It’s that time of year when regionally, nerves and adrenaline run high as businesses vie for recognition of their hard work. We’re in a fortunate position to have these high profile opportunities to shout about our achievements. Probably the best example is the Dorset Business Awards, which has demonstrated excellence in our organisations for more than 17 years; they continue to find deserving winners year on year, all who help to make our county an exciting place to live and work.

Dorset Business Awards Launch Event Photo

Dorset Business Awards Launch Event 2011

The judging process has been done and dusted and the finalists have all been notified. They now have the awful ‘butterflies’ to cope with for the next few weeks until the gala dinner on November 24th at Poole’s Lighthouse when the winners are finally announced in front of approximately 600 movers and shakers. It’s a great night. Organised annually by Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, it’s a full 12-month operation and the attention to detail is enormous. So much goes into the whole process behind the scenes, it is a credit to the DCCI and its sponsors. Debra Stephenson is lined up to host the ceremony this year which is going to add a really fun dynamic (here’s hoping she weaves in her Davina McCall impression which is genius).

Personally, it also gives me a perfect excuse to think about the sumptuous subject of evening wear. I have come to realise that I have a real guilty pleasure for the whole black tie thing. You can never have enough satin, sequins and shimmer in your life. My lovely friend, Jane, who works for LV= borrowed some gear to attend a fancy London awards do the other week (congratulations by the way to LV= for winning the Best Customer Service in Financial Services award!). It’s exciting to see my kit used like a library for ‘awards night’ attire. I’m sure my long suffering other half hopes that it doesn’t come back; he’s convinced one day our wardrobe is going to fall through the floor and land in our kitchen downstairs! I just can’t help myself when a posh job is coming up, there might just be a dress that is even more gorgeous out there somewhere, calling me…it simply has to be done.

I wish anyone who is up for an award this winter all the luck in the world, whether it’s the business awards or the forthcoming Bournemouth Tourism Awards. With so much investment still going into hotels, restaurants and other features of the area, we are all genuinely the winners. We’re very excited to see the new head chef making major rumbles at The Green Room in Bournemouth, as well as a new head chef at La Roche based at The Haven Hotel, and to hear news of a second Koh Thai Tapas in the Triangle due to open very soon. 2012 looks like it’s going to be vibrant in our little enclave.

My blatant plug of the month continues on the award theme, going to Dorset’s online TV station ISSTV ( for winning best ‘Best Online Video Platform in Europe’ with web and software developers i2i Media. Presented by Streaming Media Magazine, ISSTV station director Michaela Cotty received the award at a London ceremony. The future of online TV is pretty much here (has anyone played with the mirroring mode on the Apple IOS5 system yet?) and ISSTV founder, the talented, late Stephanie Penrose would have been so proud of this achievement; a huge “well done” to Michaela and her team.

The Willingham family on a personal note is still missing the stinky breath and comedy, harbour fishing antics of our special dog, Zennor, who passed away in June. Our house, Liz Lean PR office, camping trips, even the beach, is not quite the same without a four-legged friend sniffing around. So, it is likely that a pup – much to the excitement of the kids – will be joining the extended household in the near (ish) future. The dilemma is…what kind? We are in touch with the amazing local ‘Waggy Tails Rescue’ charity that found the crazy Heinz 57 that was Zennor all those 15 years ago; can they find another for us now? Time will tell if the right one is out there. If it is, no doubt it will be a chaotic winter of house training and keeping my beloved piano legs safe from sharp teeth!
In the meantime, I hope you all keep winning out there……