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Businesses from across Hart and Rushmoor are celebrating, and perhaps even nursing a few sore heads, after cleaning up at a lavish awards ceremony in Hook.
Firms from across the Get Hampshire area took away eight of the 13 awards on offer at the Inspire Business Awards on Thursday night, which were held at Highfield Park Hotel.
A total of 16 out of 39 businesses hailed from Hart and Rushmoor, and featured in 11 of the 13 categories.
These ranged from recognition for marketing efforts, encouraging sustainability, rewarding entrepreneurial spirit, recognising innovation and investing in the community.
Their efforts over the past year were vindicated with a flurry of awards, beating off stiff competition from Basingstoke and Deane and Test Valley.
After a champagne reception, dinner and entertainment, the first award of the night, New Business of the Year, went to The Typeface Group of Winchfield.
The company was founded in April 2013 and works with small and medium-sized businesses on their social media, PR and communications, and also company design and branding.
Led by three female directors, all balancing busy families lives with their work, managing director Polly Buckland said the team were ‘over the moon’ to win the award.
“We’re refining our business all the time,” she said. “It gives us a massive confidence boost to be recognised and motivates us to keep improving and give our customers extra value.”
Tylney Hall Hotel of Rotherwick, near Hook, was crowned Sustainable Business of the Year, with the award accepted by sales, marketing and PR coordinator Lorna Mann.
The hotel has been working on its sustainability the past four years, increasing its recycling rate from 20% to 60%, fitting energy-efficient lighting and forming a sustainability committee.
Accountancy firm Jupp Castle was triumphant in the Marketing Campaign of the Year award after embarking on a complete rebrand last year, which has boosted turnover by 35%.
“We wanted a bit more pizzazz,” said director Heather O’Reilly. “People like it, we’ve had really good feedback. It’s really worked for us so we’re delighted with this award.”
The night’s big winner was Blackbushe-based sonar technology firm Sonardyne, which came away with not one, but two awards - International Business of the Year and Innovation Excellence.
Founded in 1971, Sonardyne employs more than 200 at Blackbushe and 75 worldwide, producing sonar equipment to aide underwater communication and navigation.
Director Graham Brown said: “In 43 years, we’ve grown a business employing hundreds of local people, which has owned and created various technology to solve people’s problems. It’s nice to be recognised in our community like this.”
A year ago, Aldershot Town FC launched its community partnership. Its efforts to integrate across the town’s varied populace has since earned the Shots Inspire’s Business in the Community award.
Shahid Azeem, Aldershot Town FC chairman, said the award only served to illustrate how a small club lives and thrives off its community.
“We want to make a real difference and galvanise our sponsors and supports to put something back into soceity,” said Mr Azeem. “And I think we’re getting there, although there is a long way to go.”
There were also a number of individual winners. Alan Arnold of Farnborough-based Infinity Motorcycles was crowned Employee of the Year and spoke of his pride taking home the trophy.
“This award means absolutely everything to me,” he said. “I didn’t do particularly well at school, so to come into a business like this and for them to realise there was something in me is such an honour.”
Meanwhile, fresh from his business TempCover winning Business of the Year at last year’s awards, chief executive Alan Inskip said winning Entrepreneur of the Year this year was ‘the icing on top’.
TempCover provides short-term motor vehicle insurance coverage of between a day and 28 days. It was brought to market in April 2006 and now turns over around £16m a year.
“I go up and get the award, but really it’s about everybody else,” he said. “We are doing every very well. This year is our best ever, last month was our best ever, this month should be our best ever again. It’s all just building and building and going from strength to strength.”
The awards were organised by Destination Basingstoke and supported by, among others, Rushmoor Borough Council and also Hart District Council.
Inspire this year chose to supper The Pink Place cancer charity as its cause, which provides hair services, beauty therapies and counselling to people with cancer in north Hampshire.