Putting what has been a challenging year behind them for a few hours, the county’s businesses celebrated their achievements and successes at the Northamptonshire Business Excellence Awards last night (Thursday).
It didn’t matter that staying in was the new going out – the glitz and glamour was delivered direct to finalists’ and guests’ homes in a socially distanced version of what would have been one of the highlights of the business social calendar. And with a virtual trip to Warner’s Distillery in Harrington and live entertainment from Faryl Smith, it was an evening to remember, despite lockdown.
Despite technology taking the place of a glittering venue, the evening was a great success, with everyone able to chat online during and after the awards – to network and congratulate – or commiserate with – the winners and finalists.
Launching the presentations, Ben Thomas said:
“Businesspeople of Northamptonshire, you have had one hell of a year, so tonight sit back, enjoy a drink and celebrate business excellence in the county.”
The winners were:
Apprentice of the Year (sponsored by Starting Off)
Marketing Campaign of the Year (sponsored by Franklins Solicitors)
Land & Development Award (sponsored by Moore)
Food and Drink Award (sponsored by SH Pratt)
Professional Services Awards (sponsored by ACS)
Innovation Award (sponsored by All Things Management)
Community Project or Person of the Year (sponsored by dbfb)
Employer of the Year (sponsored by Wilson Browne Solicitors)
Businesswoman of the Year (sponsored by BHIB Insurance Brokers)
Businessman of the Year (sponsored by Northamptonshire Britain’s Best Surprise)
Business of the Year (sponsored by Lambert Smith Hampton)
Big Business of the Year (sponsored by MHA MacIntyre Hudson)
Brian Harding, of Catalyst Land Solutions, winner of the Land & Development Award said:
“Northamptonshire is a passionate place, with great contractors, sub-contractors, design teams and clients. I’m ecstatic to win this award.”
Greg Guilford of HR Solutions, winners of the Professional Services Award, said:
“The future looks good for us after what has been a tough year for a lot of businesses. We’ve gone above and beyond to support our clients and I’m overwhelmed to win this award against some very strong finalists.”
Teresa McCarthy accepted the Community Project or Person of the Year Award for her food bank charity The McCarthy-Dixon Foundation, set up when her pub, The Swan and Helmet in Northampton, was forced to close during lockdown.
“I’m completely blown away to be in the same line-up as some of the people shortlisted in this category. When we started this food bank we had no idea of the level of food poverty in this community. Even when we are able to re-open the pub, we will continue. The amount of good people in our county that really care about their neighbours is amazing and I’m so chuffed at how far we have come in so short a time.”
Kevin Matthews from Scott Bader, on accepting the Employer of the Year Award, said:
“I’m really pleased to accept this award on behalf of all of my colleagues. This is going to be really important for them. It’s our centenary this year and we have been in Northamptonshire for 80 of those years and this is the perfect home for us and the reason we have flourished.”
Sarah Stoute from Full Support Group, who was named Businesswoman of the Year, explained how she and her husband began planning their approach to the coming COVID-19 pandemic while on a trip to Kilimanjaro in January last year.
“Our team were keeping us abreast of the situation in China and we began planning and ordering despite the altitude sickness. From there, the whole year has just been flat out. We doubled in size and we couldn’t have asked for more commitment from our team. We were desperate to help the NHS. It has been traumatic, but everyone pulled together.”
James Booker from Postworks was named Businessman of the Year. When asked about how to balance being a successful business with being a good boss, he said:
“They are one and the same thing. You can’t have a successful business if you don’t treat your staff right.”
The Big Business of the Year Award winner, Medigold Health, provides occupational health services to around two and a half million people. Alex Goldsmith said:
“It’s a real pleasure, after the year we have been through I just feel happiness for my staff that have worked so hard to make this happen. It means you’re doing something right, so I’m really chuffed.”