The South Cheshire Chamber Awards returned in spectacular style with Falklands war hero Simon Weston joining in a tribute to the business community’s resilience and innovation in the face of adversity.
After being postponed last year due to the pandemic, there was a full house for the gala ceremony at Reaseheath College where the former Welsh Guardsman heaped praise on businesses and individuals for not only surviving but thriving during the crisis.
The guest speaker recounted the dreadful day when RFA Sir Galahad was blown up off the Falklands Islands leaving him with such horrific burn injuries his mother didn’t recognise her 20 year-old son. After multiple operations, he threw himself into charity work and appearing at functions as an inspirational speaker.
His appearance at the Chamber event was long-awaited after restrictions forced cancellation last year and Mr Weston CBE seized the opportunity to recognise the determination of local businesses to overcome challenge.
“I had to reinvent myself just as many of you have during the pandemic,” he said. “It’s this re-investment that makes you valuable and relevant. Well done, you have made it work.”
Enterprise, achievement and innovation has been celebrated by the Chamber at its annual Awards since 1986. And this year’s ceremony proved as joyous and memorable as the many etched in minds down the years.
Stepping into the limelight were business stars in nine categories. They proved excellence in their specific areas while demonstrating support of staff and local community.
Crewe winners were Motherwell Cheshire, a service promoting the health of women and children, recognised for Contribution to the Community, Market Hall-based artist David Jewkes who runs community drawing classes, for Excellence in Collaboration and Safe Opportunities, an organisation offering young people a range of employability programmes, named Ambassador of the Year.
Savouring success in Nantwich was the Cheese Shop as Start Up Business of the Year, mobility retailer Ableworld, Business of the Year (25 plus employees) and Christopher Worrall, Apprentice of the Year, who works at care provider Right at Home South Cheshire.
Other winners were Aqueduct Marina, Church Minshull, Excellence in Customer Service, health and safety consultants Rhino Safety, Sandbach, Business of the Year (under 25 employees) and Ansa Environmental Services, Middlewich,Employer of the Year.
The event once again attracted high profile backing. Afford Bond Chartered Accountants was main sponsor with commercial property agent Legat Owen and health and safety consultants Rhino Safety as support sponsors.
Categories, winners and sponsors were:
Ambassador of the Year: Safe Opportunities (Cheshire East Council
Apprentice of the Year: Christopher Worrall, Right at Home South Cheshire (Reaseheath College)
Business of the Year (under 25 employees): Rhino Safety (Hibberts LLP)
Business of the Year (25 and more employees): Ableworld (Cheshire College South & West)
Contribution to the Community: Motherwell Cheshire (Bentley supported by Cheshire Connect)
Employer of the Year: Ansa Environmental Services (Assurant)
Excellence in Customer Service: Aqueduct Marina (KPI Recruiting Ltd)
Excellence in Collaboration: David Jewkes (Construction Linx)
Start Up Business of the Year: The Cheese Shop (Right at Home supported by South Cheshire Development Agency).
Those pipped at the post were delighted to receive highly commended certificates.
Chamber Chair Diane Wright said: “Simon Weston’s story is all about survival, rebuilding and determination and these themes resonate strongly. We are delighted to celebrate those who have not just survived but have rebuilt and renewed themselves and their businesses.”
Chief Executive Paul Colman said: “The ceremony was sorely missed last year but returned triumphantly giving the whole business community a chance to reflect and see just how far we have come.
“We will continue to showcase the fantastic array of businesses and talented individuals we have in South Cheshire, not only on awards night, but all year round and speak up for them at national level.”
For more on the Awards night go to www.southcheshirechamberbusinessawards.co.uk