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Bowland Businesswoman in line for National Business Awards

Tuesday, 30th August 2016

Bowland businesswoman Janet Simpson, who converted her family farm into a four-star hotel and restaurant, has been shortlisted for two national awards.

Both Janet personally, and her Gibbon Bridge Hotel and Restaurant, were selected in two; ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ and ‘Outstanding Diversification Project’.

After being shortlisted out of more than 900 other rural businesses across the UK, the grand finale will be held at the Belfry Hotel and Resort.

From humble beginnings Janet’s four-star hotel and restaurant started life as a barn on the Simpson family’s 23-acre pig and cattle farm.

Following the death of her father Alf, Janet and her late mum Maggie, made the bold business move with the help of a small bank loan and grant back in 1982.

From five employees, a small kitchen and restaurant with six bedrooms, the independently-owned business steadily grew.

It now employs 40 people, has five dining areas holding up to 200 guests, 30 bedrooms and suites, a helipad and tennis courts all set in 23-acres of award-winning grounds.

Gemma Clifford, founder of the Rural Business Awards, which are held in conjunction with the CLA (Country Land and Business Association), said: “The awards are about celebrating rural businesses, how they are rooted in their communities, have grown in success, and how that success feeds back into the rural way of life in the UK.”

“We are not looking at big chains and our judging process is unique and very fair because it has a points system. Not even the judges know who the winner is until the end of the process.”

Rural Britain employs 3.4million people within over 600,000 businesses and is one of the fastest growing sectors.

The competition draw together businesses from across these three broad areas to acknowledge the breadth and depth of opportunity presented by the Great British countryside, as well as to celebrate the achievements of rural businesses, from engineering through to artisan food producers and professional services organisations.

The thirteen award categories will be decided by an independent panel of judges drawn from the rural business sector, official agencies and rural charitable organisations.

Said Janet: “As a 14 year old leaving school to help my parent on the farm, you could say Gibbon Bridge has been an education in the ‘University of Life’.

“Yet, all I wanted to do was have a six bedroom guest house and a small restaurant – and look what happened.

“I have a lot to thank my mother for, and colleagues, suppliers, friends and the loyal guests who come back to us year after year.

“It is wonderful to have reached the finals in such a big competition. Anything else will be an added bonus.”

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