‘I JUST love this city and I love the people here’ – these were the words of the News Business Excellence Awards lifetime achievement winner.
The awards returned for their 15th year at the Portsmouth Guildhall last night and hundreds of people packed out the venue to see who would be recognised as the best in business.
The night also honoured one of its most deserved recipients to date – David Oliver, from Verisona Law, who was given the lifetime achievement award after being nominated secretly by his colleagues.
Modest Mr Oliver, from Southsea, was lured to the event under the presumption that he would be presenting an award – only to be completely shocked to be handed the most prestigious award of the night.
‘I am quite surprised. I had absolutely no idea,’ he said.
Mr Oliver, of Eastern Parade, has a rich and diverse background and has spent his life striving to be the best in business.
He has a long list of accolades and prestigious titles, including being the former President of Portsmouth Round Table, the former Deputy Coroner of Portsmouth and a Deputy District Judge, sitting locally until late 2014.
Despite this, he still had time to show his support for many good causes, as well as making a name for himself in business by forming Oliver & Co solicitors in Southsea, which merged to become Sherwin Oliver and then later merged with Blake Lapthorn.
He was head of insolvency at Blake Lapthorn for a number of years and a consultant at Verisona Law at Lakeside Northarbour, where he provided the insolvency advice to the team that rescued Portsmouth Football Club.
As a lifelong Portsmouth FC fan, helping to save the club with the supporters’ trust and bring it into fans’ ownership was a proud moment.
He said: ‘My father would have been very proud to see that I was involved with the club.
‘If it had not worked, then the club would have been gone completely.
‘I was in court the day the decision was made and it was a great moment.’
Mark Trapani, director of Portsmouth Community Football Club who is on the Pompey Supporters Trust board, said: ‘He is a colleague, a personal friend and a neighbour.
‘He was so helpful to us.
‘He was instrumental in giving the Pompey Supporters Trust the advice we needed at a really difficult time when we were trying to take the club out of liquidation.
‘His advice and help was so valuable. He does everything in such a nice way – he is genuinely a lovely man.’
However, humble Mr Oliver said everything he did was because of his love for the city.
‘I just love this city and I love the people here,’ he said.
‘I have been here for a long time now and it is nice to be recognised for my contribution to what has happened in this city over the years.’