Finest business stars in Portsmouth and beyond receive honours at 15th annual News awards

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CHEERS went up and drinks were raised at a packed awards ceremony to celebrate the very best in business.

Hundreds of people filled the Portsmouth Guildhall last night as The News’ Business Excellence Awards returned for their 15th year.

Employer of the Year winner Dynamite Recruitment after hearing they had won the award ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (160145-641)

Employer of the Year winner Dynamite Recruitment after hearing they had won the award ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (160145-641)

And it was one of the biggest yet, as 16 honours were handed out marking all aspects of good business practice – from apprentices to large companies.

Editor Mark Waldron opened the night and spoke of his pride.

He said: ‘Each year these awards make me realise what great companies we have operating across the area.

‘These companies – from the smallest start-up to the largest organisation – show the strength of the business community in Portsmouth and the surrounding areas.’

Winners of the Innovation of the Year award, Aqua Cooling'''Picture: Ian Hargreaves (160180-21)

Winners of the Innovation of the Year award, Aqua Cooling'''Picture: Ian Hargreaves (160180-21)

This year saw hundreds of entries submitted and the categories were judged by top names and experts – Maureen Frost from Hampshire Chamber, Sue Ball from Verisona Law, Maggie Hill from BAE Systems, Mr Waldron and a representative from each sponsor.

Taking the biggest award of the night was business telecoms and IT provider Aerial Business Communications.

The company, which has operated from its Rodney Road base for 30 years, impressed the judges with its expansion plans, growth in the face of challenging times for its market, its impressive list of contracts and its drive for innovative products.

The Portsmouth company won Medium Business of the Year, as well as Overall Business of the Year.

Small Business of the Year, Precision Creative and MediaPicture: Ian Hargreaves (160180-9)

Small Business of the Year, Precision Creative and MediaPicture: Ian Hargreaves (160180-9)

Head of sales Dave Stephens said: ‘We have been in business for 30 years and it really is a team effort.

‘From accounts to sales, the whole team pulls together to get the results and to look after our customers – from the small businesses all the way up to our large contract with Westminster Abbey.’

It was also recognised for its staff development, low staff turnover and its customer service.

Aerial’s account manager Sam Elkins said: ‘It has been a really good night out for us all.

Winner of the Business Personality / Achiever of the Year Dominic Hones from Solent Forts Picture: Allan Hutchings (160145-746)

Winner of the Business Personality / Achiever of the Year Dominic Hones from Solent Forts Picture: Allan Hutchings (160145-746)

‘It is nice to see our hard work is valued.’

The evening saw scores of other awards handed out, with a party to celebrate afterwards.

Other accolades were given to a range of top names from a wide range of industries such as Creatiques Bridal Boutique in Southsea, which won best retailer, English Rose Collection, a private hire firm in Segensworth, which took the Customer Service award and saw its apprentice highly commended, and Aqua Cooling, a Fareham factory which won Innovation of the Year and the International Development award, plus many more.

Dominic Hones, Spitbank Fort manager, won the Business Personality of the Year Award. He said: ‘It was my first time at the awards and it has been amazing. To be part of it and to win is fantastic.’

Event organiser Liz Parker thanked everybody for making the night so special.

‘It was a great night,’ she said.

Apprentice of the Year Luke Topps from Menzies LLP Picture: Allan Hutchings (160145-652)

Apprentice of the Year Luke Topps from Menzies LLP Picture: Allan Hutchings (160145-652)

‘But it was only made possible by the wonderful businesses we have in and around Portsmouth.

‘Everybody who was shortlisted, and indeed honoured, should be truly proud of themselves.’

ROLL OF HONOUR

Headline Sponsor BAE Systems

Large Business

sponsored by Coffin Mew

Winner: Just Develop It

Medium Business

Sponsored by Santander

Winner:Aerial Business Communications

Highly-commended: NA Curtain Walling

Small Business

Sponsored by University of Portsmouth Business School

Winner: Precision Creative and Media

Highly-commended: Carrington West

Start-Up Business

Sponsored by Basepoint Business Centres

Winner: ThinkMarble

Highly-commended: Turbulent Design

Business Personality/Achiever

Sponsored by Menzies LLP

Winner:Dominic Hones, from Solent Forts

Highly-commended: Ian Dickson, from Unlocksuccess

Best Retailer

Sponsored by Snows BMW

Winner: Creatiques Bridal Boutique

Best Team

Winner: Marriott Hotel Portsmouth

Highly-commended: Solent Mobility Centre

Best Employer

Sponsored by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce

Winner: Dynamite Recruitment

Highly-commended: Precision Creative and Media

Community Contribution

Winner: Silver Lining Convergence

Highly-commended: Brewers The Lettings Agency

International Development

Sponsored by Smith & Williamson

Winner: Aqua Cooling

Customer Service Award

Sponsored by JSPC Computer Services

Winner: English Rose Collection

Apprentice

Sponsored by Giant Leap Video & Photography

Winner: Luke Topps, from Menzies LLP

Highly-commended: Toby East, from English Rose Collection

Hospitality Leisure & Tourism

Sponsored by Portsmouth Cultural Trust

Winner: Marriott Hotel Portsmouth

Innovation

Sponsored by University of Portsmouth Innovation Space

Winner: Aqua Cooling

Overall Business

Sponsored by Verisona Law

Winner: Aerial Business Communications

Lifetime Achievement

Sponsored by BAE Systems

Winner: David Oliver, from Verisona Law

Highly Commended Team of the Year, Solent Mobility Centre ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (160145-635)

Highly Commended Team of the Year, Solent Mobility Centre ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (160145-635)

Retailer of the Year, Creatiques Bridal Boutique Picture: Ian Hargreaves (160180-29)

Retailer of the Year, Creatiques Bridal Boutique Picture: Ian Hargreaves (160180-29)

Winners of the Start Up Business Think Marble with presenter Mark Chivers 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (160180-6)

Winners of the Start Up Business Think Marble with presenter Mark Chivers 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (160180-6)

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