Triumph in the face of adversity was the star of the show as South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce celebrated outstanding business talent at its 25th Anniversary Business Awards.
The ceremony at Reaseheath College was another uplifting occasion where ability to overcome challenge and succeed through creativity and goodwill to the community was honoured before a sell-out audience of local companies and charities.
They heard how finalists, many still reeling over the difficulties of the Covid pandemic, had ploughed resources into customer service and staff welfare. All were ready to take on the economic downturn.
Chamber Chair Dr Diane Wright said: “So much has changed since we began the awards and indeed in the last few years. We have left the European Union, had a global pandemic from which we haven’t fully recovered as well as four prime ministers and two monarchs and a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Yet the grit, resilience and determination of our business community in the face of these social, political, global and economic events remains quite staggering.
“The Chamber is delighted to offer a platform where we can recognise factors other than turnover or profit. The Awards celebrate community, collaboration, social impact, innovation, inclusivity, diversity, ethical working, staff wellbeing and developing the workforce of the future.”
Awards were handed out in nine categories with Start Up Business of the Year creating a flurry of fresh faces. Winner Platinum Construction in Nantwich has proved a success story despite beginning its journey in the health crisis when materials like cement were in short supply.
Everybody Health and Leisure won Contribution to the Community after implementing a programme of support for long Covid patients and the Wishing Well charity in Crewe took the Excellence in Collaboration award for teaming up with major employers to help the community Start, Live and Age Well.
There was recognition also for businesses helping to put South Cheshire on the map as a place to visit. Crewe Market Hall earned the Ambassador of the Year award after a crowd-pulling revamp. Business of the Year (25 plus employees) was Church Minshull’s Aqueduct Marina which runs popular narrowboat facilities.
Another hotly-contested category was Business of the Year (under 25 employees). Winners were Crewe-based family firm Qualkem Ltd which manufactures chemical solutions for a variety of sectors including dental and veterinary with a deep-rooted commitment to sustainability.
The Excellence in Customer Service award went to Middlewich-based Everything Dinosaur which exports its dinosaur and prehistoric animal toys, models and clothing to more than 100 countries. With a background in paleontology, they spread love for the ‘wonderful world of extinct animals.’
Employer of the Year winner was Nantwich-based care provider Right at Home which is changing perceptions of working in the health and social care industry with guaranteed hours contracts, pay above industry rates and a culture where employees are celebrated and nurtured.
Apprentice of the Year winner was Joshua Hallam, a young man working for the Amplo Group in Crewe where he has excelled on an Administration Apprenticeship.
All entries were of a high standard. This year saw a Special Recognition award go to the Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity which fundraises for improvements and additional comforts such as a hypnotherapy service for people being treated for cancer.
The night attracted generous sponsorship from big names locally – Assurant, Bentley Motors, Cheshire College South & West, Cheshire Connect, Cheshire East Council, Construction Linx, Hibberts, KPI Recruiting Ltd, Reaseheath College, Rhino Safety and South Cheshire Development Agency Ltd.
Optimum Pay Group sponsored the VIP Drinks Reception and Trinity Create, the Main Drinks Reception. Comperes were Gary Johnson and Neil Davies of Cat 107.9FM and publicity by Jan Roberts of Pure PR. Imagery by Paul Harrison of Studio One, Nantwich.
Looking to 2023, Chamber CEO Paul Colman said South Cheshire was well placed to survive the economic downturn with HS2 attracting inward investment and more projects coming on stream from the £23m Towns Fund led by Crewe Town Board and £14m on improvements via the Future High Streets Fund.
He said: “In the long history of the Chamber we have seen how local businesses rise to a challenge, no more so than in the pandemic. Innovation and resilience is all around us.
“As active members of the British Chambers of Commerce we will continue to lobby at local and national level for South Cheshire and we welcome feedback from businesses who need support and would like to join us.”
To join the Chamber member community visit sccci.co.uk/become-a-member