Finally, the much-anticipated Niche Business Awards 2020 ceremony, was able to take place last night revealing the winners of the toughest year in business in recent times.
The popular event, which normally takes place on the first Friday in September every year, was pushed back to Friday, January 21, 2021 due to coronavirus.
With nothing usual about this year and last, the occasion took on a brand new format as its organiser Cross Productions made arrangements to take the event online for the first time since its inception in 2014.
For the sixth year of the Niche Business Awards, a live digital Zoom gathering replaced 2020’s ceremony at its usual venue of Athena in the Cultural Quarter.
The virtual event with a 1920s theme, which ironically had to miss the year of 2020, was brimming with golden glitz and glamour, roaring twenties themed jazz music, and old film style countdowns.
In a touching and spine-tingling opening speech, Jenny Cross, CEO of Cross Productions, said: “Tonight we celebrate the diverse and beautiful community we live in. With more than 400 nominations, it’s with great pride our esteemed judging panel and category sponsors have selected the 2020 winners.
“To be nominated in the first place shows belief. You are successful. How you define success is personal and will be different for many of us.
“You are still here and still pushing forward. That grit and determination is what sets you apart from your competition. But remember, you are your own competition. Stay focused, set goals and let’s each take responsibility in driving this city to economic recovery.
“We will rise from this global pandemic and build, reconcile, and recover.”
The live event was carried out with utmost professionalism by Cross Productions and Hybrid AV at the Hybrid AV studio.
Stand-out twenties themed animations were produced by Lead Balloon, and video production company Indigo Blue assisted in the making of a special memorial video.
Sponsors revealed each category winner in Golden Globe announcement panache making the evening that bit more special while viewers watched glammed up from the comfort of their own homes.
Despite host Ian Stringer teasing that the event was pre-recorded to ease a blooper caused by a technical issue at one point, the ceremony was completely live after a pre-recorded message from headline sponsor energy consultancy Assured Energy aired.
As live events typically go, there were of course some entertaining moments including two separate winners donning dinner jackets and ties revealing they were – in true pandemic video call fashion – sat in their shorts, and a cheeky Stringer finding the enjoyment in the anything-could-go-wrong aspect of the digital ceremony.
Guests purchased tickets to join the Zoom broadcast with all ticket sale money donated to the Charity of the Year winner, Bamboozle, a theatre company that provides performances for disabled children.
The ceremony ended with the announcement of the Community Champion award winner Tracey Miller, who sadly passed away late last year. Husband Pete Miller accepted the award with a moving speech on her behalf.
It’s been an awfully tough year in business and an unpredictable year is ahead. But as Stringer said in his closing speech, “the show will go on”.
Best New Business: DLT Roofing
Family Business: Charles Bentley & Son
Business Growth: Pattersons Commercial Law
Best Small Business: Imperial Roofing Supplies
Digital Business of the Year: Unity
Innovation in Business: Willsow Ltd
Rising Star: Claire Herbert - Gateley PLC
Employer of the Year: Furnley House
Best Customer Service: Soar Valley Press
Leicestershire Charity of the Year: Bamboozle
Educational Excellence: Bilingual Day Nursery & Pre-school
Professional Services: Furnley House
Businesswoman of the Year: Andrea Gray - PPL PRS Ltd
Businessman of the Year: Simon Winfield – Red Monkey Play
Community Champion: Tracey Miller