THE most inspiring businesses in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight were celebrated at an awards ceremony held at the home of the Saints.

The South Coast Business Awards – organised by the Daily Echo in conjunction with Business South and Destination Southampton – took place at St Mary’s Stadium.

They were open to businesses from all over the county and the Isle of Wight.

The ceremony was hosted by Lauren Bannon, aka Lloren – singer, songwriter and finalist on TV’s The Voice last year.

Guest speaker was Jez Rose, who talked about the experience of buying a rundown Hampshire farm and the impact nature can have on people’s wellbeing.

Robert Bolwell, senior partner at Dutton Gregory, said credit should go to all the finalists, whether or not they went away with a trophy.

“You’ve made this area and this community what it is today and that’s an incredibly successful place to live and work,” he said.

He said Hampshire and the Isle of Wight were the ideal place to do business, with good infrastructure, “two national parks and our doorsteps” and “the best sailing in the world just outside our door”.

Winner of the Business of the Year Award, drawn from all the finalists, was J Williams & Co, chartered accountants started by Jeri Williams in her converted garage only three years ago. It now has a team of eight staff.

Thanks went to Dutton Gregory and to category sponsors Paris Smith, M12 Solutions Giganet, Hampshire Chamber of Commerce and Smith & Williamson.

The full list of winners, finalists and sponsors is as follows.

Small Business of the Year (Dutton Gregory). Winner: J Williams & Co Limited. Finalists: Landau UK, UKSV.

Best Use of Technology (sponsor: Destination Southampton). Winner: Applied Driving Techniques. Finalists: Apps in the Sky, Lucketts Travel.

Business & The Community (LOCALiQ). Winner: Hampshire Fare. Finalists: Balmer Lawn, Humble Plumb Pub, Silver Lining Convergence Ltd.

Best Mid-Large Business (Smith & Wiliamson). Winner: Veritech Systems Ltd. Finalists: 3R, PVC Building Supplies Ltd.

Innovation Excellence (Giganet). Winner: 3R. Finalist: GHS Mechanical and Electrical Ltd, Silver Lining Convergence Ltd.

Employer of the Year (Southampton FC). Winner: CV-Library. Finalists: Clearvision, Havant & South Downs College.

Business Leader (Paris Smith). Winner: Thom Gibbons, Apps in the Sky. Finalists: Gerald Tombs, Clearvision; Mark Dyer, Brymor Group Ltd.

New Business (Business South). Winner: Grape & Grain Tours Ltd. Finalists: Asisters Ltd, Good Oaks Care Home (New Forest).

Entrepreneur Award (Dutton Gregory). Winner: Stephen Morton, Brymor Group Ltd. Finalist: Robert Simpson, Slick Revolution.

Service Excellence (Giganet). Winner: New Place Hotel. Finalists: Calculis Financial Planners, CV-Library.

Business of the Year (Dutton Gregory). Winner: J Williams & Co Limited.