Countdown to gala night

ENTRIES to the Times Business Awards have now closed, and it is time for the judging to begin.

The shortlist will be announced on March 15, giving 30 finalists time to make plans for the gala dinner on March 30.

Someone else who is making preparations for the evening is Deborah Richards, founder of Maddisons Residential, who will be on stage with celebrity host Nick Ferrari to help announce the winners.

Having won Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016, Deborah is no stranger to the Awards, which she says are part of the ‘community’ culture of Tunbridge Wells.

“I think Tunbridge Wells is a very special location. It has to compete with the capital but it does it very well,” she told the Times.

“I moved here 21 years ago, and I’m just passionate about it. It comes in for some criticism, but it is quite special. It has beautiful architecture and really good amenities.


“It has a lovely sense of community. People want to support each other.”


The Times Business Awards are part of that, she said.

“It’s a really great night. With some events, the thought might be, ‘do I really have to go?’ This is not like that at all. It’s such a celebration.

“You know so many people in the room.

“I will probably know 90 per cent of the people there by name. That is what gives it its lovely party atmosphere. People are celebrating the people and companies that they know well.”

Deborah’s own experience of winning an award came not long after she set up her estate agency in the mid-2010s.

“When I won at the first Awards I entered in 2016, I had such impostor syndrome. I was up against some amazing entrepreneurs in the town. I couldn’t quite believe I had won it.”

Although heavily pregnant at the time, Deborah overcame her reluctance to go out for an evening and made the most of it.

“When I was up for my own award, I took a table. It was a great way to treat my staff and some contacts.”

This year she will be onstage, helping to present the awards alongside the celebrity host.

“I was supposed to host in 2020 with Eamonn Holmes, but that was delayed because of Covid.”

That event did not take place until March 2022, and now Deborah is getting ready for this year’s event with a new host and a new list of finalists.

“I was excited even before it was delayed. It’s such really nice thing to look forward to,” she said.

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