CELEBRATING success was the theme of the seventh Leamington Business Awards which returned to a live event for the first time in three years.
Eleven winners were finally unveiled on Friday after being chosen from more than 180 nominations.
The ceremony, hosted by DJ – and Leamingtonian – Kirsty Leahy, took place at 1 Mill Street following a meal at The Drawing Board. It marked the completion of two stages of the Awards which earlier recognised COVID Business Resilience, Business Pivoting and Lockdown Heroes of 2020/21.
More than £1,000 was also raised through a raffle on the night which is being divided between the three finalists in the South Warwickshire Charity of the Year category – Molly Ollys, Safeline and Brunswick Hub.
Established in 2014 and now organised by Jonathan Smith, of Talk Business UK, the LBAs champion and celebrate the work of local businesses, individuals and organisations.
Jonathan said: “More so than ever, the judges were inspired by the resilience and ingenuity local businesses have shown in dealing with the pandemic and coming out the other side stronger and even more determined.
“It was a delight to read all the entries and learn so much more about the local individuals and their businesses and how they adapted and developed and used the challenges of the past two years to develop themselves, their people and their services.
“With businesses and organisations concentrating on getting their businesses and teams back up to speed, we decided to postpone the planned awards deadlines into 2022 and host the awards presentation in March. This was definitely the right decision as the volume and quality of entries we received for this year’s awards blew us away.”
The winners were chosen by a panel of five judges, including Roger Scott of Lloyds Bank and Sarah Windrum the Chair or the CWLEP and announced at a dinner and awards ceremony at The Drawing Board and 1 Mill Street in Leamington, on Friday, (March 18th). Each winner received a bespoke award designed by 3D design student, Ollie Hill from Warwickshire College.
Guest of honour Matt Western MP, gave a short speech in which he also acknowledged the war in Ukraine.
He said: “It’s very difficult for me not to think and talk about Ukraine. And I want to say to those businesses and organisations who have made things happen in the last few weeks, thank you, because Leamington has done some special things, including everything that’s been going on at the Polish Mission and elsewhere. I think about what it would be like for that sort of atrocity to come and destroy our town and appreciate more than ever just how precious it is. And it’s precious because of people like you.
“I had a niece who was in Kyiv right up until a couple of days before the Russian invasion. What we have – our lives, our relationships and our community, are so very important and that’s why I’m so grateful we can have events like this again so we can all share in the recognition of the special people in our community.”
He went on to add: “All the finalists here tonight are great examples of the wonderful businesses we have in Leamington district and I’m very passionate about keeping our towns together. Without our town centres, without those areas where people come together – for the contact, for the trade, to consume, and share ideas and opportunities, we have nothing so they’re so important to our psyche and our prosperity as well.”
Outstanding achievement (Sponsored by the Leamington Courier)
Winner: Vogue International
Judges’ comments: “Vogue and Liz have committed to the town for over three decades and played a crucial part in the fabric of Leamington on a local and global stage. Vogue, shows significant international achievement in their industry over an extended period of time along with contribution to local charity.
Employer of the Year (Sponsored by Leap People Solutions)
Winner: Aubrey Allen
Judges’ comments: “Aubrey Allen are clearly a business that take care of their team, have strong values that they live by every day, and they support their team on their own paths to success and greatness through the awards they have picked up.
New Business of the Year (Sponsored by Lodders Solicitors LLP)
Winner: Caremark Warwick
Judges’ comments: “Caremark has set up the business in a challenging sector during the pandemic, showing strong growth and employment and providing a valuable service to the local community.”
Business and the Community Award (Sponsored by BID Leamington)
Winner: Make Good Grow
Judges’ comments: “Make Good Grow are looking at business and community in a totally new, more innovative way, creating connections between the needs of charities and the expert providers of these services and skills.”
Independent Business of the Year (Sponsored by HB&O)
Winner: Modern Homes
Judges’ comments: “Loved the Covid hero competition as well as their business resilience and agility over the last two years. Great story about finding a new supplier on Zoom!”
Customer Service Excellence Award (Sponsored by The Box Factory)
Winner: WDC Art Section
Judges’ comments: “Impressive year on year improvement in customer feedback, strong focus on training and implementation of a creative range of ways to provide good service and measure feedback. The team will often be a visitor’s first interaction in our town and it is crucial for the wider business economy that their welcome is warm to keep people coming back!”
South Warwickshire Freelancer of the Year (Sponsored by Beyond The Book)
Winner: Washington Levi Music
Creative Business of the Year (Sponsored by Fresh Seed)
Judges’ comments: “Bringing dance to the masses for over 30 years using the latest technologies and gymnastic skills makes the choice of Motionhouse as Creative Business of the Year a simple one.
Innovation of the Year (Sponsored by Glued)
Winner: Nimbus Maps
South Warwickshire Charity of the Year
Winner: Brunswick Hub
Business of Year (Sponsored by ActionCOACH)
Judges’ comments: “They have made an enormous impact on Leamington, the region and around the world. From the award applications, Motionhouse has done the most for the region, as well as putting Leamington on the map.”
The previous winners of the first phase of the awards were:
Business Resilience Award:
WINNER: CJ’s Events, Warwick
This award went to a business that has demonstrated determination and resilience throughout the pandemic and tackled challenges head-on.
Business Pivot Award:
WINNER: Heartbreak Productions, Leamington
This category was open to any business that could demonstrate how they have ‘pivoted’ their product or service during the pandemic.
Lockdown Hero Award:
WINNER: Baabzi Takeaway, Warwick
This award recognised the Leamington business that has gone ‘above and beyond’ during 2020. The business may have provided products to vulnerable groups free of charge, offered their services pro-bono to struggling local businesses or individuals, or spread positivity during challenging times.