Four months ago we asked you to start nominating worthy winners of the Bury Free Press West Suffolk Business Awards 2017.
Our judges have spent weeks whittling those nominations down to shortlists for each category then making the difficult choice of the one who really stood out as deserving an award.
Last night, those people found out who they were at a glittering gala awards evening at The Apex, in Bury St Edmunds, bringing the 10-day West Suffolk Business Festival to a close.
The top individual award is Businnes Leader of the Year, sponsored by Box-it East, which this year went to Joannah Metcalfe, founder of the community interest company Greener Growth which helps people of all ages and backgrounds feel better through growing their own food and transforming outside spaces.
Runners up were Laura Morrison or Your Telemarketing and Peter Basford from Lloyds Commercial Banking.
Business of the Year, sponsored by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Bury St Edmunds , Haverhill and Newmarket, went to Beckett Investment Management, the Bury specialists who have been helping families and businesses create sound financial plans for 25 years.
Box-it East and Treatt Plc were also highly commended by the judges.
The Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by the Bury Free Press, is new for 2017 and its first winner is Jan Bloomfield, director of workforce and communications at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.
Gavin Downes of Gavin Ashley Hairdressing was highly commended and Peter Basford from Lloyds Commercial Banking was also shortlisted.
Another new award is the West Suffolk Award for Innovation, sponsored by the West Suffolk Councils. Its first winner is Herga Technology, the Bury switching and sensing solutions company which is 70 years old this year.
Lowtoxbox and Beckett Investment Management were also shortlisted.
The Portcullis Group sponsors the Contribution to the Community Award which this year went to Ashtons Legal, the solicitors with offices in Bury. The shortlist also included James Sheen founder of the ‘We Love Bury St Edmunds!’ Facebook group and Ravenwood Hall Hotel at Rougham.
Menta, whose trade fair started the business festival on October 3, naturally sponsor the Best New Start-up Business category which this year went to Bury St Edmunds Canine Creche, which began last December and offers doggy daycare.
Other shortlisters were Alumah CIO and Revolution Fitness Academy.
For the second year running Aponic have won the Green/Environment Award, sponsored this year by the Bury Free Press’s parent company Iliffe Media. Aponic, from Acton, make vertical aeroponic growing systems.
Their shortlist colleagues were Greener Growth and Infusions.
But the awards are not just for companies and directors, so Employee of the Year 2017 is Jamie Cash, operations manager of Century Logistics, the Little Saxham warehousing and logistics specialists. The award comes only three months after he was made UK Warehousing Association’s Junior Manager of the Year.
Other employees shortlisted in the category sponsored by West Suffolk College, were Suzanne Stevenson of Richard Green Estate Agents and Rachel Foster or Bay Tree Cafe Bistro.
Apprenticeship specialist WS Training have sponsored the Apprentice/Trainee of the Year since the awards began and this year it went to Abigail Johnson of West Suffolk Physio.
She beat WS Training’s own apprentice Natasha Flanigan and Treatt’s Chloe Ludkin to the award.
Every business needs good customer care to succeed so Bay Tree Cafe Bistro in Bury can be proud of its Rachel Foster who won the Our Bury St Edmunds-sponsored Customer Service Award this year.
Armstrongs Funeral Service team and Stacey Howlett of Howlett Leasing were also shortlisted.