15 South West companies that have won top awards for business excellence
As the nation celebrates The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, what better time to toast the triumph of the South West firms which have been crowned winners of some terrific titles?
Companies from across the region have been contacting BusinessLive to share the news of their success in being recognised with awards in recent months.
BusinessLive and its sister websites are no stranger to recognising the achievements of businesses in the South West. You can find out more about how to enter the BathLive Business Awards here. Nominations are also open for the GloucestershireLive Business Awards too.
So, from cheesemakers to accountants, here is a selection, in no particular order, of some of the businesses which have been achieving the gold standard in recent weeks.
Butcombe Pubs & Inns (Liberation Group), Bristol
Bristol-based brewery and pub brand Butcombe and its parent company Liberation Group had an evening to remember when it won a clutch of prizes at the annual Publican Awards.
The group, which operates an estate of more than 120 pubs, bars and inns across the South West and Channel Islands, took home a trio of awards as hospitality firms were recognised for outstanding work in the face of the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The firm was named Best Accommodation Operator, Best Premium Food Offer and Best Managed Pub Company (+51 sites) at the event in London, hosted by Top Gear presenter Paddy McGuinness.
Jayson Perfect, group managing director of pubs and inns, at Liberation Group said: “Winning these prestigious accolades is such an honour and pays testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone in the business – from the teams at our pubs, head offices, breweries and distribution centres.
“Hopefully our success will shine a light on this fabulous industry and the incredible career paths we offer, encouraging those with a passion for people and hospitality to give it a try.”
Rumwell Farm Shop, Somerset
The Somerset farm shop scooped nine Taste of the West Awards for its own-made products including seven golds.
The shop, which is based on the A38 between Taunton and Wellington, received an award for each category it entered, with every product made by the team on site, and some featuring its farm produce.
The business won golds for its traditional pork sausage; unsmoked back bacon; homemade faggots; runner bean chutney; spinach mushroom and feta quiche; granary loaf; and jam doughnut. It also took a silver for its new gluten-free doughnut and was commended for its pear and almond tart.
Anne Mitchell, joint owner of the Farm Shop, said: “We’re delighted to have received all these awards and so many golds. These are truly wonderful results – an award for every product we entered, which is amazing!”
The business is celebrating its 25th anniversary in business this year.
Cornwall-based audio and ebook app Xigxag was named one of the most innovative tech companies in the UK in March.
The Gunnislake-headquartered company was announced as a Tech Nation 4.0 Rising Stars winner – the first time a business associated with the publishing industry has won the industry experts’ top accolade for start-ups.
With more than 26,000 downloads since launching, Xigxag offers readers a catalogue that holds more than 95% of the Sunday Times bestseller list.
Kelli Fairbrother, co-founder and chief executive at Xigxag, said the business was proud to represent the “tremendous potential” of Cornwall as an innovation hub within the UK tech ecosystem.
Ms Fairbrother said: “Our aim has always been to make reading easier and more accessible, engaging, and sustainable so that everyone can enjoy more books.
“We are grateful to receive recognition for creating the first-ever listen-and-read concept, the best-ever digital reading app and content platform in the industry – an exciting alternative to big tech.”
The digital advertising agency, which has offices in Exeter and Bristol, was named the best of its size throughout the whole continent at the European Search Awards ceremony in Barcelona in May.
The judges praised Launch for its “team-centric” approach to its work ,as it won the Best Small PPC Agency (under 25 employees) in Europe, and also Best Use of Search in the B2B category, for its work to drive global revenue for an ISO provider based in the UK.
The firm’s founder Jaye Cowle said: “Our mission is to be the happiest agency in the UK. I believe that happy people do great work, regardless of where you work or what you do.
“So, I am absolutely thrilled that the judges recognised this and saw how it is possible to deliver on challenging goals and have a happy work-life balance.”
Beach Retreats, Cornwall
Cornish self-catering specialist Beach Retreats scooped a top title in the international Shortyz awards in recognition of its outstanding social media over the last year.
The Shortyz bring together short-let industry leaders from around the world to shine the spotlight on the sectors success stories. They are decided by a panel of judges and through a public vote.
Designed to inspire guests to enjoy the beauty of Cornwall’s beaches, it was Beach Retreats’ #beachoutofhours campaign that won them the Most Effective Use of Social Media award. The campaign was created in response to the sharp increase in visitors that Cornwall experienced last year.
“It is an honour to receive this recognition for our social media,” said Lowenna Logue, brand manager for Beach Retreats. “These awards are testament to the hard work of the team and are a fantastic start to the season.”
Thatchers Cider, Somerset
The Somerset-based cidermaker scooped four gold medals at this year’s Taste of the West Awards. Among the ciders receiving an accolade was the latest blend to be unveiled at Myrtle Farm – Thatchers Blood Orange.
The company’s special edition brand, The Classics, which is made from classic apple varieties all harvested from just one single orchard in Banwell, Somerset, also picked up a prize. The other two to win were Thatchers’ alcohol-free cider Zero and single variety Katy.
Martin Thatcher, fourth generation of the family to head the business, said: “We absolutely love creating new ciders, whether it’s with a single apple variety, with apples from just one orchard, or with a new flavour. What’s important is that all our ciders are made with a passion for the highest quality, creating ciders that appeal to today’s drinkers.”
Rajastan Royal, South Gloucestershire
The Downend curry house was able to take away a national industry award for a third year thanks to its environmentally-friendly efforts.
Rajastan Royal won Takeaway of the Year in the South West at the annual Asian Curry Awards, which were presented during a ceremony at Grosvenor House in London’s Mayfair, hosted by BBC TV presenter Kate Silverton.
The restaurant reduced single-use plastic by introducing biodegradable carrier bags and offered customers more vegan choices on its menu.
Marketing manager Naseem Talukdar, also founder of charity Plastic Pollution Awareness and Action Projects, said: “We are delighted to receive such recognition and are grateful to everyone who supported us.”
Verinder Powell Associates (VPA), Bristol
The Bristol tax-led accountancy firm which launched on the day the country went into lockdown was named Best New Tax Practice at the Tolley’s Taxation Awards.
Verinder Powell Associates (VPA) received the accolade at an award ceremony at the Hilton Park Lane in London attended by tax professionals from across the UK. The awards are widely recognised as a mark of excellence in the tax sector.
Founded by Rachael Verinder and Carl Powell the 10-strong firm is based in Warmley and works with individuals, start-ups and established businesses.
Ms Verinder said: “We are delighted that our hard work has been recognised by other tax professionals. From a challenging start we have gone from strength to strength, and that’s down to the efforts of our team and the support of our clients and intermediaries. We wouldn’t have achieved this without them!”
The recent Professional Adviser Awards in London brought more success for Gloucestershire-based Attivo.
The independent financial planners, which is headquartered in Cheltenham, was named the Best Financial Advisers to Work For for the third consecutive year. The company’s associate director Ryan Wright was also highly commended in the Rising Star of the Year category at this annual industry event.
The awards, now in their 17th year, recognise the knowledge, skills, and commitment to client care of adviser businesses across the UK.
“We’re delighted to pick up this award for the third year running,” said Stephen Harper, chairman of Attivo. “It confirms our commitment to building the right culture, where our people and teams develop and flourish as they enjoy working with each other and our excellent clients.”
Sharpham Dairy, Devon
The first UK cheesemaker to be certified as a B Corporation (B Corp), 2022 is proving to be a vintage year for Sharpham Dairy and its range of cheeses produced from Jersey Cows and Devon goats.
Located on the Sharpham Estate on the River Dart near Ashprington, the business won five golds and one silver accreditation in the recent Taste of the West Awards. Judges even went as far as comparing its Elmhirst cheese to some famous actors; “Fantastically gooey. Attractive and classy. Think Joanna Lumley and Hugh Grant”.
These accolades followed shortly after the business, run by Greg and Nicky Parsons, was named joint winners of the Sustainability Trophy at the Virtual Cheese Awards.
Mr Parsons said: “It’s been an incredible couple of weeks. To receive these highly acclaimed awards by Taste of the West and Virtual Cheese awards is a real accolade to the hard work the team here has put in, producing the best cheese possible.”
Bridge Health and Wellbeing – Dorset
The physiotherapy business, run by couple Paul and Louise O’Connell, offers chiropractic, sports massage and rehabilitation services, as well as Pilates and yoga, from its space on Bridge Street in Christchurch.
After signing a deal to provide treatment for players with local semi-professional side Weymouth Football Club, Bridge Health and Wellbeing scored another goal when it was named the best family-run health and wellbeing clinic in the UK.
The accolade came at the Global Health & Pharma annual Private Healthcare Awards, which recognise excellence among healthcare providers, products, and professionals across the global industry.
Mr O’Connell, the company’s co-founder and lead physiotherapist, described winning the prize as “mind-blowing.”
He added: “Special thanks must go to our wonderful clients and our families who have been so supportive. Despite all the Covid challenges of the first three years of running our business, we are proud to have realised our dream of creating a dedicated wellness space where clients can get better, build strength and feel happy and healthy in their mind and body.”
Osborne Clarke, Bristol
The law firm was recognised as diversity champion employer at Bristol City Council’s Stepping Up Excellence Awards for 2022. The award was presented at the firm’s Temple Back office by councillor Asher Craig, deputy mayor.
Stepping Up aims to unlock potential and develop talent while ensuring a fair representation of black, Asian, ethnic minority, disabled people and women in positions of leadership. Now in its fourth year, the programme has supported 300 diverse leaders who have graduated or are due to graduate and 170 have secured new roles or set up their own businesses.
Osborne Clarke was acknowledged for playing a vital role in supporting the programme since its inception.
The programme director and architect of Stepping Up, Christine Bamford, said: “Osborne Clarke has supported Stepping Up’s Diversity Leadership programme since the very start, back in 2018. Truly Stepping Up would not have happened without Osborne Clarke’s initial support of venues and mentors.”
Roderick Thomas Estate Agents, Somerset
Roderick Thomas Estate Agents’ Castle Cary branch won the British Property Awards Gold Award for best estate agency customer service in the BA6 – BA10 area for the second year in a row.
Independently judged by a panel of industry experts, The British Property Awards send mystery shoppers to estate agencies, which are scored against a set of criteria. As the winner of the local award, the agency is shortlisted for a number of national awards, to be announced later in the year.
Harry José, branch manager of Roderick Thomas Castle Cary, said: “We’re terrifically proud to have won the prestigious British Property Awards Gold Award for the second year running. Our entire team prides itself on the exceptional level of customer service we offer, and it’s hugely gratifying to receive recognition of our consistently high standards in delivering the very best for each and every client.”
Wentworth Wooden Jigsaw Company, Wiltshire
The Malmesbury-based business was among the South West recipients of the 2022 Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in April.
The company, which was founded in 1994 by Kevin Wentworth Preston and employs 48 staff, makes unique and intricately hand-crafted wooden jigsaw puzzles at its factory in Wiltshire. The puzzles are manufactured using laser technology and are sold in shops, galleries, museums and by charities, as well as directly to customers in the UK, US and Germany.
In 2015, the company prepared a 10-year export growth plan and overseas sales grew by a total of 439% in six years with the proportion of goods exported increasing from 38% to 60%.
The company was recognised with the Queen’s Award for International Trade for its outstanding long-term growth over the last six years.
Sarah Watson, managing director of Wentworth Wooden Jigsaw Company, said: “We are delighted to have won the award, especially in this year of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee! Our puzzles have become increasingly popular and I am so proud of our team here, who have worked relentlessly to keep on creating and making fantastic puzzles which continue to delight our customers worldwide.”
Ocean Adventurers, Somerset
The Cheddar indoor play centre scored a double win at the Bristol, Bath & Somerset Tourism Awards. The business picked up the New Tourism Business Award and the Resilience and Innovation Award for 2022.
Ocean Adventurers indoor play centre opened in 2019 and is the largest indoor play centre in the South West.
Director Laura Filer said “We are absolutely delighted to be winners in two categories. The standard of tourist attractions within the South West is incredible and to be listed among such amazing other businesses is incredible.”
Ms Filer said she was “especially proud” of the Resilience and Innovation Award.
The tourism awards recognise tourism businesses that have excelled in a particular area, demonstrated excellence or succeeded against the odds showing resilience and innovation. The awards involve a rigorous selection process including site visits, interviews and a judging panel of industry experts.
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