have both won awards at this event on the same evening, which is lovely,” added Mr Lancaster.
“Also, I understand, a charity had never won the Creative Business prize before, which makes it extra special for everybody.
“The Grand is involved with the whole community, from Backstage Pass, giving children an opportunity to develop their singing, acting and dancing skills to The Be My Band musical project.
“There is so much community work going on and I like to think we are making a great contribution, not only to the people of Clitheroe, but in other parts of the world too.”
Previous winners of the lifetime award include Colin Mustoe, of Altham-based Senator International, and Edwin Booth, chairman of the Lancashire supermarket chain.
The lifetime achievement prize is awarded to people who have contributed significantly to the economic vibrancy of Lancashire through their tireless dedication and commitment, both inside their own business and the wider community.
Mr Lancaster launched the Clitheroe company Ultraframe in 1983 with a workforce of two, and masterminded its growth into the world’s largest supplier of conservatory roofing, employing more than 500 in the town.
The Lancaster charitable Foundation has already donated millions to a wide range of good causes across the world, including the Solomon Project, feeding thousands of poor children in Africa, as well as building the Grand Theatre in Clitheroe.
TV presenter Eamonn Holmes and former X-Factor star Matt Cardle were the surprise stars at the Blackpool Tower event.
More than 900 members of Lancashire’s business community packed into the ballroom for the North and Western Chamber of Commerce annual get together, described as ‘the one they all want to win’.
“It was a bit special going back to the Blackpool Tower ballroom because it brought back a lot of nice memories for me,” added Mr Lancaster, who was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Manchester.
“My parents used to take me there to see the organist Reginald Dixon play the organ when I was a child, so to win this award there was a lovely moment.”
John’s son, Steve Lancaster, said: “For the Grand to win the Most Creative Business award is such a proud moment and lovely recognition for all our efforts.”