The Inspiring Hertfordshire Awards 2019 showcase and celebrate the best in the County

On Thursday 13th June, the Inspiring Hertfordshire Awards 2019 ceremony and gala dinner took place at the magnificent St Albans Cathedral. With over 300 attendees, the room was filled with excitement as all of the finalists, judges and sponsors gathered to find out who would be crowned the winner of not only each of the 19 categories, but also the three Special Recognition Awards; Outstanding Contribution to Business, Outstanding Contribution to Charity, and the overall Inspiring Business of the Year.

With a Highly Commended award having been introduced for each category, there was even more to be celebrated this year. Since its launch in 2012, the Inspiring Hertfordshire Awards have focussed on and celebrated the expertise, achievements and outstanding contribution that businesses and individuals continually make to the growth of the County, and the evening most definitely achieved that.

During the evening, a silent auction took place by Good2Auction, raising a significant sum for the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce charity fund; this years’ Chamber Charities are Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust and Hertfordshire Community Foundation.

During the evening, delegates heard from the new Chairman of Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, Jeremy Bishop, and the new CEO, Briege Leahy; the 2018 winner of the Inspiring Business of the Year, Isabel Hospice’s CEO Robin Webb, and Headline Sponsor Hillier Hopkins’ Neil Cundale; who said:

“The Inspiring Hertfordshire awards ceremony gave a fantastic opportunity to shine a well-deserved spotlight on some of the best achievements from around the county. The event was amazing and highlighted just how many incredible businesses and people there are in the Hertfordshire business community. Well done to all the winners!”

The overall winner of the evening, 2019’s Inspiring Business of the Year, Ruby Raut, WUKA, told us what winning this accolade meant for her:

“WUKA (Wake Up Kick Ass) started with a mission to create the world’s most comfortable period underwear and reduce the millions of menstrual products from going to landfill while being a brand that breaks the taboo of talking about periods.

We started WUKA from our living room just a year and half ago and so far we have stopped more than 2.3 million tampons and pads from going to landfill, we have grown fast and moved to a warehouse with a small team of 5 and are in stores from Scotland to New Zealand.

I feel honoured to be awarded not only the Entrepreneur of the year but also the Inspiring Business of the Year Award by Herts Chamber of Commerce. This recognition of our values focused on the environment and women’s health, we hope goes toward inspiring other people to pursue their dreams and break barriers.

In the words of one customer “we have not created a product, but a movement”, so this award is shared with all of our customers without whose support we would not be where we are.”

Alongside the 19 categories, this year saw a new award introduced, which due to its unique nature, was sponsored by the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce. This very special recognition award was given to Claire Austin, MD, Austin’s Family Funeral Directors for her Outstanding Contribution to Charity.

Claire provided a few words:

“On Thursday evening, I had the great pleasure of attending the Inspiring Hertfordshire Awards held at St Albans Cathedral. Austin’s Funeral Service has been involved as a sponsor and a judge for these awards for several years.

This particular evening, however, I had not anticipated being the recipient of an award. It was a great surprise and privilege to receive the Chamber’s award for Outstanding Contribution to Charity and to be presented with this accolade by the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Robert Voss CBE. I have undertaken a number of challenges to raise funds for local causes, including running the London Marathon, building a dam in Vietnam, a skydive and having my head shaved. In my role as Managing Director of Austin’s Funeral Service and Harwood Park Crematorium, I have become fully aware of the needs of our local community.

My endeavours have provided funds to assist many local charities and I have found many of these activities personally rewarding. To be recognised, in this way, by the Hertfordshire Chamber is a great honour.”

Suzanne Westlake, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Corporate Affairs, who was awarded the special accolade of Outstanding Contribution to Business, told us:

“I was shocked, delighted and humbled to receive the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Business’ award last night. It’s a wonderful accolade for years of hard work, but no less of a surprise! It was a fabulous evening recognising the best of Hertfordshire and this really was the icing on the cake!”

Thanks go out to IHA’s Headline Sponsor for the third year running; Hillier Hopkins, and all of the Category Sponsors; Ashbourne Insurance, Austin’s Funeral Directors, Barclays Bank, Borough of Broxbourne, CS Recycling, Hertfordshire Building Control, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Kingston Smith, London Luton Airport, Longmores Solicitors, Porsche Centre Hatfield, Rothamsted Enterprises, SA Law, ServerChoice, Sonovision, Stevenage Borough Council, Tate Apprenticeships, Trinity Wealth Management, University of Hertfordshire and VolkerWessels UK.

Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce would also like to thank their 2019 Associate Sponsors; Pearldrop Video Production for photographs and videography; Wine2Trade for providing each winner with a bottle of bubbly; Hashtag Digital Media for assisting in all media coverage; Aubrey Park Hotel for the drink’s reception on the evening; and Gascoyne Estates for their support.

These awards could not have taken place without the support from all of our Sponsors and Patrons, and of course all of the fantastic companies who took the time out of their busy lives to enter.

Congratulations to our 2019 Winners and Highly Commended cpanies, another truly inspiring year!

Our Ambassadors