THERE were tears of joy and jaws that dropped to the floor in surprise, as well as a stage at one point awash with spilled Champagne as this year’s Business Excellence Awards reached their climax.
Organised by The News, the awards are held each year to honour the best businesses in the wider Portsmouth region, from Chichester to Petersfield and over to Park Gate.
It is always a night of celebration and a chance to reflect on the hard work that has been done during the past 12 months, and last night’s event at the Guildhall in Portsmouth was no exception.
Hosted by television personality Fred Dinenage, the theme of the awards was victory – whether it was triumph in the face of adversity, expansions, personal achievements, or helping the community.
Introducing the awards on the Guildhall’s main stage last night, editor Mark Waldron said: ‘We have been amazed how many businesses in our area have stood firm during the recession, turning its challenges into opportunities, and refusing to be beaten.
‘It is plain to see, now that recession is behind us, those companies remain resilient and steadfast in their purpose – to be the best at what they do.
‘We are honouring those businesses and people who haven’t backed down, who have straightened their spines in the face of an oncoming storm, and who have not only weathered it but emerged stronger.
‘We want everyone to know that, in the wider Portsmouth region, our businesses are some of the most resilient, innovative, and determined of any in the country – and not to mention some of the most interesting.
‘We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the entrants, so thank you to all who took part and are here tonight.’
There were 13 hard-fought categories at last night’s awards, culminating in the Overall Business of the Year award, and the Lifetime Achievement gong.
There were some, like Suzanne Stokes, from Squirrels Daycare, winner of the Customer Service Awards, who were rendered temporarily speechless by their award.
But then there were others, like Dynamite Recruitment, winner of Team of the Year, Small/Medium Sized Business of the Year, and Overall Business of the Year, who were literally jumping for joy when their names were read out by Fred.
The fun spilled over onto social media as well, with businesses short-listed in the categories tweeting from the ceremony using the #NewsBiz hashtag.
Special thanks was given by Mr Waldron to award sponsors BAE Systems, and category sponsors Coffin Mew, Solent Innovation Business Angels, University of Portsmouth, Gemma Lighting, Portsmouth Property Association, Hampshire County Council, Cascades Shopping Centre, Portsmouth Cultural Trust, Douglas Stafford, JSPC Computer Services and Verisona Law.