The Bega Valley Business Forum held the inaugural Business Awards on Saturday 17 June at Club Sapphire. The red carpet was rolled out and over 280 guests frocked up for the black tie event. The auditorium was tastefully decorated in Black, White and Gold with beautiful table decorations, and certificates for finalists adorning the tables. Guests were provide with complimentary drinks before being ushered to their seats as the entertainment for the night, Red Heart Blue, played.
There were 30 tables that filled the room to near capacity with most finalists bringing their staff and friends along to attend. The event kicked off with Master of Ceremonies Brad Blissett from East Coast Radio welcoming everyone followed by a speech from the Chair of the Forum, Nigel Ayling.
Mr Ayling spoke about the process that lead to the event including how they received funding from both the NSW and Australian Government. He went on to explain that they received over 900 nominations from the public for more than 600 businesses. A team of 8 judges evaluated all of the nominations on a number of factors before moving 3 businesses or through to finalists in each of the 14 categories and 3 people through in each of the individual categories.
Voting for the finalists was open to the public again and they received over 1100 votes. The business with the most votes was awarded 3 points, 2nd place received 2 points and 3rd place received 1 point. The 8 judges also voted for each finalist using the same point system and the business or person with the most points overall was the winner. He went on to say that “ As you can see it was a rigorous process to get to this point, so congratulations on make it this far.”
Kirsty McBain, the Federal member for Eden Monaro and Russell Fitzpatrick, Mayor of the Bega Valley both spoke about the importance of businesses to the Bega Valley economy.
With that the entrees were served and the first 6 categories were awarded including
1. Excellence in Innovation and Sustainability which went to Green Queen in Bega and was a very popular choice with the crowd.
2. Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion, was taken out by Tulgeen Disability Service
3. Outstanding Community Organisation was awarded to Sapphire Life Opportunities in Merimbula, for their work with their community pantry and services
4. Excellence in Construction, Trades and Services went to Ardy’s Automotive Services in Pambula
5. Excellence in Retail which was awarded to Darcie Nicol Floral Design who came to the stage full of colour and sparkling exuberance
6. Outstanding Visitor Experience Tourism which went to Tathra Beach Eco Camp, which was accepted by Camp owner, Carmen Risby along with her team.
Following this, a special award for Contribution to Tourism was posthumously awarded to Merimbula Visitor Information Centre Manager, Christopher Nichols. Rhys Treloar from Sapphire Coast Destination Marketing read out a tribute to Chris where he said that “Chris worked tirelessly over 5 years to promote Tourism not just in Merimbula but throughout the Shire.” The award was accepted on behalf of his family by close friend, Jaqcui Smith from Wheelers, who read from an email he sent to her whilst overseas saying how he was going to be “coming back refreshed and full of enthusiasm” although he succumbed to a tragic accident not long after his return and sadly passed away. It was a fitting tribute to the man.
The main courses were served which consisted of Lamb Shanks or Chicken and Prawn filo which was served to 280+ guests, while at the same time, Club Staff were serving 250 meals in the bistro and over 100 meals in Kittys which was a massive achievement by the team.
The remaining business categories were awarded including
7. Excellence in Health, Beauty and Wellness which went to In2skin Cosmetic Clinic
8. Excellence in Professional Services which was awarded to Bermagui Veterinary Clinic
9. Excellence in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing was awarded to Supply Central in Eden
10. Excellence in Hospitality wen to Toast Cafe in Pambula and owners Nicky and Olly were very excited and honoured to be acknowledged.
11. Excellence in Micro Business was awarded to Daisy Hill Photography, which included a phone call in from the business owner Tara who was traveling in Ireland to accept the award.
12. Excellence in Small Business, wen to Coast Hire in Bega
13. Excellence in Large Business was awarded to Support Services 2 You
14. And the Employer of Choice went to East Coast Radio. The award was accepted by Jane Edwards from ECR along with Emma Keft who was also nominated for an individual award, Brad Blissett who was MC and a number of other staff.
Following dessert and another set from the band, the final awards were presented for the individual categories including
15. Outstanding Male Employee which went to Thomas Marshman from Big W in Bega and presented by the Mayor
16. Outstanding Female Employee., Paula Teale from Pambula Dental which was presented by Kristy McBain and Ms Teale was very excited and honoured to receive the award
17. Outstanding Young Business Employee went to Shayd Measures from CBA in Bega and was presented by Ben Smyth from Bega District New
18. And the final award for Outstanding Business Leader went to Damien Foley from Club Sapphire.
The event concluded with Mr Ayling congratulating all the finalists and winner, before thanking all of the committee involved in making it happen including
• Amanda Watkin the event manager
• John Watkin the President of Bega Chamber of Commerce, the Vice Chair of the Forum
• Amelia Bonney from Canopy Dreams representing Tathra Business Chamber
• The President of Cobargo Tourism Business Association – Janet Dolan
• The President of Pambula Business Chamber – Wendy Pursehouse
• The President of Eden Chamber of Commerce – Eric Wolske
• The Vice President of Merimbula Chamber of Commerce -Tammy Carroll
Thanks to Club Sapphire providing a great venue, to Hanna Klobasa for her work in coordinating the event, all of the staff here and of course to Damien Foley for his outstanding Business Leadership.
Of course we need to acknowledge our funding bodies, the Australian and NSW Government for their generous support.
To the Federal Member for Eden Monaro Kristy McBain and the BVSC Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick for being part of tonight celebrations
and FINALLY, thanks to all of our finalists and winners here tonight.”
Below is a selection of photos from the night. You can view all the photos from the night online here.