Gift firm wraps up top prize at Oswestry Business Awards
The great and good of Oswestry came together at a glittering celebration of the area's business successes at a ceremony in the town last night.
The Lion Quays Hotel and Resort played host to the second annual Oswestry Business Awards, handed out by the Shropshire Star's sister paper, the Oswestry and Border Chronicle.
About 250 people attended the event, a rise on the inaugural year, cheering and applauding as the nine winners of the various categories were revealed.
Family-run online gift retailer The Gift Experience walked away with the top award on the night, knocking back stiff competition from solicitors firm Lanyon Bowdler and Applewood Wealth Management.
It was one of two awards for the firm, which also walked away with the Best Online Business category, sponsored by Morris Cook.
In the Company of the Year award, judges were on the lookout for an established, successful business which demonstrated best practice and showcased success, and were hard pushed to select a winner in the closely fought category.
Shropshire Star assistant editor Carl Jones, who compered the event, told the crowd: "Tonight is a night for celebration, a platform to showcase the best businesses that the area has to offer.
"It's a reminder that, amidst all the talk of recession and stagnation in the economy, determination and innovation are thriving.
"There are many, many businesses in our area who are not only surviving in the current economic climate, but positively flourishing, and we have heard about 20 organisations which have made it through to the finals, and crowned nine winners.
"Not everyone walked away with a trophy, but making it onto the shortlist in the face of such tough competition is no mean achievement in itself."
Other winners on the night included GWR Fasteners Ltd of Oswestry, which nicked in ahead of Elegant Finishing Touches and Purebeauty Ltd from Welshpool in the Young Business of the Year category, sponsored by Turner Peachey.
The customer service award, sponsored by Aubrey Kirkham Funeral Directors, went to BBR Opticians, which beat off competition from Agritel Ltd of Oswestry, and Stonehouse Brewery Ltd, also in Oswestry.
Venue dressing service Elegant Finishing Touches, which had also supplied the seat covers for the ceremony, scooped the Best Small Business Award sponsored by Lanyon Bowdler from GWR Fasteners and Stonehouse Brewery.
The Innovation category was landed by Derwas of Welshpool, and the Young Business Entrepreneur, sponsored by the Charlotte Hartey Foundation, went to Gemma Manning-Bentley of Gemmipop Designs in Oswestry.
The British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry and Booka Bookshop landed the Community Champion category sponsored by Lion Quays and the Independent Retailer of the Year Award – sponsored by Oswestry Chamber of Commerce – respectively.
Meanwhile, Tristan Hartey, from the Charlotte Hartey Foundation, also spoke movingly about the work of the foundation at the awards dinner.
It was set up by Charlotte's family in her memory after she died at the age of 16 in 2009, after complications arose when she was misdiagnosed with swine flu.
Now, the foundation gives money to youth clubs, schools and organisations and funds projects and ventures aimed at giving young people the chance to reach their full potential, and Mr Hartey, Charlotte's brother, explained its role in local society.
And the business award winners are:
Best Small Business sponsored by Lanyon Bowdler: Elegant Finishing Touches, Oswestry.
Customer Service sponsored by Aubrey Kirkham Funeral Directors: BBR Opticians, Oswestry.
Young Business of the Year sponsored by Turner Peachey: GWR Fasteners, Oswestry.
Innovation, sponsored by The Pickstock Group: Derwas of Welshpool.
Young Business Entrepreneur, sponsored by The Charlotte Hartey Foundation: Gemma Manning-Bentley, of Gemmipop Designs, Oswestry.
Independent Retailer of the Year, sponsored by Oswestry Chamber of Commerce: Booka Bookshop, Oswestry.
Community Champion, sponsored by Lion Quays Waterside Resort: The British Ironwork Centre, Oswestry.
Best Online Business, sponsored by Morris Cook: The Gift Experience, Ellesmere.
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