TENDRING’S top firms and employees have been celebrated at the district’s Blue Ribbon Business Awards.

It was a magic night from the moment entertainer Michael J Fitch kicked off the event, staged at Clacton’s Princes Theatre, with a top class performance.

More than 300 people packed in for the announcement of the successful nominees in the 14 categories with a record number put forward.

Martin Warnes, from Dovercourt, won the Tradesperson of the Year award.

Dura Composites, of Clacton, were the overall winners, picking up the Judges Award, as well as the award for Innovation in Design and Technology.

Christine Brown, from TC Group, said it was a memorable evening, highlighting the strength and depth of businesses in the district.

She said: “Our judges had a really difficult task in coming up with a shortlist in each category – let along choosing the eventual winners.

“The standard was very high, and we also had more nominations than ever for 2019.”

Mrs Brown thanked the independent judges, George Keiffer, Lynda Chase-Gardener, Andy Scott and MPs Bernard Jenkin and Giles Watling for all their hard work.

Sadie Moore, from Barclays, said the event just gets better and better every year.

“We always try to freshen things up and make a few changes, but we do seem to have a very successful and popular formula,” she said. “We will soon be looking ahead to next year and I would encourage all businesses to keep an eye out for when the nominations open and make sure they do not miss out.”

The event also raised money for the Friends and Neighbours Charity. Mrs Moore said: “Everyone was extremely generous, and this enabled us to hand over a cheque for £3,256 to help FaNs carry on supporting people in the community.”

The Winners:

Tradesperson of the Year – Martin Warnes

Start Up Business – Vintage Tea Room

Sustainability and Environment – Barn Farm Drinks

Business in the Community – Great Bromley Cross Benefit Society

Entrepreneur of the Year – Neil Freight

Customer Excellence – The Princes Theatre

Retailer of the Year – Clacton Art, Craft and Model Centre

Employee of the Year – Dawn Dello

Hospitality and Leisure – The Alma Inn

Employer of the Year – Gary Smith, Market Fields School

Innovation in Design and Technology – Dura Composites

Apprentice of the Year – Hoop Hair Apprentices

Team of the Year – Clacton Pier

Health and Wellbeing – Hawk Farm

Judges Award – Dura Composites