IT WAS a night of celebration for local business as MP Alan Mak hosted the first-ever Havant Small Business Awards.
Thirty-one finalists competed in the showcase of local enterprises and businesspeople at South Downs College last night.
More than 150 friends and supporters attended the event.
The evening’s most prestigious award went to Emsworth’s Fresh From the Boat.
The family-run sustainable fishing company fought off strong competition to be crowned Havant Small Business of the Year 2016.
It received scores of public nominations, and earned rave reviews from judges who were impressed by inspiring initiatives such as the Community Fish Box – a subscription service for residents, which ensures they receive regularly deliveries of fish.
Fresh From The Boat also won the prize for Family Business of the Year.
The ceremony featured some wise words from guest speaker Paul Lindley, founder of the multi-million-pound organic baby food company Ella’s Kitchen.
The self-made entrepreneur spoke to finalists, residents, and community representatives about his struggles to build a business and his views about the role of business in wider society.
In all, 31 finalists were competing across 12 categories, the results of which will be published in Thursday’s News.
Mr Mak said: ‘Congratulations to all the winners and the many businesses who were nominated by residents.
‘A special well done to Peter and Chantelle Williams – the husband-and-wife team behind Fresh From The Boat.
‘Their Community Fish Box initiative and approach to business is inspiring; they fully deserve their Havant Small Business of the Year award.’
Mr Lindley added: ‘The awards have been a great success. It was a terrific event to be a part of.
‘I know how difficult it can be starting out with the dream of running your own business, but the drive and innovation was truly inspiring.’