The best of the best in the local business world were rewarded for their efforts at a glittering awards ceremony.
The ninth annual Mercury Business Awards was held at Greetham Valley Hotel, Golf and Conference Centre, on Thursday last week.
BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s Melvyn Prior hosted the awards and told the packed audience that it was a privilege to be there celebrating the achievements of businesses from across the Stamford, Rutland and Bourne areas.
He said: “The Mercury Business Awards have been established for nine years and are a local platform for celebrating the very best business successes in the area. Our awards recognise the efforts of local companies who have one thing in common - the dedication to achieve excellence.”
The first award of the evening was best new-start up and was presented by Andrew Heeler, from Hegarty Solicitors, who said that it had been a tough category to judge. The award went to electronic cigarette company i-Vapo, based in Stamford.
Director Andrew Humphrey, from i-Vapo, said: “We started with a single concessions stand at Tesco in Peterborough and since then we have opened seven brick and mortar retail shops. We have found that it’s been really well received by the general public.
“It’s such a big change to go from smoking to e-cigarettes. We really do feel we are helping people across the country and we are really proud of our team and what we have achieved.”
The runners-up were Sports X-tra and Rhino’s Gymnasium, both based in Stamford.
Robina Hill from Robert Loomes and Co presented the independent retailer award to Energy Stamford. Robina said the three finalists, which included Anand Shoes in High Street, Stamford, and North Shoes, which has shops in Stamford and Bourne, proved that “Stamford was not only the best place to live but the best place to work”.
Energy owner Claire Sewell said on stage that it had been 17 years of hard work but she added: “I have loved every minute and I have got the best team in the world. We love what we do.”
Cognition Systems, based in Langtoft, was named the winner of the business innovation category, which is sponsored by South Kesteven District Council. The firm was recognised for its efforts in developing an iPad app called i-Reminisce to help dementia sufferers.
In presenting the award, the council’s portfolio holder for economic development Frances Cartwright (Con) said the work being done by the team was going to “help so many people”.
Cognition Systems managing director Tony Upward said: “This award means a lot to us. It shows the work we are doing is being recognised throughout the area.”
Education City, based in Oakham, and i-Vapo were runners-up.
The green achievement award, which was a new category this year to recognise firms doing their bit for the environment, went to Hanson Cement Ketton Works. The firm has collaborated with Lark Energy to install 38,544 solar panels on former quarry land in Ketton.
Mark Cox, of Hanson Cement, said: “It’s nice for a big business to be recognised at a local awards ceremony.”
The finalists in the category, which was sponsored by Princeenergy, were 103 The Eye, of Melton, and My Home Survey, of Bourne.
Wildcats Theatre School, based in Stamford, was the winner of the employee or team of the year category, which was sponsored by Ambitions Personnel.
Adam Pallister, of Wildcats, said: “We are such a dedicated team. Some of our team members are not here tonight as they’re out with students but I’m sure they will be thrilled to hear we have been awarded this.”
The other finalists were Bourne Co-op and Oakham Veterinary Hospital’s small animal and equine team.
Larkfleet Group sponsored the customer care category, which was won by Anand Shoes, of High Street, Stamford.
Manish Chavda, owner of Anand Shoes, said: “Our customers really support us and I am so grateful for that. We are really pleased to win and I’d like to thank the Mercury for this award.”
Mad Turk, of Stamford, and Wildcats were runners-up.
Wildcats Theatre School took home their second award of the night when they were named winners of the small business of the year category.
Caz Dolby, who founded the school, said: “I started this six years ago as a little part-time job and what followed was an awful lot of hard work. If you put hard work into it, you will get something out of it at the end and now in 2014, I’ve got a fantastic team of 15 people and we’ve got 450 kids that come to us and it’s pretty much our life and we absolutely love it.
“It’s been a fantastic few years so thank you very much to everyone who supports us.”
Deans Street Photography, of Oakham, was the runner-up of the category.
The winner of the established business of the year was Trinity Event Solutions, based in Stamford.
Director of events Kerry Walsh said: “We wouldn’t be here as a business if it wasn’t for the foresight of Jacqui Kavanagh, who’s our owner,and she started this business during a recession and she’s continued to build on that throughout. We’re lucky enough to be employed by her and all the team will be incredibly excited about winning this award.”
Education City and Hanson Cement were named runners-up. Both the business of the year categories are jointly sponsored by Greetham Valley Hotel, Golf and Conference Centre, and Viking Signs.
The final prize of the night was the lifetime achievement award, which was won by Hedley Stroud of Bourne Textile Services. Sponsored by Duncan and Toplis, Tom Hindmarch presented Hedley with his award.
Hedley told the audience: “It really is a big surprise to be chosen for this award. We’ve seen how bright the future is with a lot of youthful fantastic companies coming through in the local area and sadly I represent the past as I’ve been there for the last 30 years.
“I am honoured to get this but really it is something I want to share with quite a few people that have been involved in my busin. I’m pleased that two of my directors are here with me tonight - Richard Clark and David Bower, and along with David Johnson the four of us actually have 125 years experience at board level and I think that experience got us through difficult times.
“It is hard work but we focus on customer service and pioneering new systems and diligest cost control in a very competitive market. I also want to thank my family. My grandfather Ernest started the business 82 years ago and it’s nice to think we still thrive and do well.”
Closing the event, Mercury editor Mark Edwards thanked the sponsors without whom the night would not have been possible.
He also drew the winners of a charity raffle held in aid of the Children’s Air Ambulance.
He said it had been a fantastic night and a privilege to recognise the best businesses in the area.