Times Business Awards gala evening hailed as the ‘biggest and best ever’

WINNERS: The awards winners celebrate on stage last Thursday night

THE biggest ever Times Business Awards ceremony saw over 200 attendees pour into the Victorian Science Theatre at Salomons Estate on March 30 to celebrate achievement and ambition.

Shortlisted businesses, charities, entrepreneurs and judges dressed up in their sparkling, black-tie best to network, reconnect and await the outcome of the judges’ deliberations – before the celebrations began.

Addressing the audience after dinner, LBC presenter and political interviewer Nick Ferrari presented his Kent credentials, before fishing for a laugh about having lived in Farningham, near Brands Hatch.

Once he got the laugh, he quipped: “Well, there’s no need to laugh, is there? We can’t all afford Crowborough and Tunbridge Wells. We do our best!”

Turning more serious, he praised the dynamism of the organisations, charities and entrepreneurs gathered for the awards presentations.

“If the politicians, whether they are Rishi Sunak or the Home Secretary or the Leader of the Opposition – if they could tap into the endeavour, the industry, the drive that I met with so many of you today – I mean this – they would learn so much.

“You have already come through the pandemic,” he stressed.

“You are going to come through a cost-of-living crisis, with the determination you show.

“You grow your businesses in the face of some appalling government legislation and taxation.

“You owe yourself a round of applause, because you are the spirit of Britain and the best of British luck to you. I mean it, I am so impressed.”

Preparing for the event had been difficult, Mr Ferrari said. He had asked the organisers: “What do you want me to talk about? These are people who run fantastic businesses.

“They’re growing businesses, they’re hiring people… what the bloody hell is some washed-up, old, fat radio DJ from London going to tell these great people in Kent?”

Co-host, Deborah Richards, founder of Maddisons Residential, welcomed the guests and mentioned all of the finalists.

“You are all winners,” she said. “There was a whisper’s breath between some of the applications.”

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