Ballymena is still in business - pride and praise at local Gala Awards evening in town
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Interim Chief Executive Valerie Watts, Mr Rory Watts, Ms Siobhan Mulvenna, Mrs Adrienne Wiggins, Tom Wiggins, Chief Executive Ballymena Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, Mayor Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Mr Stephen Watson, BBC Northern Ireland, Ms. Leigh Heggarty President Ballymena Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Wilma Erskine OBE, Mrs Dorothy Arthur and Mr Stephen Neely.
Ballymena businesses were out in force on Wednesday night at the Gala Awards evening in Tullyglass House Hotel to celebrate the 20th year of The Ballymena Business Excellence Awards.
The awards are organised annually by Ballymena Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the principal sponsor this year was Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. This year over 440 guests attended the glittering event which showcased the range of first class businesses in the Ballymena Area.
The BBC’s Stephen Watson was the compere for the evening and his first duty was to invite Chamber President Leigh Heggarty to speak. Leigh said:
"Tonight, is about celebrating the success of the Ballymena Business Community focusing on the huge contribution made by local businesses and to highlight the commitment made by so many individuals.
"I am a local girl born and bred in Ballymena and I am passionate about helping our businesses develop and grow. As a Chamber we see the awards as an excellent platform to promote Ballymena to the rest of Northern Ireland as a great place to live, work and do business.
"We are extremely proud of the fact that despite the challenges of the economic times we are living in, over 440 representatives from local businesses are here tonight to prove that business in the Ballymena area is healthy and vibrant and that we are one of the centres of entrepreneurial excellence within the Northern Irish business community.
“I would like to thank all our sponsors, especially our principal sponsor Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. Chamber has had an excellent working relationship with the Council in recent years and we look forward to building on that relationship in the future. To our individual category sponsors, many of whom return year on year to support the awards, we really are grateful for your support”.
Leigh went on to thank Barbara and Russell Campbell from Barbara Campbell Training and Consultancy who had the difficult job of organising the judging process. Together with the staff at The Tullyglass House Hotel and Chamber’s backroom team including Gillian McKeown and Festival Productions.
Leigh finished by thanking the Chamber’s Chief Executive Tom Wiggins who organised the Awards process and The Gala evening assisted by his wife Adrienne and the Chamber’s Honorary Secretary Carol Wilson.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, said:
“Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is proud to continue its role as the main event sponsor for what is undoubtedly a highlight in the calendar year locally.
“What always strikes me when I’m out and about in Mid and East Antrim is the passion and pride of our traders and local businesses, and their drive to provide the very best services for their customers.
“We remain committed to working together with the Chamber and our local entrepreneurs to ensure that Ballymena remains a successful place to do business, whilst also providing opportunities and support for future growth and prosperity.
“I was delighted to see Council receive a Special Recognition Award for the team’s unrelenting efforts on behalf of our Borough and the community. Well done to our Chief Executive Valerie Watts and the entire Council team.
“Finally, congratulations to all of the nominees and winners, and to the organisers of the awards, which are fitting recognition of the innovation, commitment and resilience of our brilliant local business community.”
Ballymena Chamber would like to thank Tullyglass House Hotel for their excellent food and first class service. The highlight of the evening of course was the presentation of the awards and the atmosphere was electric.
Elaine and Malcolm McBride from The Ballymena Hospice Support Group accepting a cheque for £15,250 from Tom Wiggins Ballymena Chamber of Commerce CEO and Chamber President Ms Leigh Heggarty.
During the evening Leigh Heggarty, Chamber’s President and Tom Wiggins, Chamber’s Business Development Manager presented a cheque to The NI Hospice and NI Children’s Hospice for £15,250 the proceeds of the Chamber’s 3nd Annual Charity Golf Day.
The cheque was accepted by Elaine and Malcolm McBride on behalf of the Ballymena Hospice Support Group. This means that in the past three years Chamber and its members haveraised over £60,000 for these worthy causes.
Adrienne Wiggins and Chamber’s Chief Executive, Tom Wiggins enjoying the evening
Tom Wiggins, Chamber’s Chief Executive said:
"This year as a Chamber we decided to sponsor and present two new awards. The first award ‘The Special Recognition Award’ was presented to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to acknowledge the tremendous support they have given and continue to give to businesses across the Ballymena Area.
"The second new award, the ‘Services to The Community Award’ was presented to The Community Rescue Service to mark the efforts of all the volunteers who go above and beyond to help find missing and vulnerable people from all communities",
During the evening a raffle was held with the proceeds going to the NI Hospice. Chamber would like to thank the following businesses for donating prizes for the raffle:
• The Rabbit Hotel and Retreat
• The Adair Arms Hotel
• Galgorm Castle Golf Club
• Ben Vista Garden Centre
• Tom and Adrienne Wiggins
The raffle raised a fantastic amount of £3,465 for The NI Hospice and The NI Children’s Hospice.
The evening was rounded off with entertainment from New Light who soon had the guests on their feet dancing the night away.
• BEST COFFEE SHOP AWARD
Mia White of the Ticket Bakehouse, Cullybackey, receives the Best Coffee Shop Award from Tony Convery of category sponsors Clarke.
• BUSINESS GROWTH AWARD
Paul Kirkwood of Bathshack receives the Business Growth Award from Karen McAuley of category sponsors AIB.
• MOST PROMISING NEW BUSINESS AWARD
Sammy and Chris Acheson of UDS Warehousing receive the Most Promising New Business Award from Katrina Andrew of category sponsor Bank of Ireland.
• BEST INNOVATIVE SMALL BUSINESS AWARD
Eileen Russell of Waymaker Child Therapy receives the Best Inovative Small Business Award from Noel Mulholland of category sponsors Michelin.
• HIGHLY COMMENDED AWARD IN CUSTOMER SERVICE
Charlie McConnell (left) and Andrew Dickson (right) of McCarroll McConnell receive a Highly Commended award in Customer Service from Gary Thompson of category sponsors Riada Resourcing.
• CUSTOMER SERVICE AWARD
Sharon and Freddie Gibson of Gibson Paving receive the Customer Service Award from Gary Thompson of category sponsor Riada Resourcing.
• BEST YOUNG PERSON IN BUSINESS AWARD
Catherine Burrell receives the Best Young Person in Business Award from Ryan Walker of category sponsors Fairhill.
• SUSTAINABILITY AWARD
Martin Walsh and Hannah McKee of Cranswick Country Foods receive the Sustainability Award from Mark Wiggins of category sponsors Power NI.
• COMMENDED AWARD FOR SUSTAINABILITY
Sean Nelson of CreevX Ltd receives a highly commended award for Sustainability from Mark Wiggins of category sponsors Power NI.
• BEST USE OF DIGITAL MEDIA AWARD
Claire McKinley (left) of Homes Independent receives the Best Use of Digital Media Award from of Scullion of category sponsors Rapid.
• RIGHT PLACE TO WORK AWARD
Alyson Purvis (left) and Imogen Thomas of NORBEV receive the Right Place to Work Award from Collin Johnston of category sponsors Galgorm.
• HIGHLY COMMENDED RIGHT PLACE TO WORK
Sharon Gallagher of Moy Park receives a Highly Commended certificate in the Right Place to Work award form Colin Johnston of Moy Park.
• FAMILY BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD
Iris Houston and Peter Houston of McKeever Hotels receive the Family Business of the Year award from Neil Gordon (left) of category sponsors Danske Bank.
• HIGHLY COMMENDED BEST BUSINESS PREMISES
Gavin Rafferty and Sinead Bradley of G&S Ultimate Fitness received a Highly Commended award in the Best Business Premises category.
• BEST BUSINESS PREMISES AWARD
Philip Logan of Algram Modern Living receives the Best Business Premises Award from Jessica Allen of category sponsors County Garage.
• SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD
Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council Alderman Geraldine Mulvenna and Chief Executive Valerie Watt with the Special Recognition Award. Included is President of Ballymena Chamber of Commerce Leigh Heggarty and Chief Executive Tom Wiggins.
• INVOLVEMENT IN THE COMMUNITY AWARD
Marie and Stephen Reynolds of the Front Page Bar receive the Involvement in the Community Award from Sarah Andrews of category sponsors Coulter Weir Wealth Management.
• HIGHLY COMMENDED INVOLEMENT IN THE COMMUNITY AWARD
Robert Foster (left) and Andrew Duff of Eurospar, Cullybackey receive the Involvement in the Community Highly Commended Award from Sarah Andrews of category sponsors Coulter Weir Wealth Management.
• SKILLS DEVELOPMENT AWARD
Trevor Hannah and Gareth Millar of Cranswick Country Foods receive the Skills Development Award from North Antrim MP Ian Paisley Jnr, on behalf of category sponsors the Gallagher Trust.
• HIGHLY COMMENDED SKILLS DEVELOPMENT AWARD
Laura Adams of Riada Resourcing receives the Skills Development Highly Commended Award from North Antrim MP Ian Paisley Jnr, on behalf of category sponsors The Gallagher Trust.
• BEST RESTAURANT AWARD
Dan Poloboc and George Sima of Rococo Kells, plus Alison McComb of the Thatch Broughshane who were winners of the Best Restaurant Award received their awards from Chris Weir of category sponsors Moy Park.
• CUSTOMER SERVICE AWARD (Hospitality)
Donna Burgoyne and Gregg Knowles of The Grouse received the Customer Service Award (Hospitality Sector) from Robert O'Neill (left) of category sponsors Calor.
• HIGHLY COMMENDED CUSTOMER SERVICE AWARD
Mary Johnston Waterson of Arthur Cottage receive a Customer Service Highly Commended Award from Robert O'Neill of category sponsors Calor.
• SERVICES TO THE COMMUNITY AWARD
Ross Graham and Sharon Gibson of Community Rescue Services receives the Services to the Community Award from Ballymena Chamber Chief Executive Tom Wiggins and Chamber President Leigh Heggarty.
• CUSTOMER SERVICES AWARD (Retail)
Nicole Caldwell of Fullan's Foodhall Portgleone receives the Customer Services Award (Retail Sector) from Karen Cherry of category sponsors Samuel Cummings & Son.
• HIGHLY COMMENDED BEST TAKE AWAY OUTLET AWARD
Cameron Magee and Andrew Linton of 7 Towers Pizza who won a Highly Commended award in the Best take Away Outlet Award which was sponsored by River Ridge.
• BEST TAKE AWAY OUTLET AWARD
Brendan McKeown (left) and Connor Donnelly (right)l of Bait 'n' Battered Rathkenny received the Best Take Away Outlet Award from Stephen Thompson of category sponsors River Ridge.
• EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR AWARD
Employee of the Year Award winner Zak Smyth receives the Employee of the Year award from John McLeister of category sponsors Wright.
• HIGHLY COMMENDED EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR
Tara Moore who was Highly Commended in the Employee of the Year Award receives her award from John McLeister of category sponsors Wright.
• COMMITMENT TO BALLYMENA AWARD
James Perry MBE DL receives the Commitment to Ballymena Award from Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Alderman Geraldine Forsythe at the Ballymena Chamber of Commerce and Industry annual awards evening in the Tullyglass Hotel.
James Perry MBE DL receives the Commitment to Ballymena Award from Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Alderman Geraldine Forsythe at the Ballymena Chamber of Commerce and Industry annual awards evening in the Tullyglass Hotel. Included are Melanie of Ballymena Business Centre and Ian Paisley.