Showcasing the NEN 2018 Award Winners – Airedale Enterprise Services

Award category: Enterprise Support Organisation of the Year (turnover under £750,000) and Unsung Hero of the Year Award

Winner: Airedale Enterprise Services 

What the judges said

Enterprise Support Organisation of the Year (turnover under £750,000) Winner – Airedale Enterprise Services

Enterprise Support Organisation of the Year Award (turnover under £750,000)
“Airedale Enterprise Services showed the judges that they really are positioned at the heart of their community. Over their 35 year history they have shown a great deal of adaptability and diversification in order to keep offering enterprise support services to start-ups for free.

They work hard to offer an ever-evolving selection of business clubs, networking meetings, presentations and topical events for the local businesses within their region. Within their local area, Airedale Enterprise Service have a strong and trusted reputation. This is thanks to the strong connections they have formed with key stakeholders including their LEP and their MP, and because they are a key delivery partner for funding programmes – all of which benefits their local area.

This is an organisation which provides outstanding enterprise support services to a community in which it is firmly embedded.” 

Unsung Hero of the Year Award Winner – Sonia Patel, Airedale Enterprise Services

Unsung Hero of the Year Award
“Sonia joined Airedale Enterprise Services 5 years ago and, in that time, has made a huge impact and impression on everyone in the organisation. She was described as “an absolute star and great asset” and it was clear that she is held in high regard by everyone.

Sonia joined on a 12 week graduate programme and has since flourished to take on the role of Centre Manager. Her creativity and customer service skills have resulted in her creating another role of herself as a Digital Marketing specialist, enabling Airedale Enterprise Services to now offer this out as a new service to clients.

In this category the judges were looking for someone who goes the extra mile and whose work is valued by colleagues and clients alike – it was clear that Sonia’s colleagues felt lucky and proud to have her as part of their team, is an integral part of this organisation and an inspiration to those around her.” 

What these awards meant to Airedale Enterprise Services

“The team at AES were over the moon to have won the Enterprise Organisation of the Year award. It really gives the small team in Keighley, who are extremely passionate about supporting start-ups and existing businesses looking to grow, a great boost and the encouragement they need to continue providing this valuable service.”

“We were thrilled when Sonia was named Unsung Hero of the Year. She is an absolute star and such a great asset to AES. Since the day she started 5 years ago she has made such an impact and impression on our organisation, all the staff, volunteers, clients, tenants and visitors think the world of her and we are so lucky and proud to have her as an integral part of our team. Sonia is always ready to take on any new challenges and really gives 110% to any role given to her.”

Wendy Spencer, Airedale Enterprise Services, CEO

What makes Airedale Enterprise Services special?

Airedale Enterprise Services (AES) has been supporting enterprise in the Bradford and district area for 36 years. We offer a range of business support activities for pre start, new start and existing businesses. Our Keighley based business centre (an old mill lovingly restored) is home to a fantastic range of new start-ups, and our lovely meeting and training rooms are used by the wider business community.

What’s next for Airedale Enterprise Services

This year we are undertaking a strategic review looking at how we can improve our processes and offer a much better streamlined service to our clients, and improving our training offer by asking our clients what they need to help them grow their business. We also have a couple of new contracts – working with rural enterprises on a Digital Enterprise Programme, and work is underway on the Keighley Community Led Local Development funded £4.8m European Funded delivery programme (40% matched by delivery partners). This year we have been chosen as a centre partner to offer assisted digital support for the UKVI & EU settled status scheme. April will also see the launch of our brand-new website – we are very excited for the launch! Sonia has worked really hard on the design and layout so keep a look out for it during April, and let us know what you think!

What are you doing differently and how is this making an impact?

We regularly contact our clients to get a feel of what they want from us to help support business growth. We listen to suggestions and then deliver advice and training tailored to individual needs. The new Rural Digital Enterprise programme will see us delivering our services such as one-to-one business advice and digital media advice out in rural areas, ensuring rural businesses are not missing out on business support.

Did you know…?

We were instrumental in setting up the first community enterprise organisation in Bradford and district – Bracken Bank Cleaning Association followed by Keighley Community Nursery which is still going strong 21 years later! This was a blueprint for the rest of the country.

A reminder about these awards

The Enterprise Support Organisation of the Year Award aims to…
Recognise excellence from organisations who have enterprise support at their very hearts. They will have worked hard to establish or maintain recognition and impact within their local communities and have developed a sustainable business model that sees their organisation able to continue its support in the longer term.

The judges were looking for…

  • Clear examples of outstanding support provided to clients, communities and stakeholders.
  • A clear demonstration that the support is delivering and making impact now, and ensuring sustainability for the future.
  • Volume of activity is not important, demonstrating its impact is.

The Unsung Hero of the Year Award aims to…

Recognise a member of your wider team whose contribution is crucial in meeting the needs of the business and its clients.

The judges were looking for someone who…

  • Always make things happen.
  • Goes under the radar, but always goes the extra mile.
  • Makes your organisation tick, and whose work is valued by colleagues and clients alike.

Ask us about…

  • Virtual offices
  • Incubator facilities
  • Room hire
  • Business club
  • Business development training courses
  • Virgin Start Up loans
  • Social and digital media
  • Business awards/events
  • ISO Quality Management Systems
  • Strategy/visioning
  • Marketing and sales

Being part of Team NEN

“Airedale Enterprise Services values being a member of the National Enterprise Network. Membership adds weight to potential funding opportunities, and there is always someone on the end of telephone if we have a problem. It’s also great to network with other business support organisations and to be able to share good practice.”