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Retlan founder receives award to honour a lifetime's work

By Margaret Canning

The founder of Retlan Manufacturing, parent company of SDC Trailers, has received the Aer Lingus lifetime achievement accolade at the 2017 Viscount Awards.

John Donnelly (second left), who has retired after selling Retlan to CIMC Vehicles in China last year, was one of many businesspeople honoured at magazine Ulster Business and Aer Lingus' annual celebration of success in London. The lunchtime ceremony was presented by BBC journalist Wendy Austin in the headquarters of the Institute of Directors on Pall Mall.

The Aer Lingus Viscount Award for overall excellence went to IT company Allstate in recognition of its business performance, impact on the Northern Ireland economy and its commitment to corporate social responsibility.

Kerry Nevins, inventor of the Babocush - a device for soothing colicky babies - won an award for innovation of the year.

And Newry fit-out giant MJM Group was named exporter of the year. Another fit-out specialist, The Deluxe Group, was best SME.

Equi-Nutritive Group, which makes a nutritional supplement for horses, was named best start-up. CDEnviro won the employee champion award, while the fast-growth award went to catering and outsourcing giant Mount Charles. John Toner, chief executive and chairman of WIS Group, won the businessperson of the year award.

Andrea Hunter, business development manager of Aer Lingus NI, said: "We were hugely impressed again by the calibre of this year's entrants and while only seven companies left as Aer Lingus Viscount Award winners, the judges agreed that the immense talent and success of the companies was outstanding."

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