TENDRING'S top firms and employees have been celebrated at the district's prestigious 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 this time around.

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

The event is organised by TC Group, Barclays Bank and Tendring Council.

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

“Our judges had a really difficult task in coming up with a shortlist in each category – let along choosing the eventual winners,” she added.

“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.

“Everyone was extremely generous, and this enabled us to hand over a cheque for £3,256.50 to help FaNs carry on supporting people in the community,” added Mrs Moore.

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.