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Niche Business Awards 2021: Winners revealed

Hundreds showed up.

The Niche Business Awards took place less than 12 hours ago, returning to the Athena stage for the first time since 2019.

This year's ceremony, the seventh of its kind, came back with more anticipation than ever after it was held online last year due to coronavirus.

Once again, it was proven how popular the event is each year by the amazing turn out. More than 550 guests attended to celebrate Leicester business as we should.

After such a surreal 18 months, this year's theme was a Mad Hatter's Tea Party. The pandemic left so many of us feeling lost down the rabbit hole and the night was symbolic of emerging from it.

Guests enjoyed the whimsical theme, a three course meal, magic tricks, dance performances, and a live DJ set.

The ceremony

Starting in a very magical way, guests followed the white rabbit as lights were dimmed, colours were flared and the Wonderland-style tune began to play.

Jenny Cross, CEO of Cross Productions, which organised the event, gave a heart warming opening speech. She said: "It feels so good to see everyone come together to celebrate success this evening, face to face!

"This year, we chose the theme Mad Hatter's Tea Party as it's been such a surreal 18 months. At times it's felt like we've been stuck down a rabbit hole.

"I believe in lessons. I spend a lot of time reflecting and looking at what I have learnt when things have not quite gone to plan.

"Sometimes it takes the most abrasive of reminders, the harshest of times to help us recapture that perspective to lift it up and show us what we previously failed to see.

"...There is so much promise for tomorrow. As we begin to look back on these moments, on the lessons we learnt, the hardships we faced, we recognise that we are stronger than we could have ever comprehended.

"We have a community who, as a whole, we always stand strong. When the odds are against us - the first city to have a local lockdown - it's hard to look around and fine a reason, to understand, and comprehend why. If we look hard enough, immersed in the uncertainty, the disruption, and in some cases tragedy, there is usually something to be gained."

Host BBC sports reporter, Ian Stringer kept everyone on their toes by announcing the winners, which was then awarded by the sponsors.

The headline sponsor of this year's ceremony was Fraser Stretton been who have been proud supporters of Niche Magazine since the inception of their business as Narinder Nijjar said: "A fantastic night with a fantastic turn out with such a long wait to physically get back into a room with so many people.

"We thoroughly enjoy being involved with Cross Productions and for us to be the headline sponsors is a culmination of all the hard-work we've undergone as business partners and hope to continue this relationship moving forward."

All ticket sale money was donated to the Charity of the Year winner: Shama Women’s Centre who empower women to become more active, economically, educationally and socially, through a range of activities to develop their confidence, employability skills, health and wellbeing.

The ceremony ended with the announcement of the last winner, Cross Productions' Community Champion, which was awarded to Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan who rarely has a day off from helping those who have experienced domestic abuse and poverty.

Congratulations to all the winners!

The winners:

Best New Business - Sponsored by Hollingsworth Solicitors


Best Family Business - Sponsored by Er Recruitment

Charles Bentley

Business Growth - Sponsored Torr Waterfield

Michael Smith Switchgear

Best Small Business - Sponsored Barratt Smith and Brown

Imperial Roofing Supplies

Best Digital Business - Sponsored Take me

Community Impact - Sponsored by Mr H IT


Rising Star - Sponsored by PPL PRS

Jenna Leigh - JL Mentor

Employer of the Year Sponsored by Growth Partners

Michael Smith Switchgear

Best Customer Service Sponsored by Phil Nassau action coach

Jodi Kate Skillen

Charity of the Year Sponsored by Morningside Pharmaceuticals

Shama Women’s Centre

Entrepreneur of the Year - Sponsored by Kazzoo it

David Hunter - Take Me

Education Excellence - Sponsored by Leicester Castle Business School

The Crucible Project

Professional Services- Sponsored by The Miller Partnership

Ninja HR

Businessman of the Year - Sponsored by BP Legal

Mark Smith - Truinvest

Businesswoman of the Year - Sponsored by Tilton Conway

Nicki Robson - Breedon Consulting

Local Hero Award Sponsored by Fraser Stretton

Darren Bradbury - Darren Bradbury protection Specialist

Community Champion - Sponsored by Cross Productions

Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan - Zinthiya Trust

Nominations for the Niche Business Awards 2022 will open in January.


Written by Levitha Biji

Levitha is a broadcast journalism graduate, currently studying MA International Media and Communication Studies at the University of Nottingham. Having lived in three countries and being fluent in three languages, she's passionate about global journalism. She's recently finished an internship with Niche Magazine and also runs her own blog, Levitha Mariam.


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