On Thursday June 7 the key figures of the Dorset business community gathered at St. Giles House, Wimborne St. Giles, to mark the launch of the prestigious Dorset Business Awards 2018.

Along with the Award sponsors and past winners, more than 100 of the region’s most influential and respected business leaders gathered to launch the 24th annual Awards, which celebrate innovation, talent and achievement in businesses across Dorset. The launch event, sponsored by Wessex Internet and hospitality supplied by Beales Gourmet at St. Giles House, gave potential entrants the opportunity to learn key information about the 2018 campaign.

On sponsoring the launch event, Hector Gibson Fleming, managing director at Wessex Internet, commented: “We are hugely proud to be part of The Dorset Business Awards 2018 as a fantastic way of recognising the most innovative businesses in our area. It’s fantastic to be the sponsor for this launch event at St. Giles House, where we have had a longstanding relationship with Shaftesbury Estate to bring the benefit of gigabit fibre to their tenants and the village as a whole.”

With this year’s categories boasting new additions, plus the return of well-established favourites, 2018 looks set to be a year for celebrating the breadth of success, enterprise and diversity of the county’s business community.

Those entering this year’s Awards have the opportunity to showcase themselves and gain recognition for their successes. Companies of all sizes are encouraged to enter, along with budding entrepreneurs, passionate employees and enthusiastic apprentices.

Organised by the Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) in association with the Daily Echo and Dorset Echo, the Awards are also backed by the south’s leading radio station, Wave 105.

The 2018 categories, now open for entry, are as follows:

  1. Business Leader of the Year Award sponsored by Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) – new award category sponsor

Honouring an individual making a significant contribution to the wider business community and the local economy

  1. Creative Impact Award sponsored by Liz Lean PR and Digipigz – new award category title and new co-sponsor

Recognising the talent and contribution of the creative sector in Dorset

  1. Dorset Environmental Business Award sponsored by Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC) and the Dorset Wildlife Trust – new award category and sponsors

Recognising a business with an outstanding commitment to manage its environmental impact

  1. Employee Health and Wellbeing Award sponsored by BWT Physio and Ouch Training Team – new award category and sponsors

Honouring an employer leading in their commitment to the health and wellbeing of their workforce

  1. Exporting Excellence Award sponsored by HSBC and PSP Worldwide Logistics – new award category title and sponsors

Recognising a business which has achieved the most sustainable levels of international growth through exporting

  1. Lester Aldridge Company of the Year Award

Acknowledging all-round business excellence

  1. Outstanding Customer Service Award, sponsored by Beales Gourmet at the Italian Villa and Teachers Building Society – new co-sponsor

Celebrating a business exceeding customer expectations by delivering a world-class experience

  1. PKF Francis Clark Family Business Award

Recognising the success and significant role family businesses play in our local economy

  1. TeamJobs Team of the Year Award

Rewarding the professionalism and hard-working teams in the county

  1. The ScaleUp Award for Business Growth, sponsored by Enhanced – new award category and sponsor

Honouring a business demonstrating spectacular growth with a robust plan for sustainability

  1. Developing Talent Award sponsored by Sunseeker – new award category title

Celebrating a Dorset employer who applies innovation to the retention and development of its people

  1. UK Health Insurance Investing in Dorset Award

Acknowledging Dorset businesses that proactively support other businesses in county for the benefit of the local economy

  1. Young Apprentice Ambassador or the Year sponsored by Superior Seals – new award category and sponsor

Recognising young individuals who are strong advocates of apprenticeships

Stuart Dixon, head of marketing communications at Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “We’re proud to announce that the 2018 Dorset Business Awards are now open for entry. The Awards serve to represent Dorset businesses on a national stage and to attract investment and talent into our great county. It showcases our innovation, leadership and togetherness while inspiring and honouring the people at the heart of our business community. It is an awards programme with purpose and one that Dorset Chamber extremely proud to organise.

“We’re also thrilled to welcome nine new sponsors and four new award categories to the Awards campaign and look forward to receiving a diverse range of entries.”

Westover Group, the official Auto Partner for the awards, showcased the Hyundai i30n and Renault Koleos models.

Mark Whittam, group operations director for marketing from Westover Group, commented: “Westover Group is extremely proud to be the Auto Partner for the 2018 Dorset Business Awards. We brought along the new Hyundai i30n as its picking up so many awards in the hot hatch sector and the stunning all new Renault Koleos SUV, for those who want something a little bigger to move the family around. We are pleased to announce we are currently offering an affinity scheme for all Dorset Chamber members and their immediate family. Depending on your model of choice, you could save thousands off your next brand new Hyundai or Renault. For more information and to book a test drive, just call one of our showrooms in Poole or Salisbury.”

Lord Shaftesbury added: “We were delighted to host the launch of the 2018 Dorset Business Awards at St.Giles House. Over the past seven years we have been restoring this beautiful old Dorset home, to bring it back into use as a venue for a range of different activities such as weddings, concerts and corporate events. During the restoration we have focused a lot of energy on preserving the magic of the building whilst also bringing in our own individual style. We feel lucky to be part of a vibrant business community here in Dorset and all the opportunities that living here brings.”

The Awards are open to everyone; there is no need to be a member of the Dorset Chamber. Entrants will need to complete and submit an entry via www.dorsetbusinessawards.co.uk  by Friday August 3 and judging will take place between late-August to early-September. Finalists will be invited to the prestigious Gala Dinner on Thursday November 1 when the winners will be announced.

The Award Gala Dinner drinks reception sponsor is Caterpillar Marine Power UK Ltd and Brighter Productions has come on board for the fourth year running as production sponsor of the Awards ceremony.

For further information about the Awards or to purchase tickets for the Gala Dinner please visit www.dorsetbusinessawards.co.uk or contact the Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry on  01202 714810. Tickets cost £86 + VAT per person or £800 +VAT for a table of 10 (DCCI members) or cost £96 + VAT per person or £900 +VAT for a table of 10 (non-DCCI members).