BUSINESSES were out in force at the Gala evening in Tullyglass House Hotel to celebrate the 17th Ballymena Business Excellence Awards.
The awards are organised by Ballymena Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the principal sponsor this year was Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
Liam Beckett was the compere for the evening and his first duty was to invite Chamber President Robin Cherry MBE to speak.
Mr Cherry said: “On behalf of Ballymena Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all here tonight to celebrate our 17th Ballymena Business Excellence Awards.
“This is a particularly important year for Chamber as we are celebrating our Centenary and tonight’s event forms an important part of our celebrations.
“The fact that there are over 450 people present here this evening clearly illustrates the high esteem in which the local business community hold both the Chamber and the Business Awards.
“Tonight is about celebrating both Chamber’s Centenary and the success of the Ballymena business community, focusing on the huge contribution made by local businesses and to highlight the commitment made by individuals.
“As a Chamber we see this as an important opportunity to promote Ballymena to the rest of Northern Ireland as a great place to live, work and do business.
“I would like to thank all our sponsors, especially our principal sponsor Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. Chamber has had an excellent working relationship with the Council in recent years and we look forward to building on that relationship in the future.
“To our individual category sponsors, many of whom return year on year to support the awards, we really are grateful for your support.”
Robin went on to thank Tom Wiggins, Paula Kane, Insight Mystery Shopping and Chris Wales for all their efforts in organising the event.
He also reflected on his memories of the many businesses who have made Ballymena a centre of industry and commerce across the years.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Maureen Morrow, said: “Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is delighted and proud to be the principal sponsor of the hugely prestigious Ballymena Business Excellence Awards.
“Ballymena Chamber of Commerce and Industry has consistently demonstrated its dedication to a flourishing local economy and has been behind these awards for many years now, which contribute positively to overall economic development in the area.
“These awards celebrate the talent, entrepreneurship and ambition of our local business leaders and we are proactively seeking to build on our strengths in advanced manufacturing, retail and agri-food, while supporting the growth of new industry sectors, including digital, tourism, financial and business services.
“We are proud to continue supporting these awards recognising the achievements of our local businesses and business people in helping us build a stronger economy for the benefit of all our citizens.”
A Chamber spokesperson said: “The Chamber would like to thank Tullyglass House Hotel for their excellent food and first class service.
“The highlight of the evening of course was the presentation of the awards and the atmosphere was electric. The evening was rounded off with entertainment by Anthem who soon had the guests on their feet dancing the night away.
“During the evening a raffle was held with the proceeds going to the NI Hospice. Chamber would like to thank the following businesses for donating prizes for the raffle:
Bank of Ireland
Ballymena Golf Club
Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort
The Smoking Monkey
The Old Mill Bakery
Vera McCullough Jewellery
The Tullyglass House Hotel
Tom and Adrienne Wiggins
The Dark Hedges Hotel
“Chamber is delighted that a tremendous total of £3,400 was raised for the Hospice and they would like to thank all the guests for their generosity.”