Champagne corks popped as the stars of Dorset’s business community stepped into the limelight to accept honours at the prestigious 2013 Dorset Business Awards Gala Dinner, in association with the Daily Echo and Dorset Echo.

Taking place at the Lighthouse, Poole, and hosted by BBC South presenter Laura Trant, more than 500 of the region’s business people, dignitaries, MPs and press attended the dazzling awards ceremony to pay tribute to the successful, entrepreneurial and fast-rising companies from across the region.

Organised by Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Dorset Business Awards have become the largest of its type in the county and the Awards ceremony is a major feature on the county’s annual business calendar.

Peter Scott, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “From a weapons manufacturer to a holiday park and a village shop to a film producer, 10 businesses picked up prizes at the Awards ceremony.

“This year’s Awards had many outstanding entries from across the region, from as far as Ringwood to Bridport and from Portland to Gillingham, and it was great to see such high quality business activity throughout the county.  On behalf of all the Award sponsors, I’d like to extend our congratulations to all of this year’s winners and shortlisted finalists. ”

The winners are as follows:

Apprenticeship Training Award sponsored by Superior


•             Aish Technologies Ltd, Poole

•             Bias Technology Support Limited, Poole

•             Kingston Maurward College (Hospitality Department), Dorchester

Winner: Aish Technologies, Poole

Judge Jim O’Neil from Superior said: “The Aish Apprenticeship programme delivers an outstanding learning experience as well as career progression for its Apprentices.  The business has re-designed its training programme for 2013 by creating a dedicated skills matrix for Apprentices enabling them to train in each area of the shop floor.  Each Apprentice is allocated a mentor, someone they can build a relationship with who can provide support and guidance.

“Aish sees its Apprenticeships as its future and put all the necessary resources in place for apprentices to achieve maximum grades and develop skills accordingly.”

Business Engagement with the Community Award, sponsored by J.P. Morgan


•             Blondz Hair, Weymouth

•             Motcombe Community Shop Ltd, Shaftesbury

•             Winning Smiles (Gillingham) Ltd, Gillingham

Winner: Motcombe Community Shop Ltd, Shaftesbury

Judge Dorcas Williams, vice president communications at J.P. Morgan, said: “Motcombe Community Shop Limited were able to demonstrate a comprehensive and high level of community involvement that had made a real difference in the lives of many people.

“The shop provides a sustainable and practical facility supplying goods and services. The shop has been enormously powerful in bringing people together.  It has become a social hub of the community offering company, support and interaction for all who visit and for some it has become a way of life. Volunteers, customers and shareholders rightly have a great sense of satisfaction and wellbeing from what has been achieved.”

Business Woman of the Year Award, sponsored by Barclays

•             Doris & Daisy (Maria Leese), Wimborne

•             Folk (Jo Cruickshanks), Poole

•             LoveLove Films (Georgina Hurcombe), Bournemouth

Winner: Georgina Hurcombe of LoveLove Films, Bournemouth

Judge Rob Jones from Barclays commented: “Georgina was selected against very strong competition. The support for staff through her links with local universities were commendable as was the personal time spent by her and the team in supporting good causes.  Through the company’s work, they were keen to work on less commercial work to showcase issues in society close to her heart. Business wise, the reputation the company has built up in such a short space of time, winning business from both local and international firms, has been very impressive.

“A truly inspirational lady, demonstrating enthusiasm, focus and entrepreneurial flair in abundance.”

Dorset Tourism Award, co-sponsored by Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Liz Lean PR

•             Highlands End Holiday Park, Bridport

•             The Green House, Bournemouth

•             The Grove, Bournemouth

Winner: Highlands End Holiday Park, Bridport

Lead judge, Sally Windsor said: “This is the perfect example of a business which has constantly adapted to meet changing market demands, without forgetting that the ‘personal touch’ is still vitally important.

“Over the past 40 years, the expectations of holidaymakers have changed considerably, and Highlands End has steadily developed to meet these changes.  For example, it introduced wooden lodges and camping pods this year which has opened up a new customer base for the Park.

“Guests with reduced mobility are well cared for; there is plenty to keep children entertained; and dog-owners even have their own ‘dog walking’ field.

“It’s all a far cry from those days when campers shared a field with the animals – but the third generation of this family are still as passionate about the business as their grandparents were 40 years ago.”

Entrepreneur of the Year Award, sponsored by Bournemouth University

•             Beales Gourmet Ltd (Tony Beales), Poole

•             C4L  (Matt Hawkins), Poole

•             Ratio (Marc Biles), Bournemouth

Winner: Matt Hawkins of C4L, Poole

Judge Mark Painter from Bournemouth University commented: “Matt demonstrated to the judges that his firm has sustained growth and innovation through having a clear vision and technical expertise.

“Considerable time and energy has been devoted to developing an effective senior management team who are responsible for day-to-day operational delivery, enabling Matt to research the latest technological developments and work on the longer-term strategy and innovation.

“Matt’s significant achievements, coupled with his drive, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial instincts, contributed to the judges’ decision to name him as the winner.”

Hays Employee of the Year Award

•             BOFA International Ltd (Shelagh Clyde), Poole

•             Christchurch & East Dorset Partnership (David Hopkins), Christchurch

•             Lewis-Manning Hospice (Maria Tidy), Poole

Winner: Maria Tidy of Lewis-Manning Hospice, Poole

Judge Sam Patterson-Croft at Hays said: “Maria is a determined and positive person even though the environment she works in is extremely challenging.  Maria regards her work for Lewis Manning as an integral part of her, her friends and family’s life, constantly devoting time and energy to projects for the hospice.

“Maria gives far more than she is ever asked and as a consequence has raised the profile of Lewis Manning far higher than the organisation might have expected.”

KPMG & Lester Aldridge Company of the Year Award

•             Atlas Elektronik UK Ltd, Winfrith Newburgh

•             Churchill Retirement Living, Ringwood

•             Health-On-Line, Bournemouth

Winner: Atlas Elektronik UK Ltd (AEUK), Winfrith Newburgh

Grant Esterhuizen, partner at Lester Aldridge and one of the award judges, said: “The judges considered AEUK to be the winning entry because of its impressive transformation on a global scale over a short period of time. The key to its success is down to the business being well structured and highly professional throughout. AEUK demonstrated clear vision and has strong plans for investing into the future; a recipe which will sustain the company and provide growth to the Dorset economy.”

Nuffield Health Excellence in Customer Service Award

•             Nicholas O’Hara Funeral Directors Ltd, Wimborne

•             Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC), Poole

•             The Green House , Bournemouth

Winner: Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC), Poole

Judge David McNair from Nuffield Health Bournemouth says: “It is evident that customer service is everything to PHC.  For the last five years, the Trust Port has held the ISO 9000 family of standards which is related to quality management systems and designed to help organisations ensure they meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders while meeting statutory and regulatory requirements.

“It is therefore essential to PHC that maximum effort is put into maintaining and building relationships with its customers as excellent customer service is the key to its continued success.”

Princecroft Willis Family Business Award

•             DJ Property, Weymouth

•             D Stewart & Son Ltd – “Stewarts”, Christchurch

•             RJ Balson & Son, Bridport

Winner: D Stewart & Son Ltd – “Stewarts”, Christchurch

Judge Nick Love, Head of Family Business at Princecroft Willis, said: “The transformation from a forestry grower to a multi-site garden centre is largely due to Edward Stewart, the father of Martin and Susie, who travelled to America in the 1950’s and wrote to his family saying he had seen the future of horticulture; it was called “Garden Centres”. He began with adapted sheds in Ferndown in 1955 before opening Garden-Lands in Christchurch in 1961, possibly the first out of town retail site.

“Edward Stewart was also instrumental in transforming the British horticultural industry with the introduction of container grown stock in the 1950’s.  Throughout this expansion the family business has maintained and developed its close links with its customers and the local community and has never lost sight of its family values and ethos.

“This really is a success story and a worthy winner.”

Retail Excellence Award, sponsored by the Dolphin Shopping Centre

•             Animal, Poole

•             Fab Frocks of Westbourne

•             The Body Shop, Poole

Winner: Animal, Poole

Lead judge, John Grinnell of the Dolphin Shopping Centre, commented: “By offering outstanding customer service, the store has demonstrated a positive growth in sales year on year. Product knowledge by staff is thorough and this shows that the training procedures in place have been a success.  The Animal marketing and branding is very well known – fabulous window displays and VIP customer evenings and participation with shopping centre events helps to raise the profile of the brand locally.”

The Awards are also backed by the South’s leading radio station Wave 105 and supported by RT who sponsor the Awards website.