A night of celebrations at the Dunstable and Houghton Regis Business and Community Awards

Group photo from the awards night. Photo by Jo Cross Photography
Group photo from the awards night. Photo by Jo Cross Photography

It was a night of celebration at the Dunstable and Houghton Regis Business and Community Awards on Thursday, November 8.

The awards are about recognising and rewarding achievements in Dunstable and Houghton Regis.

Business of the Year. Photo by Jo Cross Photography

Business of the Year. Photo by Jo Cross Photography

The Community Award categories have been specifically designed to celebrate the achievements of local residents and they cover all ages.

There were 19 categories at the awards, Business of the Year, Disability Smart Award, New Business of the Year, Apprentice of the Year, Hospitality Venue of the Year, Community Group of the Year, Employee of the Year, Customer Care Award, Teacher of the Year, Carer of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Good Neighbour of the Year, Trades Person of the Year, Role Model of the Year, Young Hero of the Year, Retailer of the Year and Student of the Year.

Susan Goodchild was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award and Dunstable Gymnastics won the Sports Achievement Award, with Dunstable Town FC coming runners up.

There were two winners for Business of the Year at the awards, the first winner was Balance Fit, the owner has grown her business over the years and has gone from starting in a church hall, to having her own premises. The business is about helping others, raising money for charity and supporting the local community.

Community Group of the Year. Photo by Jo Cross Photography

Community Group of the Year. Photo by Jo Cross Photography

The second winner in the category was Gents Barbering who have gone from barbering to training students, they have now opened a barbers in Watford and plan to open more franchises locally. The business supports charities and give a positive vibe to the town.

Ardley Hill Academy were also celebrating at the awards as two of their teachers were highly commended at the awards, Nicki Betchley was a runner up in the Employee of the Year category and Rowena Baldwin was runner up in the Teacher of the Year category.

Jonathan Smith, headteacher at Ardley Hill Academy said: “In all her roles Nicki has worked above and beyond her job description to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

“She is the person that everyone turns to with any and every problem. Each time she gives the issue 100% of her time and attention.

Apprentice of the Year category. Photo by Jo Cross Photography

Apprentice of the Year category. Photo by Jo Cross Photography

“Parents love her as much as staff do and she knows all of them and their families. None of us know how she does it, it seems an impossible task, but every time she manages to ensure the smooth running of this academy.

“I literally could not do my job without her.”

Rowena took over Early Year’s at the Academy and took it from an Inadequate Ofsted rating to a Good rating.

Mr Smith added: “Two years later and there is a transformation. Results match national levels and in phonics exceed national, staff are enthused and happy and the learning environment is vibrant and encourages learning.

Nicki Betchley and Rowena Baldwin at the awards.

Nicki Betchley and Rowena Baldwin at the awards.

“During this time Rowena has suffered her own personal struggles and loss, but at all times has shown professional dedication and determination of the highest order.”

Each category was individually sponsored by local businesses and organisations.

The winners on the night were:

>> Business of the Year winners Gents Barbering and Balance Fit, runners up were Spicer & Co Chartered Accountants and Big Health & Fitness Ltd

>> Disability Smart Award winner Vanessa Cook and runner up Kids In Action

>> New Business of the Year winner Suitcase Travel, runners up were Three Counties Media and Caddington Grove Care Home

>> Apprentice of the Year winner Justyna Malecka and runner up Katie Atkins

>> Hospitality Venue of the Year winner The Bell in Studham and runner up was Donatellos

>> Community Group of the Year winner The Square Drama Circle

>> Employee of the Year winner Emma Heath and runner up Nicki Betchley

>> Customer Care Award winner More Staff and runner up Disability Resource Centre

>> Teacher of the Year winner Julie Tubby and runners up were Aly O’Neil and Rowena Baldwin

>> Carer of the Year winner Teresa Andrews and runner up Kayleigh Wattingham

>> Volunteer of the Year winner Christian Cunningham and runner up Liz Jones

>> Lifetime Achievement Award winner Susan Goodchild

>> Sports Achievement Award winner Dunstable Gymnastics and runner up Dunstable Town FC

>> Good Neighbour of the Year winner James McCarney and runner up Shelley Whitney

>> Trades Person of the Year winner Hard Surface and runner up DRJ Building Services

>> Role Model of the Year winner Elaine Burgess and runner up Ken Wattingham

>> Young Hero of the Year winner Courtney Powdrill and runner up Shannon Lynch

>> Retailer of the Year winner D I Butchers and runner up Pampered Belle of the Ball

>> Student of the Year winner Christina Wills and runner up Courtney Powdrill