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Island Businesses Celebrated At Isle Of Wight Radio Best In Business Awards

An evening of glitz, glamour and glory unfolded at The Phoenix Centre at Gurnard Pines late last week, with Island businesses receiving a well earned spotlight during the Best of Business Awards — sponsored by Red Squirrel.

The annual Isle of Wight Radio initiative took place on Friday evening (March 22), with more than 40 local enterprises nominated and 15 award-winners.

The event was hosted by IW Radio breakfast show stars — evergreen host Paul Topping and chic co-presenter Emily Wells — who both dressed to impress, with Paul catching more than a few admiring glances courtesy of a fetching velvet number.

Paul and Emily hosted this year's Best In Business Awards

Proceedings got underway with an impromptu game of 'Wheel of Destiny' — a popular segment on Topping in the Morning — which saw £140 go to local charities courtesy of Wight Fibre.

The night's inaugural award saw Artisan named Independent Retailer of the Year, beating off stiff competition from Bayliss and Booth and Isle Love Sweets.

The award was sponsored by D&S Carpets.

Newport's Artisan, which recently celebrated its third year of trading, has made an indelible mark on the High Street in a short space of time.

Artisan received their award from sponsors D&S Carpets

The Employee of the Year category saw Shane Smith from Brightbulb go head-to-head with Christine Faulkner of Community Spirit and Ellie Herman from Seaview Hotel.

It was the Brightbulb behemoth who triumphed, receiving his award from Reuben Loake of sponsors Isle of Wight Jobs after putting in five years of service with the Wootton based design company.

He told Isle of Wight Radio:

“I can’t believe it — I’m absolutely over the moon to have won the Employee of the Year award and been recognised in this way.

"It's been an amazing five years so far with Brightbulb, with many more to come!”

Shane Smith (left) collecting his award

Tradesperson of the Year was another keenly contested category — sponsored by Jewson.

Recognising the Island's leading building company or tradesperson, the award celebrates their excellence across the construction sector.

Timberfix IOW was named winner, with Lockfit and Greenscapes the other contenders for the crown.

Dapper 'Visit Isle of Wight' guru, Simon Clark, presented the Best Attraction of the Year award.

Despite The National Poo Museum and Wroxall's Donkey Sanctuary completing a stellar top-three, it was Sandown's Wildheart Animal Sanctuary which triumphed.

Visit IW's Simon Clark presents the award to the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary

The Family Business of the Year was presented by Wightlink's Kirstie Higgins-Day.

Gossips Cafe in Yarmouth was named winner, with Isle Love Sweets and Richardson Yacht Services the other nominees.

Gossips Cafe receiving the award for Family Business of the Year

The next award was for Top Event of the Year, with Festival of Heroes, Walk the Wight and Brotherhood MMA/Island Fight League in the running.

Walk the Wight, which raises funds for Mountbatten in Newport, was named winner by Raven Print's Scott Raven.

Walk the Wight was named Top Event of the Year

The Isle of Wight Gin Company, Island Roasted and Isle of Wight Ice Cream were named in the Island Produce Company of the Year category.

 Isle of Wight Ice Cream, which is made in Newport using local milk and cream, rose to the top to take the spoils.

They received their award from sponsors Solent Fuels.

Isle of Wight Ice Cream with sponsors Solent Fuels

Up next was the Best Green/Eco Business Award sponsored by Snows and presented by Claire Overvoorde and Vicky Cocker.

The award, which recognises Island businesses that work towards a sustainable and ethical future, was won by Betapak.

The wholesale business supplier saw off competition from Plaza Ice Cream and the Isle of Wight Gin Company.

Betapak won the Green Eco/Eco Business Award

Reno Drain, Men Only IOW and The Better Days Cafe were named nominees for Contribution to the Community

Founded in 2021 and offering a warm place and a safe space, Men Only IOW received the award from sponsors Glanvilles Damant

Melanie Lewis was named Apprentice of the Year having undertaken a Level 5 Operations Departmental Manager Apprenticeship Standard over a
two-year period.

She was commended for overcoming a myriad of challenges and blossoming dramatically over the duration of the course.

Rosie Wye and Seth Rayner were also nominated in the category, which was sponsored by the HTP Apprenticeship College.

Next up was a chance to give the judges a rest and move onto the public vote.

Best Breakfast of the Year nominees were Newport's Town Choice Cafe, Eegons of Cowes and The Salix Beach Cafe in Shanklin.

Town Choice Cafe was named the winner for its delectable all-day fare, with sponsors Wight Fire & Security handing over the award.

Pub of the Year - a category keenly contested between The Old Fort in Seaview, Ryde's The Star Coffee and Ale House and The Waverley in Carisbrooke - was next up.

The public decided that The Waverley was their favourite pub, with the winners ecstatic to have secured the accolade.

The award was sponsored by ICR Systems.

With Paul and Emily cutting such exquisitely coiffured figures on the stage, it was apt the next public vote should be for Best Hairdresser/Salon of the Year, sponsored by the Isle of Wight College.

Elite Hair Design triumphed over fellow nominees IW Sensory Barber and Dani's Beauty Room.

The final public award for Best Customer Service was an incredibly close run thing, with a handful of votes separating the three businesses in contention.

Snacks and Ladders managed to secure the award, with Sleepee Teepees and Occasions & Ventnor Post Office hot on their heels.

The award was presented by Lee Giles of Deltron Lifts.

The evening's final award was for the Overall Best Business of the Year.

Established in 1988 by husband, wife and son team, Richardson Yacht Services was commended for the core values at the heart of everything the company does.

Discussing the event, Isle of Wight Radio Managing Director Claire John said:

"Each year we are seeing the nominations grow which is reflective of the vibrancy and tenacity local businesses on the Island demonstrate.

"The awards once again highlighted how many talented, hard working and entrepreneurial business people we have on our Island.

"Congratulations to all of our winners and everyone who was nominated on the night, and a big thank you to our sponsors."

Charlie Panayi, CEO of head sponsor Red Squirrel (below, centre), said:

"We have been supporters of this event since its inception, driven by our firm belief in celebrating the successes of others.

"With a wealth of exceptional local businesses making remarkable contributions, it's truly gratifying to come together to honour these enterprises and individuals.

"Furthermore, I appreciate the element of public voting in this event, emphasising merit over submission quality alone."

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