HIGH-performing Hampshire businesses, small and large, were celebrated at the South Coast business Awards 2012.

Industry captains from across the county were united at Southampton’s De Vere Grand Harbour Hotel for the sell-out glitzy black-tie event.

Now in its second year, the awards were organised by the Daily Echo in association with Trethowans Solicitors and in partnership with Business Solent and Destination Southamp-ton.

Eight hotly contested gongs were up for grabs, including innovation, growth, environmental credentials, the use of technology, education and training and customer service.

The top award, the Trethowans Business of the Year Award, was scooped by Salon Supplies, which had earlier triumphed by attaining the Smith & Williamson Growth Busi-ness Award.

With Hampshire awaiting the Olympic flame, glamorous guest speaker swimming medallist Sharron Davies gave an insight into games she took part in, including the austere and politically tense 1980 Moscow Olympics in which she competed while aged just 17.

The British Olympic Association ambassador, who will be poolside with her microphone at the London Games, hosted the awards alongside Southern Daily Echo editor-in-chief Ian Murray.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Murray said: “It was a brilliant evening with a great atmosphere and the quality of the finalists just goes to show what a vibrant and dynamic business community we have in the region.

“If this is the standard of innovation here on the south coast then we are well placed to climb out of the current recession.”

Santander Corporate Banking was official judging partner, alongside an impressive list of sponsors that included Trethowans, Taylor Made Computer Solutions, RSM Tenon, British American Tobacco and Smith & Williamson.