OUTSTANDING employees and innovative companies were given their moment in the spotlight at the Solihull BID Excellence Awards.
The awards, supported by the Solihull Observer, shine a light on the up-and-coming town centre trainees and businesses leading innovation and customer service in a variety of sectors including retail, leisure, professional services, banking, technology and charity.
Winners celebrated in style as they were announced by newsreader Sameena Ali-Khan.
The event was attended by the Mayor of Solihull, Councillor Stuart Davis, and the awards featured a rousing performance from Sing Solihull, the town centre business community choir.
The awards were split into eight categories; Team of the Year, Outstanding Customer Service, Outstanding Innovation and Enterprise, Best Independent, Best Trainee, Best Apprentice, Best Hospitality and Leisure, and Best Fundraising or Community Project.
For the first time, merit awards were also handed out to each of the shortlisted apprentices after judges felt they all deserved recognition.
The Excellence Awards are arranged by Solihull BID, the Business Improvement District for the town centre, and sponsored by IM Properties, Solihull College and University Centre, Touchwood, BNP Paribas, Phoebus Software.
Housing and employment support service Advance Employment, which helps disabled people who want to get into work, took the title of Team of the Year.
Apprentice of the Year was Omar Naeem from Sky Retail, who won over the judges by ‘having the courage to change career ambitions, follow his instincts and having great ambition’.
Achievement of Merit Awards were handed out to shortlisted apprentices Lauran Wright of Six Nine Nine Creative Hair Design, Katie Pell from Xoserve, Beth Pittaway from Kate+Co and Meghan O’Rourke from Kent’s Barbers.
Mad Hatter’s children’s charity won the Best Fundraising or Community Project category, Phoebus Software scooped the Outstanding Innovation and Enterprise award, while the High Street branch of RBS won Outstanding Customer Service.
Property consultancy Projex Building Solutions was named Best Independent and Station Road pub The White Swan won the Leisure and Hospitality category.
The Best Trainee category was shared between Hannah Clarke from John Lewis and Paulina Czapiewska from personal finance company BNP Paribas.
Melanie Palmer, director at Solihull BID, said: “We have 472 businesses within an area of less than two square miles that are bursting at the seams with qualities that make us the best place to do business in the UK.
“These awards continue to prove what a hotbed Solihull town centre is for business stars of the future and showcase our broad variety of sectors and skills.
“From professional services to property and finance to engineering, Solihull town centre has it all and is truly a great place to live, work and visit.”
The Excellence Awards were judged by David Bradnock MBE, HM Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands, Paul Brown, Director, Government and Public Sector, Ernst and Young LLP, Eileen Schofield of employment lawyers Schofield and Associates, John Callaghan, Principal, Solihull College, and Stacey Barnfield, Director, Edwin Ellis Creative Media.
The winners were:
Best Customer Service
RBS, High Street
Highly Commended: Turtle Bay Restaurant
Outstanding Innovation and Enterprise
Phoebus Software API
Projex Building Solutions
Highly Commended: Six Nine Nine Creative Hair Design
Omar Naeem (Sky Retail)
Achievement of Merit: Lauran Wright (Six Nine Nine Creative Hair Design), Katie Pell (Xoserve), Beth Pittaway (Kate+Co), Meghan O’Rourke (Kent’s Barbers)
Best Trainee (Joint Winners)
Hannah Clarke (John Lewis)
Paulina Czapiewska (BNP Paribas)
Highly Commended: Matthew Oakey (Phoebus Software), Melissa Locke (QualitySolicitors Davisons)
Fundraising or Community Project
Mad Hatter’s Children’s Charity
Best Hospitality and Leisure
The White Swan
Highly Commended: Crowne Plaza Solihull