Around 50 people celebrated excellence in local retail, manufacturing and service industries yesterday in the first-ever Shaftesbury Business Awards at the Grosvenor Arms Hotel.
CLICK TO LISTEN TO THE WINNERS: https://tinyurl.com/2p9cccjr
Alfred spoke with award winners, some of whom were emotional about being selected by a panel of anonymous judges. Organiser Nigel Reeve has hosted similar events in other Dorset towns and said he was pleased that the public submitted over 150 nominations. That was particularly impressive when you considered that the competition only applies to entrants within three miles of Shaftesbury town centre.
The top prize of Best Business went to Shaftesbury fashion retailer Shirley Allum. The High Street store was also considered the Best Place to Work. Emma Parkman picked up the award because Shirley was upcountry, buying stock. “Shirley’s really happy and delighted to have won the award,” said Emma. The shop was also named the Best Workplace, and employee Hetty Geach agreed with the judges’ decision.
The Best New Business Award went to wedding videographer Dan Pittman. Sadly, Dan couldn’t pick up his certificate. He’s hurt his back.
Sally picked up the Best Cafe and Dining Experience award for The Salt Cellar. She’s worked there for 27 years. “We’ve put in a lot of hard work,” Sally said. Judges praised owner Tim Askin for not resting on his laurels when he could rely on visitors with the cafe’s Gold Hill location. “We work hard all year. We don’t just take the money from the tourists in the summer. If we did, we’d have no trade in the winter because you need to look after your regular customers and locals,” he said.
The Beauty and Fashion award went to Jamie-Lee Andrews of JLA Beauty. “I was 20 years old when I started. I have got a lovely set of staff and couldn’t have done it without them,” Jamie-Lee said.
The judges felt the Health and Fitness award should go to Shaftesbury CrossFit owner Chris Garrett. The judges were impressed by the strong community Chris has created at the Wincombe-based business. “The main thing is making everybody welcome,” Chris told us.
Lucy Barford of Coconut and Cotton won the Green and Eco award, which was collected by her mum, Alison Barfoot. Lucy is making a sustainability documentary in Costa Rica. In our interview, Alison tells Alfred that Lucy showed interest in retail from an early age.
The Family Business award went to La Fleur De Lys restaurant and rooms. “Some staff have been with us for over ten years now,” said Mary Griffin-Shepherd.
Receiving the Best Retail award was a moving experience for Dawn Small of Willow. “To be singled out and flagged up, it’s nice, isn’t it,” said Dawn, who immediately put her award on her mantelpiece. In our report, Dawn tells us that her customers are impressed by the amount of unique independent stores in Shaftesbury.
There was glowing praise from the judges for Elite Garage for their Customer Service as they were presented with that award. Richard Whittemore told Alfred that the business has a five-star Google review rating. “You can’t get any better than that. It’s just a fantastic team.” Area manager Ricky Dyer told Alfred, “We try to treat all our customers as best we can.” And Kelsie Whittemore said her family was ‘especially proud’ because their Shaftesbury site has only been open nearly a year.
The Best Independent Business award went to Anita Horek of Kit and Kaboodle.
The Young Entrepreneur prize was presented to 28-year-old Brad Hansford of estate agent Meyers. “I wouldn’t define myself as young. I guess I’m still young to many people, so I’ll take that,” Brad smiled.
Russell Miles is managing director of Wessex Fire and Electrical, the business that won the Best Innovation award. He told Alfred that the local company had grown since the 1960s “to employ a couple of hundred people, doing lots of innovation with new technologies, energy saving and solar panels.”
The Wincombe Centre provides flexible office space, and manager Wendy Ibbotson understood that her Best B2B (business to business) award recognised how her company helps local businesses. “We see them at all different levels. We see them through difficult times and see them start, which is one of the hardest things. And we’ve got a few start-ups with us now, which is brilliant because the economy is not doing as bad as we think it is.”
High Street jeweller The Golden Snowdrop won the Best Artisan and Craft award. Founder Stephanie Douthwaite employs local craftspeople who produce the pieces she sells. “We can support these creative people that are working from home. Lots of our artisans are mums as well.” Stephanie found the judges’ decision overwhelming. “It’s the first time my business has won an award,” she said.
The judges decided to put some businesses in different categories from the one they were initially nominated for. As a result, Hannah and Liam Jefferson of Woodfry’s Farm Campsite in Melbury Abbas won the Digital award. “All our social media is self-learned. We’ve had to build the website from scratch ourselves. It takes up a lot of time, so it is lovely to be recognised for that,” said Hannah.
Organiser and Chamber of Commerce chair Virginia Edwyn-Jones is delighted. “It’s so fabulous that people get a chance to be acknowledged, to tell others what they do and for somebody you don’t know to look at what you do and say ‘you’re good at that’ is brilliant. It was just a life-affirming thing when we’re surrounded by so much gloom and doom in the news,” said Virginia.
Nigel has confirmed that the awards will be held again this year. “Next year, it could be you,” said Virginia. You can learn about the awards at shaftesburybusinessawards.co.uk.
La Fleur De Lys JLA Beauty Shaftesbury and Gillingham The Grosvenor Arms Crossfit Shaftesbury Coconut Cotton Elite Garages The Wincombe Centre Willow Shaftesbury Meyers Estate Agents Wessex Fire & Security Kit & Kaboodle Shirley Allum Boutique Golden Snowdrop Woodfrys Farm