West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock took the stage at The Apex last Friday to open the Bury Free Press Business Awards 2016 ceremony.
The Minister of State for Digital and Culture began the evening which saw the best in West Suffolk business collect the nine awards at the Bury St Edmunds venue, having been judged by their business peers.
The host for the evening was comedian Paul Sinha, from The Chase, and the winners were from Bury, Haverhill and Sudbury.
First winner on stage was Kelly Dowson from customer research specialist Good Sense Research, of Eastern Way, Bury. Kelly was presented with the Business Person of the Year award by Chris Barrett, director of sponsors Ensors Chartered Accountants.
The award recognises the business person who best represents achievement and longevity and it acknowledges the winner’s sustained achievements in business.
The other finalists were Maria Broadbent from Casa Del Mar and Robin Pilley from CXG Group.
Matt Moss, chairman of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Bury, presented the Business of the Year Award to Havebury Housing Partnership, a specialist in affordable housing in the Bury and Haverhill areas.
This award is for the business that demonstrated overall outstanding achievement in the past 12 months. Other finalists were Beckett Financial Services and Cooper Lomaz Recruitment,
The Contribution to the Community Award, presented by Tim Meadow-Smith from The Portcullis Group, recognises a business or person making a positive contribution to the local community.
It went this year to double glazing company Frames Conservatories Direct of Barton Road, Bury, and the other finalists were Oakes Barn, Bury, and PPG Stowmarket.
Phil Stittle from West Suffolk College presented the Employee of the Year Award to Amanda Bloomfield, chief executive of the community charity Gatehouse. The Bury-based charity won the Contribution to the Community Award in 2014.
The award criteria Amanda had to meet was: “To have gone the extra mile in their job to achieve something amazing.”
Menta’s Best New Startup Award, presented by its chief executive Alex Till, was open to companies who began trading after April 2013 and have ‘demonstrated that they have a bright future and that they are geared up for the challenges ahead’.
Specialist coffee roasters Frank and Ernest, of Eastern Way, Bury, beat Prima Dance Academy and Pocket
Watches & Petticoats to the award.
It was apt that apprenticeships specialists WS Training sponsored the Apprentice/Trainee of the year Award and its chief executive Jane Wood handed it to Chantele Roffe of Portcullis Market Access, of Northgate Street, Bury.
Other finalists for the award, which recognises apprentices or trainees who have made a significant contribution to their workplaces, were Luke Martin and Larni King.
The Green/Environmental Award looks for organisations and individuals doing unique work which can ‘serve to drive green growth’ and winner Aponic, of Bull Lane, Acton, does exactly that with its aeroponic and aquaponic vertical growing systems.
Chris Nix, director of estates at Easton and Otley College presented the trophy. The other finalist was Unisurge International.
The Customer Service Award speaks for itself and was presented to home care specialists Clarke Care of Nowton Road, Bury, by the Bury Free Press’ advertising manager Jamie Brodie. Runners up were the Hearing Centre and Jacobs Allen Chartered Accountants.
The West Suffolk Award for International Trade, sponsored by Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury Councils is for businesses that have embraced import and export markets.
St Edmundsbury’s council leader John Griffiths presented it to Geosense, who export their geotechnical and structural monitoring systems worldwide from their Rougham Industrial Estate premises. The runner up was Kalsec Europe.
More pictures in next week’s paper.