IT flies the flag for British boat building in choppy economic waters.

But now Lymington’s Berthon Boat Company has been named as a flagship of Hampshire’s business community.

For the company, which designs, builds, repairs and refits yachts, has landed this year’s prestigious New Forest Business of the Year Award.

And the business won first prize in the Hampshire County Council sponsored category Developing Young People for its commitment to training.

Its apprenticeship scheme has 25 apprentices currently employed.

Managing director Brian May said: “Berthon is delighted to have won this local award.

“The Government, colleges, parents and students are now all behind apprenticeships but we now need all small and medium sized enterprises to employ apprentices to provide the necessary skills for the future.

“And Berthon has funding available for marine-based apprenticeships.”

The scheme has provided two-thirds of the current shop floor workforce and half of the management team. All six apprentices who graduated following their four-year apprenticeships were taken into full-time roles within the business last year and this has been repeated with the graduates in 2012.

Keith Longman, yard manager, received the top prize from the Hon. Ralph Montagu at the New Forest Brilliance in Business Awards at Careys Manor Hotel.

New Forest Business Partnership chairman Rob Dewing said: “I continue to be impressed with the excellent calibre of entries we receive year on year for the New Forest Brilliance in Business Awards.

“It is fantastic to hear what local businesses are achieving and I hope this inspires other organisations to put themselves forward for the 2013 awards.

“Thank you to all the sponsors who help to recognise the efforts and achievements of our Forest businesses.”

Other category winners in New Forest Brilliance in Business Awards: ExxonMobil Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship: New Forest Quality Feeds.

The Hampshire County Council Award for Developing Young People: Berthon Boat Company Ltd.

The Brockenhurst College Award for Training and Development: Raymond Brown Group.

The New Forest National Park Authority Sustainable Business Award: The Mill at Gordleton.

The Princecroft Willis Award for Best New Business: Celtic Equine Vets.

The New Forest District Council Award for Outstanding Customer Care: Burley’s Home Services.

The Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Brand New Forest Campaign: Simply Beauty.

AWARD WINNERS PICTURED: Back row left to right: Tom Schofield (Raymond Brown Group), Teri Seabright (The Mill at Gordleton), Edyta Kobezko (The Mill at Gordleton) and the Hon Ralph Montagu. Front: Alan Hough (Celtic Equine Vets), Alison Smith (Simply Beauty), Keith Longman (Berthon Boat Company), Carly Burley and Paul Burley (Burley Homes Care Services).