Friday evening saw the Umami team scrubbing up for an evening of glitz and glamour at the Monmouthshire Business Awards finals. Plenty of our friends and clients were finalists, and we were finalists ourselves in the category of Excellence in Marketing, against two of the biggest local Monmouthshire companies, Mabey Bridge and Hicks Logistics. No pressure.
We entered St Pierre to a reception of sparkling wine and canapés, always a nice way to start an evening, and plenty of fantastic local businesspeople to mingle with and chat to. We were then ushered into the dining room, decked out in red, white and green with gorgeous table centrepieces by Sophie’s Bows, who we happened to be on a table with.
Then came the introductory speeches. First up was our host for the evening, Hwyel James (apparently he was on ITV? None of us knew who he was!). After that Janet Harris, the brains behind Monmouthshire Business Awards and finally Bob Greenland, deputy leader of Monmouthshire County Council, who made some exciting promises regarding broadband in Monmouthshire which we are definitely going to quote him on in future! We have a lot of broadband woes as a rurally-based business so the news that good broadband will be coming to the county was great news for us! Then it was time for the starters to be served (just as well as we were starting to get hungry!) – smoked Salmon for most, with a slightly disappointing bowl full of rocket for the veggies (i.e. me).
After starters were cleared away it was time for the first round of winners to be announced – cue the slightly embarrassing interview videos and lots of butterflies! The first category to be announced was ‘Most Promising Business Start-Up’, with finalists Kate’s Country School, Sophie’s Creative Bows and Shampooch. Of course we had to show some table solidarity by cheering the loudest for Sophie’s Bows – who won! Woohoo!
Next up was Best Food Tourism Business, with Ancre Hill Vineyard, Wild Food 365, Parva Farm Vineyard and Red Door Deli. Firstly some more table solidarity for Ancre Hill Vineyard who we gave a big cheer to, and secondly who knew there were so many fantastic vineyards in Monmouthshire? I’d heard of Parva Farm and Ancre Hill before the event, but apparently there are 6 great vineyards and wine producers in the county! Parva Farm won this category.
The third announcement was for Best Diversity in Farming, with Hidden Valley Yurts, Kate’s Country School and Green Waste Company competing for the title. Green Waste won this category, to another round of cheers from our table. 2 winners already! We were obviously a lucky table.
The next round was Fabulous Fish, Chantler Teas and Munday Jones competing for the title of Excellence in Retailing. We were rooting for the fab Chantler Teas, who took the well-earned prize, as they are a client of ours – hopefully unveiling their lovely new branding and packaging soon!
Now our hearts were in our throats – we had come to Excellence in Marketing, our own shortlisted category. Hicks Logistics and Mabey Bridge had their videos played before it was time for Michelle to cringe at hers – does anyone enjoy watching themselves back on video (it looked great by the way – well done to Visual Impact Productions who did all the filming and editing). However, it obviously wasn’t our night and the prize went to Hick’s Logistics – well done that table!
Although we were disappointed, at least the nerves were now over and we had the entire evening left to enjoy – right in time for the main course. Beef, tasty looking veg and lots of gravy, with some stir-fry veg and rice for the veggies (again a little disappointing – I was priming myself for the pudding by now). A few more glasses of wine and conversations later, it was time to find out some more winners.
This round of categories kicked of with Innovation in Business, finalists were Bitesize Enterprise, Hicks Logistics (the second of their five nominations!) and Spectrum Internet. Spectrum Internet won the category, and will hopefully help bring lovely fast internet solutions to Monmouthshire!
Next up was Best Social Enterprise, with Chepstow Walkers are Welcome, Made in Monmouthshire and Vintage Vision competing for the title. Chepstow Walkers took home this prize, though in all fairness each of these causes are absolutely fantastic ideas and well worth support.
Thirdly Hicks Logistics, Penpergwm House and Marriot St Pierre competed for Training & Excellence in People Development. St Pierre took home this prize – and we couldn’t be happier for them as we have close ties due the 4Networking meeting Michelle organises there on a regular basis.
The next category was Young Entrepreneur, with just two finalists being Sophie’s Creative Bows and Shampooch. Shampooch beat down the competition on this category, despite Sophie’s Bows beating them to the earlier ‘Most Promising Start-Up’ prize.
Company Demonstrating Sustained Growth was next, with finalists Net Support UK, Hicks Logistics and Reid Lifting. Hicks Logistics took home this prize despite the stiff competition – their second win of the evening.
Finally for this round was Excellence in Environmental & Sustainability, with Abergavenny Food Festival, Mabey Bridge and Northern Automotive Systems competing. The brilliant local event Abergavenny Food Festival won this – it is a particular favourite of our foodie team so we are chuffed for them!
We then had a break for dessert before the big guns were announced. Pear Crumble and Honey Creme Anglaise (and a few more glasses of wine…). Delicious. There was a nice long break for this course, giving us plenty of time to congratulate the winners, commiserate with the losers and just generally have a chat with everyone. Feeling a lot fuller, we sat down for the final announcements.
Firstly was the prestigious Company of the Year award – with finalists Chepstow Racecourse, Hicks Logistics, Reid Lifting and Wynndel Property. Reid Lifting won the big prize of the evening – well done them!
Next was Judges Choice, which any finalist of the evening could win, regardless of whether they won in their own category or not. Wynndel Property, the company behind the Severn Quay development in Chepstow, took the Judge’s Choice award.
There was then chance to wind down with everyone, put a few songs on the jukebox and have a few final drinks before everyone started drifting off home. It was a great night, and here is to better luck for us next year!
Article by Victoria, who forget to mention the lovely MBA coasters now gracing our office!