It was a licence to thrill at this year’s Daily Echo–backed Dorset Business Awards as more than 530 guests descended on the Lighthouse in Poole to watch the glittering Awards ceremony, hosted by actress and impressionist Debra Stephenson.

To celebrate the 007th year that the Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry has organised the Awards and the 50th anniversary of James Bond, a character said to be inspired by Ian Flemming’s school days in the Isle of Purbeck, the Awards Gala Dinner impressed guests with a Bond theme.  Bond cocktails, Dorset’s very own bond movie, as well as impressions and Bond songs performed during the evening by Debra Stephenson, entertained the audience before companies from across the region were honoured in 10 award categories.

Peter Scott, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “From a financial institution to a jewellers firm and a hairdresser to a toddlers’ leak proof potty inventor, 10 businesses picked up prizes at the Awards ceremony.  Two firms even walked away with two awards each!

“The Awards evening was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate all that is great about Dorset and recognise the achievements of some of its leading businesses, both large and small, that are doing outstanding work, helping others and giving something back to the community.

“On behalf of all the Award sponsors I’d like to congratulate all the winners and shortlisted entries to this year’s awards process and we look forward to acknowledging more businesses in 2013.”

The winners are as follows:

Apprenticeship Training Award sponsored by Superior


  • Aish Technologies Ltd, Poole
  • Goadsby, Bournemouth
  • Scissors Franchise Company Ltd , Bournemouth

Winner: Scissors Franchise Company Ltd, Bournemouth

Judge Jim O’Neil from Superior says: “The Scissors apprenticeship programme delivers an outstanding learning experience for its apprentices. The judges were unanimous in recognising this programme as of the highest quality.

It was evident that the standard of training provided goes beyond that required for the NVQ programme and the learners acquire both practical and theoretical skills to an extremely high level.  The apprentices are encouraged to enter regional and national competitions which inspire passion and creativity for their trade, motivating them to strive for perfection.  Scissors provides young people with not only excellent training but future career paths that most take up.”

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


  • AFC Bournemouth
  • Darren Northeast PR, Bournemouth
  • Norfolk Royale Hotel, Bournemouth

Winner: Norfolk Royale Hotel, Bournemouth

Judge Dorcas Williams, Vice President Communications at J.P. Morgan says: “The Norfolk Royale Hotel decided upon a charity to support and have successfully fully engaged with its staff and guests to determine how they could best supply support to BCHA. Many ideas put forward have been effectively implemented – the hotel is a worthy winner indeed.”

Business Woman of the Year Award, sponsored by Barclays

  • The Dorset Catering Company, Beaminster – Claire Perry
  • My Carry Potty, Bournemouth – Amanda Jenner
  • Rock Recruitment Specialists Ltd, Bournemouth – Angela Fletcher

Winner: Amanda Jenner, My Carry Potty, Bournemouth

Judge Rob Jones from Barclays says: “The balance of time Amanda has spent between developing her business and giving back to society was truly humbling. Not only does Amanda speak to local educational groups, she lobbies the government over introducing a more structured programme to reduce the use of nappies and personally answers many requests received on potty and toilet training. This should not overshadow her business achievements however given she has developed a product that sells across the globe, taking on the might of well-known established players, virtually single-handedly. She has a clear growth plan for the future helping the business to take advantage of further opportunities it has identified.”

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

  • Beach Weddings, Bournemouth
  • Harbour Hotels, Christchurch
  • Poole Museum Service, Poole

Winner – Harbour Hotels, Christchurch

Lead judge, Sally Windsor says: “The three Harbour Hotels’ properties bring thousands of visitors to Dorset each year, and its targeted marketing and PR activity ensures that the county is featured in some of the UK’s leading press.  Despite, or perhaps because of, its success the group is constantly looking at ways to improve.  The Kings Arms Hotel has recently been refurbished, The Jetty restaurant is continually adding new dishes to its menu, and the Christchurch Harbour Hotel and Spa will see some significant changes next year.  This is a business that doesn’t rest on its laurels, but most significantly, it successfully manages that difficult balancing act of updating its product and service, without alienating its important regular customers.”

Entrepreneur of the Year Award, sponsored by Bournemouth University

  • 3 Sided Cube, Bournemouth – Duncan Cook
  • Active Research Ltd, Poole – Phil Whitehurst
  • Astute Ltd, Bournemouth – Paul Woods

Winner: Paul Woods from Astute Ltd, Bournemouth

Judge Mark Painter from Bournemouth University says: “Paul demonstrated to the judges that his agency has sustained growth in a competitive and demanding global market through a having a clear vision and strong management.

“Considerable time and energy has been devoted to developing a management team who are responsible for day-to-day operational delivery, enabling Paul to work on the longer-term strategy, service development and innovation.

“Paul ensures the business has a value proposition to both clients and staff. This ability to look at all aspects of the business contributed to the judges’ decision to name him as the overall winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award.”

Hays PA of the Year Award

  • Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel – Elaine Dickinson
  • Poole Harbour Commissioners, Poole – Annie Willats
  • Queen Elizabeth’s School, Wimborne Minster – Carly Rose

Winner: Annie Willats from Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC)

Lead judge Sue Hughes, senior manager at Hays in Dorset, says: “For more than two decades, Annie’s interest and enthusiasm towards the success of PHC and its staff has never once tired.

“She describes the harbour as ‘the most stunning place to work’ and the team she works with as ‘family’.

“She’s a trusted confidant and advisor to chief executive Jim Stewart, harbour master Brian Murphy and chairman Richard Lacey, who tell us they would fall apart without her support.  Annie’s professional network coupled with her infectious and warm personality bring together all parties involved in making the harbour a successful business, leisure attraction and a safe and beautiful place for the residents and visitors of Dorset to enjoy.

Annie is a gem, an incredible support to Jim and his team and a worthy winner of this Award.”

KPMG and Lloyds Bank Company of the Year Award

  • J&G Environmental Ltd, Blandford Forum
  • LV=, Bournemouth
  • Organix Brands Ltd, Bournemouth

Winner: LV=, Bournemouth

Judges Harry Mears from KPMG and Steve Clarke from Lloyds Bank say: “The judges considered LV= to be the winning entry because of both its impressive recent track record and its clear contribution to the Dorset economy.  In the last five years, the company has been transformed with turnover growing rapidly to £2.1billion, achieving a pre-tax profit of £99m.

“Despite the pace of change, LV= remains true to its roots and is now the UK’s largest mutual friendly society with a clear customer vision and community focus.  Based in Bournemouth, LV= is a great example of a highly successful business that is also closely aligned to the local community.”

Nuffield Health Excellence in Customer Service Award

  • BCHA, Bournemouth
  • LV=, Bournemouth
  • Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Dorchester

Winner: LV=, Bournemouth

Judge David McNair from Nuffield Health Bournemouth says: “LV= needs to be recognised and commended for the various innovative ideas it has implemented within the business.  Staff appear proud to work for LV= and the company recognises that employee contentment is an essential component to its continuing success to serve customers.

“The staff are a strong unit and the support networks in place ensure working for LV= is an enjoyable experience. This had led to better staff retention, reduced sickness and a willingness to work together through staff forums which ultimately reflect on the professional service it provides to the nation.”

Princecroft Willis Family Business Award

  • Allum & Sidaway Jewellers, Dorchester
  • Nicholas O’Hara Funeral Directors Ltd, Wimborne
  • R J Balson & Son, Bridport

Winner: Allum & Sidaway Jewellers, Dorchester

Judge Nick Love, Head of Family Business at Princecroft Willis, says: “Jason Allum, great grandson of the founder, and his skilled team excel in customer service and are focused on the mission statement ‘to inspire customers and exceed all expectations’.

“While Jason is the managing director he sees himself as custodian of the family business and he continues to look to develop its brand and presence. This year, the firm celebrated its 70th anniversary with the opening of a flagship store in Ringwood and it is through this expansion the business has achieved a level of success its founder could never have dreamt of.

“The family have been tremendously successful in developing the business from a high street shop to five exceptional stores and the business is a worthy winner of the 2012 Princecroft Willis Family Business Award.”

Retail Excellence Award, sponsored by the Dolphin Shopping Centre

  • Allum & Sidaway Jewellers, Dorchester
  • Beales, Poole
  • Doris &  Daisy, Wimborne Minister

Winner: Allum & Sidaway Jewellers, Dorchester

Lead judge, John Grinnell of the Dolphin Shopping Centre, says: “Founded in 1942, Allum & Sidaway has expanded from a high street shop to a five store retailer, and by offering outstanding customer service the firm has demonstrated a positive growth in sales during the last three years.   Through hard work, expansion and an investment in designer jewellery collections and desirable brands, Allum & Sidaway has demonstrated retail excellence.”

The Awards are also backed by the south’s leading radio station Wave 105 and supported by the Dorset Echo, with RT Media sponsoring the Awards website.