BOSSES at a firm which has made it to the finals of a small business national awards say they are "absolutely delighted."

Stort Valley Gifting from Harlow and Vanlife Conversions Ltd from Colchester were among twelve East of England finalists announced by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) for their Celebrating Small Business Awards 2024.

The Essex firms proved their mettle in a record year of entries.

Stort Valley Gifting emerged as 'Micro Business Winners', while Vanlife Conversions Ltd claimed the 'Service Excellence Award' - a category which drew the highest volume of applications.

Their success underscores the vibrant and persevering spirit of local enterprise, despite the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

Ann Scott, development manager (Essex) at FSB, said: "Congratulations to all 12 of the East of England FSB Celebrating Small Business Award winners.

"They are reflective of the vibrancy, innovation and tenacity that make up our community of 5.5 million small businesses across the UK".

Emma Robson, of Stort Valley Gifting, said: "There are so many incredible small businesses in the East of England so for us to be recognised with the Micro Business award is a true honour.

"We believe that small businesses are at the heart of every community and hope that by winning this award it will allow us to share with others the delights our region has to offer.

"We are so grateful to everyone who has supported us in our journey – without our customers we wouldn’t be where we are today".

Emily Arnold, from Vanlife Conversions, said: "We are absolutely delighted to hear that we have won the East of England Service Excellence Award.

"This award is a resounding testament to our team's dedication and passion.

"They consistently go above and beyond, ensuring our clients’ expectations are not just met, but exceeded.

"To our cherished clients, thank you for entrusting us with your dreams.

"And to the Federation of Small Business, thank you so much for this honour and recognition, it truly means so much."

All finalists will compete at the national UK finals on May 9 at Blackpool's iconic Winter Gardens.