A SCHOOL minibus firm boss was named Business Person of the Year at the Cherwell Business Awards.

Chris Maynard of Bicester-based Castle Minibus is a long-term campaigner on children’s safety, linked to school minibuses and drivers.

He said: “I feel very humbled to be business person of the year and feel it reflects the quality and commitment of the people that work with Castle Minibus.”

Charlotte Houghton of accountants Ellacotts which sponsored the award, said: “Chris’ passion for his work, his ability to identify this gap in the market and, in particular, the way he campaigns for children’s safety was so inspiring.”

Other winners at the gala night at Heythrop Park Hotel near Enstone on May 5 included Launton charity The Hummingbird Centre, which scooped the Charity & Community Award for its work with cancer sufferers and their families.

Independent women’s fashion store Options: Beauty and the Boutique, run by Kevin and Jane Whiteley, took the Retail Award top spot, with the award sponsored by designer outlet Bicester Village.

Bicester bakery and café Savoir Fare went home as the winner of two categories - Micro Business of the Year and the New Business Award.

The Small Business Award, sponsored by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, went to Bloxham Mill-based lava shell therapy firm Shared Beauty Secrets.

The Innovation and Creativity gong was won by Ethos Technology which also has offices at Bloxham Mill.

Apprenticeship of the Year went to Banbury-based social media agency SocialSidekick, while Hawkins Group, also from Banbury, was named Employer of the Year and John Nicholls Trading was named Established Business of the Year.

A funeral director was named Overall Business Winner Edd Frost, who runs Banbury-based Edd Frost & Daughters, told an audience of 200 he was inspired to set up his firm following the sudden death of his mother and father.

Mr Frost said: “The arrangements for planning my parents’ funerals is something I remember every day and what it feels like to lose someone you love.”

Cllr Lynn Pratt, Cherwell’s lead member for estates and the economy, said: “Cherwell District Council is extremely proud to have been headline sponsor for these important awards.

“They are a fantastic way of celebrating the innovation, commitment and talent that makes north Oxfordshire’s such a thriving and dynamic economy – and encouraging more of it.”

Hosted by Banbury Sound radio presenter Kirsty Leahy, the evening also included a drinks reception, three-course dinner, disco and raffle, which raised more than £1,500 for The Hummingbird Centre.

A full list of winners is at: cherwellbusinessawards.co.uk