Star businesses vie for top awards

BEDFORDSHIRE’S sparkling businesses and individuals will be honoured at the Rising Stars awards on Thursday (November 10).

The 18th annual Rising Stars, organised by Premier Newspapers, will be presented at a glitzy ceremony at Bedford’s Park Inn Hotel.

Here’s a list of the shortlisted companies that will be vying for glory:

Shortlist: Company of the Year, sponsored by Barclays.

> Warnerbus Minibus Solutions Ltd: The company, which makes bespoke alterations to minibuses from its base in Castle Hill Road, Totternhoe, near Dunstable, has been shortlisted in four Rising Stars categories.

> Toybox Day Nursery has nurseries in Biggleswade, Sandy and Stotfold in Bedfordshire. The company employs more than 80 people from the communities it serves.

> Woodfines: With its head office in St Cuthbert’s Street, Bedford, the company offers offering a range of legal advice for businesses and individuals.

> Specsavers Bedford: An international eyecare brand with a local presence in the Harpur Centre, Midland Road, Bedford. There is also a hearing centre at the same address.

Shortlist: Customer Care Excellence, sponsored by Keens Shay Keens

> Houghton Trading Ltd: Has been around for over 25 years and has seven Nisa Local grocery convenience stores serving Luton and Bedfordshire. The company employs more than 100 full and part-time people.

> Warnerbus Minibus Solutions: The company, based in Castle Hill Road, Totternhoe, launched its ‘Driving Quality’ campaign this year. > Woodfines Solicitors: Based in St Cuthbert’s Street, Bedford. Partner Sylvia Goulding said: “As part of our ongoing quest for customer care excellence, we encourage feedback from clients and react promptly to any concerns that may be raised.” She added that the company was thrilled to be shortlisted.

> Specsavers Bedford

Shortlist: SME of the Year, sponsored by Mayfair

> Warnerbus Minibus Solutions: Based in Castle Hill Road, Totternhoe, the bespoke coachbuilding firm was formed in 1993.

> Urban Graphics: An all encompassing graphic design agency. The company, in Castle Lane, Bedford, specialises in communicating regeneration and redevelopment for national and international projects. > > The Mansion House: Country house and parkland venue for weddings, corporate events and celebrations in Old Warden Park, Biggleswade re-launched in September 2010.

> Premier Solicitors: Fast growing full-service law firm based in Lurke Street, Bedford, with offices in Luton, Milton Keynes, Hitchin and Stevenage. Its team of lawyers provide legal services to businesses and individuals in Bedforshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

Apprentice of the Year, sponsored by Bedford College Training Services

> Amber Louise Hartley, a corporate administration assistant at the professional body for salespeople, the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management (ISMM), in Lower Woodside.

> Zak Hussain has been a business administration apprentice with the Wates Construction / Building Schools for the Future National Skills Academy for Construction programme, in Luton, for the past two years.

> Jonathan Farmer at the University of Bedfordshire, in Bedford. After one year of A Levels he decided he wanted to take a different path for his future career, to acquire transferable skills whilst still undertaking qualifications.

> Peter Colebrook at Savage and Sons (Electrical) Ltd, in Pegasus Drive, Stratton Business Park, Biggleswade.

Shortlist: Entrepreneur of the Year Sponsor: Nisa Local

> Mohammed Nadeem, Nadeem Property Services. A self made entrepreneur who started with mangoes embraces life. He is dedicated and driven in everything he does. His portfolio of Luton-based businesses are worth in excess of £5m and his charity work has raised millions for a variety of causes both locally and internationally. He is also dedicated to helping others achieve their dreams.

> Steff Massey, of Dancevybz, turned her passion for dance into a business aimed at local children providing them with opportunities to excel in hip hop dance and also gain confidence as performers.

Six years later the dance academy has grown to 200 students with 12 competing dance crews across Beds, Bucks and Northants, employing eight teaching staff. Despite being diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2010 she has continued to grow and expand the school.

> Jo Wallis of Warnerbus has worked within the motor industry for more than 20 years and was a key member of staff within a large UK Customer Care Centre for a major motor manufacturer. Having previously enjoyed the role of quality manager for the same company, Jo gained a full understanding of the importance of complete customer satisfaction.

Shortlist for BedfordBID award, sponsored by BedfordBID

> We are Bedford: A people-power organisation which grew via social media into a groundswell of support for an arts event to promote the Castle Quay area, We Are Bedford kicked off a revolution of positivity about Bedford.

> Karen Fryc from Little Monkey Murals who, along with neighbouring St Cuthbert’s Street businesses, has organised a series of community events to help promote the area and Castle Quarter. Her next project is a day of activities for Children In Need on Saturday November 19, when Peppa Pig and Fireman Sam will be visiting the shop.

> Hanworth Interiors for investing and expanding in Bedford with their Victorian Arcade shop. Proprietor Rosemarie Jarvis is drawing national attention to Bedford with her unique collection of bespoke furniture and decorative accessories. Regularly featured in Period Living Magazine, Rosemarie has even welcomed TV craft expert Kirstie Allsopp through her doors.

> Goldings Ironmongers for being there in the High Street for more than 125 years and showing that good old fashioned service is what keeps customers coming back to Bedford. Also for setting an example ahead of the Heritage project for the High Street by restoring their shop frontage.

Shortlist: New Business of the Year, sponsored by Premier Newspapers

> The Butcher’s is a family-run butchery, in Lowther Road, Dunstable. The shop opened in October 2010, with the belief in bringing back a proper butchers to the local community and a belief that people’s perceptions of buying and cooking food had changed.

> Emperor Blinds: The company works in and around the Bedford area taking their showroom to their customers. It offers made to measure blinds from top brands offering a free measuring and free fitting service.

Shortlist: Green Business of the Year.

> Pure Planet Recycling Ltd, of Adelaide Square, Bedford, specialises in the collection and secure recycling of redundant electrical equipment, ranging from IT equipment to old fridges and domestic appliances.

The recycling facility allows businesses across 20 counties to recycle items with peace of mind any data and personal information is destroyed in a safe, eco friendly manner.

> Showtrax International, of Station Road, Sharnbrook, says it is the world’s number one supplier of automotive display and pit lane equipment to the motor racing industry. It specialises in all aspects of pit box equipment from race flooring to walling, lighting and gantries.

Showtrax provides equipment to both car and bike teams.

Shortlist: Employee of the Year

> Gary Bilborough is the long-time manager of the Nisa Local store in Toddington.

Gary has been with the company for more than 12 years, and is a well-liked, active and respected member of the Toddington community.

> Lynda Gentle General manager of Mayfair Insurance & Mortgage Consultants in Bedford. She started her career as office junior 14 years ago and now has 25 colleagues reporting to her. She is professional, loyal and truly passionate about her work. The directors and staff said they are so lucky to have her in the team.

> Nicola Adcock: Marketing administrator at Woodfines Solicitors in Bedford. She has been responsible for setting up the marketing function for scratch for all the firm’s offices. Nicola said: “It is a real honour to have been both nominated and then shortlisted for the Employee of the Year award. I have received a great deal of support from the firm.”

> For tickets to attend the event, ring Christine Nunn on 01908 651257.