THE very serious men and women who drive the region’s economy got the chance to leave their suits at home and forget their inhibitions at one of the more light-hearted business awards events.
The Alternative Business Awards not only raises thousands of pounds for charity, but also sees executives relax and celebrate the jollier side of being part of the North East business community.
The two-yearly event has seen the great and the good of the business world take their turns in the spotlight picking up jokey awards before taking to the stage to belt out musical numbers in front of their colleagues.
Last Friday night, the focus was on comedy and the performers presented a stand-up competition based on the them Laughing in the Face of Adversity in honour of the region’s stoicism in the face of less than cheery economic circumstances.
Founder John Mowbray said: “We thought that, in this economic climate, we all need a laugh. We have had people singing and dancing at the awards for years, and we all know that Newcastle has a lot of comic talent out there and wanted to give people a chance to become comedians.
“Stand-up is really popular at the moment and we have a natural sense of humour in the North East, so it should be great to unleash the talent that’s out there in the business world and give it a stage.
“It is always such a popular night. People are really looking forward to it. It is a rare chance for people of all ages and all sorts of jobs to get together and have a good time.”
The event at The Journal Tyne Theatre was hosted by popular comic Brendan Healey, who did not hold back on giving his opinions of the performers’ efforts at comedy.
Sponsored by The Journal, The Funny Business “Talent” Show showcased the varying comedic talents of business people, including the 2009 Alternative Business Person Award winner, Reverend Glyn Evans from the City Centre Chaplaincy, and Michelle Beveridge from the Newcastle Gateshead Hilton Hotel, accompanied by her Evolution Dance Crew.
Returning for another great performance is One North East chairman Paul Callaghan, who was accompanied by his son. But it was the routine by Ivan Jepson of Northumbrian Water that won on the night.
And the packed crowd who cheered on award winners and would-be comedians helped to raise £18,000 for the Percy Hedley Foundation.
The foundation opened in 1953 as a charitable school for children with cerebral palsy, the foundation is now one of the biggest regional charities supporting disabled people.
CEO Carole Harder said: “This was another great night for the business community and for Percy Hedley Foundation. We had a brilliant evening of entertainment and raised an amazing £18,500 of much-needed funds which will bring invaluable benefits to the disabled children and adults we support.”