Strictly star Anton du Beke regaled the packed Salomons Theatre audience on Thursday with tales of backstage gossip from the hit BBC show, including the time he danced with former Maidstone MP Ann Widdecombe.
Anton, who was brought up in Sevenoaks, said he was ‘delighted’ to be back in the area.
“It’s wonderful that people are doing so well.
“I really enjoy these sorts of evenings and lovely celebrations of local businesses,” he told the sell-out audience at the black-tie gala event.
Joining Anton on stage to present the fourth annual Times Business Awards was Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce CEO and Chair of the judging panel Jo James.
Anton described her as ‘a remarkable woman – remarkable in the fact that she has never watched Strictly Come Dancing’.
More than 200 guests enjoyed a three-course meal before the celebrations began.
They were entertained with a little sleight of hand and card tricks by Sevenoaks magician, Orion.
Guests heard from Gavin Tyler, Managing Partner at Tunbridge Wells law firm Cripps Pemberton Greenish, who for the fourth year were headline sponsors.
He told the audience: “It is fantastic to see so many companies come together and celebrate, and demonstrate just what a vibrant business community we have.”
New developers in Tunbridge Wells, Elysian Residences, who are regenerating the much-maligned ABC Cinema site with a mixed-use project, were hospitality sponsors.
“This evening would not be possible without the businesses who have sponsored the ten categories and other vital elements, such as hospitality and welcome drinks,” said Richard Moore Editorial Director of The Times of Tunbridge Wells and Times of Tonbridge. He also compered the evening.
Anton du Beke took a few good-
humoured pot shots at several members of the audience before the evening began in earnest, with local companies and business individuals picking up the ten coveted awards.
It was second time lucky for tailors Hardman & Hemming, who picked up the award for Creative Business of the Year, having been a runner-up in 2018.
Business Awards’ stalwarts Loch Associates Group won the Best Business 1-25 employees, which comes on the back of their 2017 double win for Outstanding Business of the Year and Best Business Person of the Year.
“Once again, we have been overwhelmed by the number of quality entries that we have received this year, making the job of the judging panel very difficult indeed,” commented Head Judge Jo James.
She continued: “It may have been a challenge, but also it was a pleasure – a pleasure to see how much entrepreneurial activity is happening across West Kent.
As the winners celebrated, and the runners-up toasted their rivals’ success, the crowd were entertained by Olly Murs’ former band, Funk2K, who played a raft of old favourites to which the guests danced the rest of the night away.
Congratulations to our 2019 award winners
Start-up Business of the Year
Award sponsor: Thomson Snell & Passmore
Creative Business of the Year
Hardman & Hemming Bespoke Tailors
Award sponsor: Studio 44
Entrepreneur of the Year
Claire Burroughs – Ansacom
Awards sponsor: Charles Stanley
Young Person of the Year
Sean Rozen – Duke & Hyde
Award sponsor: Castle Cars
Service Excellence Award
Award sponsor: Handelsbanken
Best in Food and Drink
Framptons Café Bar & Kitchen
Award sponsor: Targetfollow
Family Business of the Year
Award sponsor: Childrensalon
Best Business 25+ Employees
CT Travel Group
Award sponsor: John Bullock Design
Best Business 1-25 Employees
Loch Associates Group
Award sponsor: The Perfume Studio
Outstanding Business of the Year
Fox Marketing Services
Award sponsor: Royal Tunbridge Wells Together