Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Hertfordshire has an enormous number of great businesses and community leaders who make a formidable team

On very rare occasions a plan comes together providing results which are way beyond one’s expectations, our ‘Inspiring Hertfordshire’ awards evening was just one such occasion. Not simply a ‘sold out’ event at a great venue, or a get together of friends and colleagues, it was so much more; it was to my mind an outstanding evening that will live in the memory for some time to come. Sure it was a great spectacle and everything you would want an event to be but, the real ‘icing on the cake, was that it was an evening spent amongst many truly inspirational business people and community leaders all of whom had contributed so much to the fabric of the county.

Naturally those who won awards were ecstatic but the atmosphere was really generated by the generosity of spirit of those other finalists who, despite their disappointment, joined in the celebration. It was they who embodied all that is good about living and working in Hertfordshire. Personally I wish we could have shortlisted all the entrants but sadly the venue was simply not big enough.

In praising all those who entered the awards I must not forget our wonderful sponsors. If a better group of people to work with exists I am yet to meet them. To put on an event of this nature and complexity and involving significant costs always causes concerns. Will we attract enough entrants? Will the entrants be of sufficient quality? Will it be a financial disaster?

As pointed out above the numbers and quality of the entrants was everything, and more, than we hoped. Awards are generally judged by the quality of the winners, for me the ‘Inspiring Hertfordshire’ awards should be judged on the quality of the entries that did not reach the shortlists. I imagine many of them will be wondering what they have to do to get the recognition they truly deserve.

As for concerns about the financial performance of the event they were soon dissipated by our remarkable sponsors and patrons. From day one they were on side supportive and helpful beyond words, my heartfelt thanks to them all. Porsche Hatfield who supplied the venue could not have been more accommodating and, as you might expect from such a marque, demonstrated professionalism of the highest order. Our headline sponsors, Exemplas and the University of Hertfordshire showed no hesitation in demonstrating their support which brought not only reputational benefits but also much reduced our other concerns.

Attracting a number of other high profile sponsors from the Hertfordshire business world: Johnson Matthey, Tesco, Kiss Communications, Simplyhealth, Veolia Water, Ashridge Business School, Breeze & Wyles Solicitors LLP, Pearldrop Video Productions, Guinea Fowl Creative, and Accounting Academy Partnership; not only enabled us to produce an event of outstanding quality but also contributed enormously towards attracting a high quality field. Of course the awards were not just about business they also sought to recognise some of the great work being done by social enterprises and community leaders.

My special thanks to County Councillor and Leader of Stevenage Borough Council, Sharon Taylor, whose sponsorship through her locality budget not only provided tangible support but also contributed to the overall aims of the ‘Inspiring Hertfordshire’ campaign and will I am sure provide encouragement to all those who selflessly support important causes in the county.

Before finishing it would be totally remiss of me if I were to forget the professional contribution of Pump House Productions, Richmond Caterers and, of course, the excellent Steve Folland from Jack FM. Their cooperative professionalism in working with the Chamber’s staff, especially Jill Coggins and Jodie Reid, was absolutely key to the success of the evening.

Should anyone think that I have written this simply to crow about a great success they would be wrong, my purpose is to demonstrate that despite the constant output from various doom merchants Hertfordshire has an enormous number of great businesses and community leaders whose combined parts make a formidable team. My thanks to all who were involved but particularly to all those who entered I hope we will see you all at ‘Inspiring Hertfordshire 2013’.

Oh, and to all those who still think I am crowing, OK I confess, but I truly am extremely proud to be associated with all those concerned.