THE remarkable achievements of Hampshire’s top businesswomen were celebrated at a prestigious new Daily Echo-backed awards.

The finalists in the first ever Southampton Venus Awards gathered at Grand Cafe, in Terminus Terrace, for a glitzy ceremony attended by about 170 guests.

More than 600 nominations were received for the awards, which aimed to highlight the achievements of the city’s most impressive female entrepreneurs, bosses and employees across 13 categories, which included lifetime achievement, businesswoman of the future, entrepreneur and best new and small businesses.

Daily Echo readers voted for the three finalists of the business mother of the year award – Pam Marshall, a mum-ofthree who runs children’s cancer charity Hannah’s Holiday Home Appeal; Andrea Waring, a solicitor who owns and runs the Hythe-based Waring Partnership; and Sarah Prince, who runs Prince Garden Services, which operates in Southampton and the surrounding area.

Andrea Waring was declared winner on the night.

The public has also had its say on the Heart FM-backed employee of the year gong and the Paris Smith-supported prize for the best employer.

The former went to Lexi Quinton, of Marchwood-based Different Travel, and the latter to Regan Stewart, of Southampton-based recruitment agency Future Employment.

Ms Quinton, 26, said: "I still can’t believe I won, but I couldn’t have got this far without the support of my fantastic colleagues and clients who make my job such a pleasure. "It’s great to work for Different Travel as I love helping charities, both locally and nationally, raise lots of money and awareness for their cause through our overseas challenges.”

Awards founder Tara Howard, managing director of Langtry Manor Hotel, in Bournemouth, said: “The night was magical, the food fabulous, the setting stupendous and the atmosphere electric.

“It was inspiring to see the wealth and diversity of successful Southampton businesswomen and the winners of the various categories recognised for their achievements.”

The awards, begun in Dorset, were open to firms and businesswoman from anywhere in the SO postcode area.

They are now being rolled out across the country after requests from women wanting to recognise achievements elsewhere.

The Winners

• Daily Echo Business Mother of the Year – Andrea Waring, The Waring Partnership

• Heart Employee of the Year – Lexi Quinton, Different Travel

• Paris Smith Employer of the Year – Regan Stewart, Future Employment

• Rock Recruitment PA of the Year – Fiona Whitehouse, PA Anywhere

• Shelbourne Senior Living Special Woman of the Year – Sarah Clayton, KIDS Charity

• Condor Lifetime Achievement Award – Nina Bassett, Hotel TerraVina

• Hampshire Chamber – Business Woman of the Future – Brogan Mooney, The Beauty Closet

• Granite Transformations High Achiever Award – Gail Thomas, TW Metals Ltd

• NatWest Entrepreneur of the Year – Annie Black Cerna, Golden Grove

• Rothmans New Business of the Year – Aycin Wateridge, B Organic TBD

• Big Screen Media Small Business of the Year – Sally Thompson, Jiggy Wrigglers

• Your Southampton Dot Com Business of the Year – Rachel Brown, Signature Balloons

• Aleevee8 Green Award – Sam Price, Romsey Dental Care