The West Norfolk Mayor’s Business Awards honoured those who make the region such a powerhouse of success at a presentation evening on Friday.
The first award of the evening -Independent Retailer of the Year – went to Great Bircham Stores & Cafe and owner Mark Orton was delighted to have won.
Based on Lynn Road, the independent retailer sells household essentials as well as local and homemade produce.
When announcing the category, David Blackmore said: “When it comes to independent retailers, West Norfolk has some real gems and this was a highly-contested category.
“In choosing the winner, our judges looked at customer service, market and customer engagement, products and services, innovation, and the ability to consumer trends and growth plans.
“The finalists were Great Bircham Stores & Cafe, the Nip & Growler Ale House, and The Bottom Drawer Bridal Boutique.”
Speaking about what the award means to him, Mr Orton said: “It is difficult to express. Without being deeply profound, it is what makes me wake and it is what makes me sleep. It drives me.
“I am an old man working harder than I have ever worked before, but it gets me up at three in the morning and it is what makes me sleep again on a night.”
Emma Smith of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) beat off stiff competition from Max Armitage of Carers Elite when she was named winner of the Apprentice or Trainee of the Year.
Ms Smith is a senior healthcare assistant who works in rehabilitative and palliative care.
This award was sponsored by MARS FOODS and when revealing the winner, Gary Piper said: “This award goes to an individual whose enthusiasm for their role, and for learning, is infectious.
“This person has excelled in their role, expanding their own knowledge and putting it to very good practice.
“You simply cannot fail to be impressed by this individual.”
On the night, representatives from MARS FOODS presented Ms Smith with a bottle of champagne to further congratulate her success.
She said: “I am honoured to have received this award. I really did not expect it.
“Thank you to everybody who has supported me, my managers, my work colleagues and my family. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
The audience in the Corn Exchange heard Emma say that she wanted to carry on her training to one day become a qualified nurse.
A huge celebration was heard when True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum were announced as winners of the Leisure and Tourism award.
Sponsored by Alive Leisure, Peter Lemmon was called on stage to present this award to its excited recipients.
He said: “This was an extremely hard fought battle. All three finalists have achieved much over the past year and have very impressive plans in place.
“There can be, however, only one winner.
“The award for Leisure and Tourism goes to an organisation who has demonstrated outstanding community involvement and staff development.”
Finalists for this award also included Majestic Cinema and The Princess Theatre.
On accepting the award, Lindsey Bavin said: “This is a wonderful achievement and we are so proud.
“It is a testament to our volunteers for all their hard work they have done and they continue to do. We literally couldn’t have done this without them.
“Thank you so much to the teams who decided to give us this award. We are so proud.”
A company which aims to deliver stylish, modern and effective interior solutions to meet their customers’ work space requirements claimed the Small Business of the Year award.
Anglia Partitions beat worthy fellow nominees, K Brown Auto Repairs and White China to capture the trophy.
Sponsored by Mapus-Smith Lemmon, Jason Hall was called on stage to present this award to officials from Anglia Partitions.
He said: “We received a record number of entries in the small business award this year which made choosing a shortlist of three very difficult.
“All three shortlisted businesses showed great entrepreneurial spirit, commitment and drive to make their business a fantastic success.
“The business we have chosen to win the award has invested heavily in the last year to expand and drive their business forward.
“They are committed to providing the best level of customer service possible as well as a wide range of projects and services.”
On accepting the award, managing director Ian Swadling said: “It is amazing after 30-year in business to have been entered for an award let alone win one.
“We are surprised, we just can’t believe it. It is great for all the team and everyone who as worked with us as well as local businesses who have supported us.
“We are impressed with this whole evening and we would like to thank the organisers.”
“I am over the moon. Not in a million years did I ever think that I would actually win this award,” said Stacey Locks, the Employee of the Year.
Stacey works for Dedicated Care, which provides supported living, housing and holidays to adults with disabilities. The services aims to enhances people’s lives by making sure they can “get the most out of it”.
The film accompanying the presentation quoted her boss as saying that “Everybody needs a Stacey”.
This award was decided by a readers’ poll in the pages of the Lynn News and hundreds of people cast votes to choose between a shortlist of three.
The award was presented by Lynn News editor Mark Leslie, who said: “The award this year has been decided by public vote, and the public certainly voted in volume.
“All of the nominees got an impressive number of votes, but the decisive majority went to the winner, Stacey Locks, of Dedicated Care Ltd.”
Admitting her heart was in her belly when accepting this award, Ms Locks said: “I am absolutely over the moon. It just makes everything worthwhile, I am so proud. I cannot explain how happy I feel.
“Thank you to my bosses, my family, my children, my husband, everyone who nominated me and a huge thank you to the sponsors. My father-in-law is watching over me tonight.”
The other nominees was Lawrence Thetford, of the Bank House restaurant and bar in Lynn and James Covell, of Covell Construction.
When Chris Girdlestone of HUT42 Ltd was awarded the Businessperson of the Year award a huge cheer erupted from the audience.
Mr Girdlestone won over worthy competitors Ben Lukey of AMA Waste Management Ltd and Jonathon Lofthouse of Carers Elite.
John Weston, of sponsors Brown & Co, announced the winner and said: “There was a very high standard of entries for this year’s award covering a diverse range of businesses across the borough - waste management, care services and information technology – so separating this year’s candidates was never going to be an easy task.
“Our winner however, identified a clear market need for their offering and brought it into existence to provide an exceptional service for a clientele locally as well as across the UK and around the world.
“The rapid growth of the company is testament to this individual’s business acumen.”
Admitting he was speechless when his name was announced, Mr Girdlestone said: “We have only been a business since November 2016 so it has been a long road but, we have gone through a lot.
“This is my first business so to receive this award is amazing but, it is a really big reflection of the team effort that has gone in this last year.
“I really didn’t expect to win this award, it feels really good. Seeing the other candidates, I didn’t think I really stood a chance. It was a genuine shock.”
A healthcare service which provides nearly 37,000 patients in West Norfolk with top quality care claimed the Customer Care award.
Vida Healthcare aims to provide “top quality healthcare to patients in a cheerful, relaxed, low stress environment by an efficient, amenable and accessible practice team,” and has been awarded for its triumphant efforts.
Sponsor Samantha Hart of Larkfleet Homes Norfolk and Suffolk, who presented this award to officials from Vida Healthcare, said: “This award goes to an organisation who truly does go the extra mile.
“Their ability to deliver a personal service to their customers and their staff is truly impressive. This is an organisation to be proud of.”
On receiving the award, Sarah Hill said: “It is marvellously, absolutely marvellously. It is not an easy job but we love it. This shows what we are doing truly matters.
“We would like to thank everybody who has supported us throughout this as well as our patients. This is a patient nominated award. We are so amazed.”
“Just to be nominated in itself is amazing, but to have won is just the icing on top of the cake,” said Clare Biggs, owner of Nip & Growler Ale House which picked up the Business Innovation award.
The Nip and Growler Ale House is homed in the heart of Lynn and run by two best friends, Clare Biggs and Elise Rout, who serve locally sourced ciders and ales.
Paul Gardner of NWES, who sponsored the category, said: “This award goes to a business who has worked and succeeded in creating a new, innovative approach to selling their products; the result of which is a unique experience for all their customers.”
On receiving the award, Ms Biggs said: “It is totally amazing. We are so happy. We didn’t think we would actually win, we never thought we would, never. It is incredible.”
Finalists for the Business Innovation award also included HUT42 Ltd and Norfolk Creative Arts.
The final and arguably most prestigious award of the evening – the Mayor’s Business of the Year – went to Carter Accommodation.
Darren Arnold and Jonathan Smith were delighted to step forward to accept the trophy, presented by the borough mayor, Carol Bower.
Carter Accommodation specialise in the hire and sale of modular accommodation including anti-vandal units, jackleg cabins, containers, showers and toilets.
Mrs Bower said: “The judges of the Mayor’s Business of the Year were very impressed with all three of our finalists, and it was a genuine pleasure to see and learn more about all three of them, and I wish them all well for the future.
“The winner of the Mayor’s Business of the Year has exhibited strong business performance, backed by clarity of purpose, working to industry leading standard, and a commitment to continuous innovation.
“It shows that it is possible to start and to grow a high successful business in West Norfolk which competes successfully on a national scale.”
Jonathan Smith said: “For us, it is recognition of being a local company and being able to compete at a multi-national level over a long period of time.
“We are only a local company but we can do it on many levels, and we would like to try and think other companies will follow suit of what we do.”