THE eighth Test Valley Business Awards ceremony at The Lights in Andover on Tuesday evening promised guests prizes and surprises – and winners and guests received them, big time, with many commenting that this was the best awards ceremony yet!

Veteran TV celebrity Fred Dinenage surpassed himself as the guest speaker and entertainer, and in his inimitable style, interacted with winners and guests to everyone’s complete delight.

Fred said: “I so admire the businesses here because they are successful at one of the most difficult times imaginable.

“My own wife has run a company for 30 years and so I know how difficult it is.”

He chatted to the winners as they received their awards on stage, asking their feelings on winning an award.

Their stories revealed moving and emotional moments, confirming why the judges had selected such fantastic winners.

They often represented businesses thriving and expanding through hard work, excellence and innovation.

Proudly scooping awards were: Mottisfont; Andover Transport; VuePoint Solutions; SEaB Energy and Minerva Health & Care.

When it seemed it was all over, guests then held their breath at the announcement of another surprise Special Award.

Fred pulled an envelope out of the mystery box revealing Lionel Hitchen (Essential Oils) as the winner of the special award.

They had been chosen by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce.

Their representative confided that they hadn’t been aware that they had even been nominated until they read about being shortlisted in the paper.

The poignancy of the evening was heightened by the two chosen children’s charities.

They explained to the guests about their work with young carers in the Test Valley and hopefully this will generate more volunteers and fundraising in the future.

Guests gave generous donations, raising just under £1,000.

This is to be shared between Andover Young Carers and Romsey & District Young Carers Project.