THE best and brightest of the Wiltshire business community came together over breakfast on Thursday to launch the county’s 23 annual industry awards contest.

The Wiltshire Business Awards recognises excellence and innovation across the board – from the smallest start-ups to the biggest names.

Sponsored by Thrings, M.J. Church, Natwest, BBC Wiltshire, Mainline, The Enterprise Network, RSM, Wiltshire College, C3 Marketing, Corporate Events and Center Parcs, the awards process provides a fantastic environment for firms and individuals to network and develop.

Entrants can put themselves forward for three categories and the breakfast launch gave them a chance to meet the judges and gain an insight into the various categories.

The 2017 awards sees the introduction of a brand new category – the Creative Marketing Awareness Award.

Judging the latest addition to the contest will be C3 Marketing – the Swindon-based firm only entered the Wiltshire Business Awards for the first time last year and walked away as winners of the Small Business category.

Director Sharon Hicks said: “We’ve been in business for 12 years – we didn’t expect to win but we were confident we could do well.

“The awards are a fantastic opportunity – we were impressed with the professionalism of the process, we’ve also benefited from the relationship that we struck up with our judges after the event.

“It has most definitely raised awareness, but what it also did was make us look critically at our own company to see how we could grow and improve.”

Darran Reynolds, head of advertising for Newsquest Wiltshire, said: “C3 Marketing were so taken by the process and what it has done for their business that they have decided to come onboard this year as a sponsor.

He paid tribute to the hard work of all the sponsors and judges, without whom the process would not be possible.

There are nine categories included in this year’s awards - including start-up business, small business, medium-sized enterprise, customer and staff care, services to the community, business person of the year as well as apprenticeships, training and professional development employer of the year.

All entrants will also be considered for the outstanding excellence award, the winner of which will be crowned Business of the Year.

Veteran judge Ramona Derbyshire, from Thrings, said: “Over the years we’ve heard stories of inspiration, hardship and sacrifice from Wiltshire businesses telling us how they got to where they are.

“It’s fascinating - we meet you at the start of the process, we read your applications and then we get to visit your businesses, see the products you’re making and speak to your employees .”

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