THE cream of the Wiltshire business crop met in Swindon on Thursday night ahead of this year’s prestigious Wiltshire Business Awards.

The event, held at Thrings Solicitors in Drakes Meadow, provided the perfect opportunity for some of the region’s best business brains to meet and mingle before judges begin the difficult task of picking the winners.

Speaking to a crowded room, one of the this year’s judges, Alison Wraight, from Swindon-based firm C3 Marketing, who last year scooped the award for Best Small Business, said: “We are looking for companies that stand out and it’s very exciting to see so many great business ideas.

"There are many unsung heroes who go unnoticed and deserve some credit.”

The 23rd annual awards will see businesses from across Wiltshire seek top honours in nine categories, including Apprenticeship Employer of the Year, Business Person of the Year, Customer & Staff Care, Creative Marketing Awareness, Medium Sized Enterprise of the Year, Services to the Community, and Small Business of the Year.

Anthony Miles, of Swindon-based window firm Miles Window Systems, was very excited to be part of this year’s awards. He said: “It’s a great event and I’m really pleased to be involved this year. Last year I entered for the first time and was a finalist in the Business Person of the Year category, so hopefully I’ll win something.”

The entrants were able to meet the judges and get some idea of what they are looking for in a business.

Homecare agency Bluebird Care, based in the Groundwell Industrial Estate, were also hoping for success.

Care manager Katrina Simms said: “We are quite confident; our confidence comes from the work we do. Providing we get through to the next round, we will try to convince the judges of the value of the job we do.

“Our carers are excellent. If we win anything it will be down to the hard work of all our carers.”

Willum Long, of property firm Madison Oakley, was similarly hopeful for a successful year.

He said: “I’m going for Business Person of the Year, and I’m feeling confident. It’s a really good chance to raise the profile of the business and meet other people.

“There is such a huge amount of strength and depth in the Wiltshire business community and it’s great when everyone comes together like this.”

The awards are organised by the Swindon Advertiser, Gazette & Herald, Wiltshire Times and Wiltshire Business.

The gala finals night will take place at Center Parcs, Longleat, on May 5.