Last Friday I went to the Winchester Business Excellence Awards 2015 as a guest of Hampshire Workspace. It was great sitting at the winners’ table- even if it wasn’t us who won.

Still, it’s hard to imagine a better dinner companion than Entrepreneur Of The Year Paul Bowler, the man who gave up a job in the City to make Twisted Nose Gin. Sadly no samples available but we’ve tried his wonderful product before and, given the risks he’s taken to establish his local distillery, we can’t imagine a more worthy recipient of the  award.

In our category, Commitment To The City, the competition was intense. We knew the Theatre Royal would be in with a great chance having just celebrated 100 years of providing Winchester with entertainment. It made our 30 years of providing serviced offices for local start ups seem like the blink of an eye. Until, that is, the Winchester Film And Art Festival– incorporated in 2014- came out of the golden envelope. At which point, the rest of us felt distinctly ancient.

Of course, longevity isn’t a reason to win. The Winchester Business Excellence Awards are about the last year and The Winchester Short Film Festival has done a huge amount in a short time to encourage local filmmakers and put Winchester on the map as a beacon for the short film. So well done to them.

Prior to the ceremony, Paul McCaffrey entertained us well. Much to our surprise, this nationally acclaimed comic turned out to be a Winchester lad so there was many a joke at the expense of the local councils, which made his act even more amusing.

You might think his was a hard act to follow for comperes Ian Murray, editor of Hampshire Chronicle, and Eloise Appleby from Winchester City Council. But they did well. Ian’s dry humour and Eloise’s manic delivery (which made us all want what she was on) kept the evening moving along nicely.

As Hampshire Workspace's marketing consultant, I kept up a barrage of tweets throughout the course of the evening but his efforts to be first with news of the winners were thwarted by the Hampshire Chronicle, which beat him to it every time. It was almost as if they had an inside source.

We didn’t win but it was an honour to be nominated and a wonderful night out.

Click here for the Hampshire Chronicle's report on Winchester Business Excellence Awards 2015