Sell-out gala celebrates best in business

LEADING LIGHT Abi Todd was named Kent League Player of the Year

This newspaper was launched two years ago with very specific objectives. To reflect fairly and accurately the lifestyle and values of the communities we serve and to encourage and support the growth of local businesses.

We believe we have achieved those aims, although we will always strive to do even better.

Today we are the biggest local newspaper with more than 20,000 copies being printed each week plus 7,000 online readers and on Thursday night (May 18) we once again underlined our commitment to the community when we recognised excellence in business with the Times Business Awards 2017.

And what a night of celebration the second of our award ceremonies  turned out to be.

A sell-out audience of more than 200 went along to Salomons to see the eventual winners announced from ten categories.

Each took to the stage at the black tie event to be handed their trophy by one of the most popular broadcasters in the country – BBC Radio Two’s Ken Bruce, who attracts a weekly audience of more than eight million.

Speaking on behalf of the headline sponsor, Tunbridge Wells-based law firm Cripps, Managing Partner Gavin Tyler said:  “We have again seen some fantastic companies in our business community being recognised and rewarded for their efforts and contribution, not only in a local capacity but in terms of the broader Kent economy.

“As sponsors of the awards for the second year running, Cripps is proud to support these dynamic and ambitious enterprises and we wish them continued success as they develop and expand.”

The other major sponsor was West Kent Partnership. Its Chairman Nicolas Heslop who is also Leader of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council said: “Congratulations to those finalists here, who represent the energy and vitality that is driving the West Kent economy.”

Jo James, CEO of the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the panel of judges said: “With all awards, somebody has to win, but to be selected as a finalist is in itself a great achievement.”

Hundreds took to social media to talk about the night. Typical was a tweet from The Hop Shop: “Thank you for a lovely evening – so thrilled to win Family Business of the Year! What an honour!”

Our thanks to all of you who supported the night through sponsorship or by entering for an award. To us you are all winners.


Second year of success for
the Times Business Awards

Gala celebrated the best of local business and enterprise


COMPANIES from across West Kent gathered at Salomons Estate last week to celebrate the second Times Business Awards, an event that has become a key fixture for the local business community.

More than 220 people from 42 companies gathered at the gala, where they enjoyed a champagne reception followed by an entertaining, joke-filled speech from top BBC Radio 2 DJ Ken Bruce.

Nominees and sponsors conversed over a three-course dinner prior to the awards ceremony itself being kicked off with an introduction by the host for the evening, Richard Moore, Editorial Director of Times Local Newspapers.

This was followed by two short speeches from the headline sponsors, the West Kent Partnership and Tunbridge Wells law firm Cripps.

Representing the West Kent Partnership was its Chairman Nicolas Heslop, who is also Leader of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council.

He spoke of the work the agency was doing to help support enterprise in the region, adding:
“I am delighted this year these prestigious awards have been extended to the whole of West Kent.

“It gives these firms a way to showcase their success, and congratulations to those finalists here who represent the energy and vitality that is driving the West Kent economy.”

Speaking on behalf of Cripps, Managing Partner Gavin Tyler said his company had chosen to support the event for the past two years because the town ‘is a vibrant and eclectic community’ that is expressed in ‘the diversity of its businesses’.

“You only have to look around here tonight to see the vibrant, energetic and young, youthful companies in this town, and it really does bode well for the future,” he said, before giving his own congratulations to the companies shortlisted and wishing them luck.

“Whatever happens tonight, you are here because you are successful,” he said.

Ken Bruce regaled those present with amusing stories from his four decades on the airwaves. His morning show attracts more than eight million listeners a week.

He also spoke of his fondness for Tunbridge Wells, but indulged in some lighthearted elitism by comparing the town to where he lives, Henley-on-Thames, stating: “It’s lovely to be here in Tunbridge Wells and I know you get a lot of jokes about being terribly posh here, but frankly I come from Oxfordshire.

“Now Henley-on-Thames is really posh. Colonel Sanders opened a shop there called Kentucky Fried Pheasant.”

He also showed his appreciation for the efforts of small business owners, and spoke of his own foray into the world of enterprise through his heritage bus company, quipping that the way to end up with £1million from running buses ‘was to start with £2million’.

He was followed by Jo James, CEO of the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the awards panel of judges.

She told the audience: “It was not an easy task, not when faced with so many excellent companies.

“With all awards, somebody has to win, but to be selected as a finalist is in itself a great achievement.”

The evening was rounded off in celebratory style with the help of band Violet Jive.


Outstanding Business of the Year

Name of winning business:
Loch Associates Group


Company description: Having set up in 2007, Loch Associates Group offer a range of employment and HR- related services, ranging from expert legal advice from award-winning Loch Employment Law to outsourced HR support from HR Advise Me. They also help businesses with wellbeing and first aid training at work from Loch Health, and solving disputes and conflicts via Loch Mediation.

“Loch Associates Group is delighted to have been awarded the prestigious Outstanding Business of the Year Award at the Times Business Awards 2017. We pride ourselves on being an innovative, evolving business, and what makes our business exceptional is our unique combination of employment law, HR, wellbeing and mediation expertise, ensuring our clients have all the human resource services they need under one roof. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped us achieve this incredible result.” Pam Loch

Sponsored By: Handelsbanken



Creative Business of the Year

Name of winning business:
Page & Page


Company description: Established in 2013, and moving to Tunbridge Wells in May of 2016, Page & Page
are an award-winning creative communications agency who specialise in health and wellness. They work with clients to change beliefs and behaviours amongst patients and healthcare professionals to ultimately
improve health outcomes.

Sponsor: John Bullock Design



Best Independent Restaurant

Name of winning business: Framptons


Company description: Based in The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells, Framptons believe in offering quality food and drink throughout the day. Their dishes are made with fresh seasonal produce sourced locally, all within an 18 miles radius. They aim to
provide a personal service to all
their customers, which has seen
them coming back time again.

Sponsor: Fuller’s Butchers
and Farm Shop


New Business of the Year

Name of winning business:
The Right Tuition Company


Company description: Set up in April 2014, The Right Tuition Company provides 11-plus preparation and academic tuition to children of all ages in Maths, English, Science and Modern Languages across three academic tuition centres in Tunbridge Wells, Rochester and Sevenoaks.

Sponsor: Distinct Business Insurance


Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Name of winner:
Joe de Kwant Stoner

Company description: Big Orange Media Ltd. Founded by Joe de Kwant Stoner in May 2016, Big Orange Media are an independent full service creative agency based in West Kent. Their services include media planning and design, SEO and full social media management.

Sponsored By: Russell Fewins Commercial Facilities Solutions


Best Tech Business

Name of winning business: Infinity Technology Solutions

Company description: Established for over 15 years and employing 40 specialists, Infinity Technology Solutions provide a fully integrated IT support service, Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation and a wide range of business telecom solutions to both national and local clients.

Sponsored By: Gemini Print


Service Excellence Award

Name of winning business:
Thomas Mansfield Solicitors


Company description: Set up in 2004, Thomas Mansfield Solicitors are specialists in Employment Law and have recently diversified into Family Law, being a natural extension to their current portfolio.


Sponsored By: Pantiles Chambers


Best Small Business (up to £2m turnover)

Name of winning business: Castle Cars


Company description: Set up in January 1995, Castle Cars provide both taxi and chauffeur-driven vehicles, priding themselves on their excellent customer service. The company is extremely active in the local community, with activities ranging from sponsorship and charity participation through to working with the council to improve safety.

Sponsored By: Childrensalon


Family Business of the Year

Name of winning business: The Hop Shop

Company description: The family farm started in the valley over 100 years ago, with the Hop Shop being developed in 1985. The Hop Shop is a very individual farm shop, not only open to the public throughout the year but with a significant online mail order presence supplying to both trade and wholesale customers. The shop has enabled the family to maximise value for their existing farm produce.

Sponsored by: Thomson Snell & Passmore


Business Person of the Year

Name of winner: Pam Loch, Managing Director of Loch Associates Group.

Description: Pam’s strong leadership skills have been instrumental to the success of the company. She recognises and builds on the strengths of others to enable the company to reach its objectives. Pam has built a strong organisational culture of providing elevated levels of customer service and support for both external customers and internal staff.

Sponsored By: RSM

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter