Shocked and speechless business people were honoured for their successes and achievements at the Business Matters Awards on Friday.
Run in partnership with the Crawley Observer, Mid Sussex Times, West Sussex County Times and the Sussex Express, the annual awards aim to highlight the firms central to driving the region’s economy.
The evening was hosted by television newsreader and presenter Fred Dinenage, with several winners admitted to being speechless while one or two burst into tears after receiving their awards.
PJ Aldred and Marion Carter, who run Horsham Markets, said they were blown away by receiving the Small Business Award.
PJ said: “I’m absolutely speechless. When we saw the huge list of names we did not imagine in a million years we would win. There are some great small businesses out there.”
Capital Consulting International Limited, which provides forensic planning and time delay analysis and is based in Worthing Road, Horsham, claimed Medium Business of the Year.
Alan Purbrick, the firm’s chief executive officer, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic. We are so proud to have won this award. It does mean a lot to us, and it means a lot to the team because we are very team focused.”
IT firm Damovo UK, which has its headquarters is in Broadlands Business Park just outside of Horsham, was named Large Business of the Year.
Representing Damovo were Michelle Brodrick, Alison Kershaw and Lynsey Tucker. The trio thought the award particularly recognised their apprenticeship scheme which has run for three years. They said employing young people in a dynamic and fast moving industry such as IT and telecoms was critical.
A pair of businesses came out holding two trophies. Taylor Made Uniforms won Retailer of the Year and Readers’ Choice. Voice from the Coal Shed picked up Business Personality and Overall Business of the Year.
Taylor Made Uniforms’ Zoe Taylor set up the school uniform supplier in 2010 and now stocks 15 schools in Horsham and Crawley.
She said: “It’s just amazing to be known now within Horsham. It just proves that the 70-hour weeks have paid off.”
Kaytie Harding, choral director for Voice from the Coal Shed, which sets up choirs and singing projects for people who would not normally sing, said she was stunned by the second award.
She added: “We are going to sing it from the rooftops. If it means more people say, ‘We can sing’ it makes a difference.”
Lewes-based charity Furniture Now, which recycles household furniture for the benefit of local residents and offers training opportunities for young people and those with learning disabilities or other long-term disabilities, won Employee/Team of the Year.
Petrina Mayson, chief executive officer, said: “It’s fantastic. It will mean an awful lot to the 100 volunteers and 21 staff. This will make a huge difference to see that their hard work has been recognised.”
Three firms retained their awards from 2012.
First Central Insurance Management, one of Haywards Heath’s largest employers, was named Employer of the Year.
Carrie Cort of Horsham-based environment educational club Sussex Green Living took home the Going Green Award.
And Restaurant Tristan in East Street, Horsham, won Place to Eat for the second-year running.
Representing First Central Insurance, Jo Cunnington and Peter Creed said it was wonderful to be recognised considering the amount of work they put into the professional development of their school and university leavers.
Carrie Cort added: “It can be quite a lonely job working on a voluntary basis so it’s wonderful to be recognised and it raises awareness of my mission to encourage people to live more sustainably.”
Newhaven Enterprise Centre won Small Business of the Year in 2012, but walked away with the Customer Service Award this year.
Roxanne Haid, centre manager, said: “With so many great people here we did not think we had a chance. It’s great because we deal with so many customers on a day to day basis so it reflects really well on the everyday work that we do.”
Anthony Parkins, managing director at Burgess Hill-based media and marketing company Qaboo, said winning the Innovation of the Year Award was testament to their work in allowing businesses to support others .
He explained: “To be recognised for that is great. It means we are doing the right thing because we are trying to support them the best we can and to get something back from that is great.”
Pene Mather, development manager at Sussex Community Rail Partnership based out of Pulborough Railway Station, said the staff and volunteers would be ‘celebrating the win for a very long time’ after being named the winner of the Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Award.
One of the final awards of the night went to Adam Walker, a director at Crickmay Chartered Surveyors, which was honoured for more than two decades of bringing firms into Horsham.
He said: “It’s a great honour and a great surprise but I’m incredibly grateful. It’s nice to be recognised for making a difference.”