Hertfordshire Business Awards 2017: Winners revealed at Knebworth Barns showpiece

24th November 2017

The winners for the Hertfordshire Business Awards 2017 have been revealed tonight – and it’s fair to say they are all proud as punch.

Knebworth Barns provided the glamorous setting for the Archant-run awards, where finalists across 16 different categories demonstrated why the county is renowned for its business excellence.

Guests were treated to a three-course meal and entertainment from vocal group Tenori and Herts-based singer Aimi P before the awards – in association with KPMG – were announced by host and BBC Look East presenter Stewart White.

Taking home the coveted crown of Company of the Year was Borehamwood-based UGO Foods Group, having earlier picked up The Innovation Award.

“It feels fantastic to win,” said company chairman Paul Ugo.

“We were pleasantly surprised to win The Innovation Award and both shocked and delighted to win Company of the Year, which is testament to all the hard work of our team.

“Hopefully this will give us a bigger profile and we’ll be able to recruit better people – which will be good for us and good for Hertfordshire.”

Stevenage-based Driver Require Ltd also scooped two awards – the Medium Business of the Year title and the Business Growth Award.

CEO Kieran Smith said: “We were bowled over to win two. There was some great competition out there and the reaction and emotion from the team when it was announced we’d won was what impressed and surprised me – many were in tears.

“It’s a real privilege to be given this and this is really going to inspire us going forward.”

There was also double delight for the Ware-based New Skills Academy, which was the Small Business of the Year and also saw co-owner Chris Morgan pick up the biggest individual award of the night – Business Person of the Year.

An emotional Chris said afterwards: “It’s been humbling to go through the awards process – from entering, to the judging, to winning. I’ve come from a gambling addiction of six years, so it’s truly humbling to now be in this situation.

“Anyone can do good, but you’ve got to believe in yourself. Seven years ago I was a no hoper, so this is proof to anyone that you can turn your life around and make something of yourself, and create a business that your family and friends can be proud of.”

Family support charity Home-Start had a night to remember too as Home-Start Hertfordshire was crowned the Social Enterprise of the Year and Home-Start Watford & Three Rivers won The Judges’ Award.

“It feels wonderful to win but really we are just the ones collecting the award – this award goes to the 250 home-visiting volunteers that go out every week into the community and support families,” said Home-Start Hertfordshire CEO Lara Norris.

“We are really proud to collect this award on their behalf.”

Emma Power, scheme manager at Home-Start Watford & Three Rivers, added: “We were really shocked to win The Judges’ Award, but it’s a real honour to be acknowledged. As a team we have worked incredible hard and I can’t wait to share this with the rest of our team.”

Charity took centre stage earlier in the night as well, as footballer-turned-manager Martin Ling spoke candidly about his struggles with mental health while introducing the Herts Mind Network – the beneficiary for the evening. Donations on the night including a silent auction raised more than £4,600.

Kings House Management (UK) Ltd in Kings Langley won the hotly-contested Customer Service Award.

Business centre manager Lizzy Chittenden said: “We entered the business awards to create awareness about our business and show how great we really are.

“It feels absolutely amazing to win. It has set a mark – we’ll be going for a lot more awards now and it means the absolute world to us to win.”

Paul Davis of the Paul Davis Fencing Academy in St Albans was crowned Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and said: “I feel we’ve now received that recognition that we are on the right path and our ideas are being accepted in the wider community, not just in the sporting discipline.

“We’re really chuffed to have received this award and we look forward to taking it back to our community classes and celebrating it with everyone. While it’s an individual award, it’s about more than one person who has helped us get this far, so thank you to everyone who has been part of our journey.”

Hemel Hempstead’s Lumina Technologies Ltd was our Commercial Business in the Community winner, with founder Richard McBarnet saying afterwards: “It’s absolutely fantastic to win, and we’re over the moon. To be able to go back and show this to the team is going to make them so proud. It’s a real boost for the business.

“I think the award cements us a local business – we’ve decided to plant our roots in Hertfordshire and we are engaged in the local community, and this gives us that recognition and validation.”

Employer of the Year went to CK Group in Stevenage. Managing director Jonathan Hart-Smith said: “Winning the award this year really mean a lot to us. We’ve put a lot of effort in over the past 26 years to making sure we are perceived and are a great company to work for, and the acknowledgement that we are Employer of the Year for 2017 in Hertfordshire really is a big tick in the box for everything we’ve done to look after our staff.”

Computacenter (UK) Ltd from Hatfield won the Supporting Young People Award, while Letchworth’s Holiday Direction Ltd (Cruise Direction) took the New Business of the Year title.

Large Business of the Year went to Berkhamsted-based Quanta Consultancy Services, and International Business of the Year was Syntiga, situated on the outskirts of Watford.

For more photos from the 21st Hertfordshire Business Awards visit hertsbusinessawards.co.uk. You can also follow us on Twitter @hertsbusiness and like our Facebook page – Hertfordshire Business Awards.

Tonight’s finalists and winners from the 21st Hertfordshire Business Awards, in full, were:

• New Business of the Year – sponsored by CS Recycling

Kandor Cosmetics

Office Fox

The New Bohemian UK

Holiday Direction Limited – WINNER

• Small Business of the Year – sponsored by Alliance Intelligent Scaffolding

Spacechips Ltd

Longcroft Luxury Cat Hotel

ASK Physio

New Skills Academy – WINNER

The Pilates Pod Ltd

• Medium Business of the Year – sponsored by Falkland Press

Streamline Connections Ltd

Ignition Online

Novo UK Recruitment Ltd

JPA Furniture

Driver Require Ltd – WINNER

Understanding Recruitment

• Social Enterprise of the Year – sponsored by Knebworth Estate

Computer Friendly (St Albans)

Home-Start Hertfordshire – WINNER

Cambridge Medtech Solutions Ltd

Home-Start Watford and Three Rivers

The Counselling Foundation

• Commercial Business in the Community – sponsored by JMT

Cambridge Medtech Solutions Ltd

Lumina Technologies Ltd – WINNER

JPA Furniture

• Business Person of the Year – sponsored by DB Sharp & Sons

Lesley Ray, Unico Recruitment

Adam K Ginder, M.K. Ginder & Sons

Abi Purser, Longcroft Luxury Cat Hotel

Chris Morgan, New Skills Academy – WINNER

Lizzy Musto, Kings House Management (UK) Ltd

• Customer Service Award – sponsored by The Car Agents

Kings House Management (UK) Ltd – WINNER

ASK Physio

Peekaboo Studios

DB Sharp and Sons


• Supporting Young People Award – sponsored by Hertfordshire County Council Adoption & Fostering Recruitment Team

Signature Gifts

Device Charger Ltd

Evergood Associates

Computacenter (UK) Ltd – WINNER

HB Accountants

• Young Entrepreneur of the Year – sponsored by Asurit

Paul Davis, Paul Davis Fencing Academy (PDFA) – WINNER

Mark Hammond, Abacus Marquee & Event Hire

Rebecca Sweetman, Inspirational Dance Studios

Neema Morel, Oratus Moretech

• The Innovation Award – sponsored by GovGrant


JPA Furniture

Spacechips Ltd

UGO Foods Group – WINNER

Longcroft Luxury Cat Hotel

• Large Business of the Year – sponsored by Barclays

Evergood Associates

Quanta Consultancy Services – WINNER

Extrastaff Ltd

Eckoh PLC

Masters Pharmaceuticals Limited

• Employer of the Year – sponsored by Blue Arrow


Understanding Recruitment


• International Business of the Year – sponsored by Taylor Walton

Cleveland Scott York

Spacechips Ltd


Syntiga – WINNER

• Business Growth Award – sponsored by Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership

Driver Require – WINNER

DB Sharp and Sons

Quest Joinery

MRK Associates


• The Judges’ Award – sponsored by Archant

Home-Start Watford & Three Rivers

• Company of the Year – sponsored by KPMG

UGO Foods Group