Before Christmas we were thrilled to receive the news that Go Cotswolds had been selected as a finalist in the “Small Business of the Year” category in the Pride of Stratford Awards!

This annual awards ceremony, hosted by local radio station 102 Touch FM, celebrates the business, charities and people that make Stratford-on-Avon District a fantastic place to live and work.

Unfortunately, Tom wasn’t able to go to the ceremony as he was away in Brussels for his brother’s stag party. However, me (Lisa) and my friend Alison put on our glad rags and represented Team Go Cotswolds on the night.

Lisa (right) and her friend Alison representing Team Go Cotswolds

Held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon, the awards ceremony was a glitzy affair with a champagne drinks reception, a delicious four-course meal, and an after party with entertainment. We sat on a table with some fellow awards nominees from the Old Thatch Tavern, who were finalists for the “Hospitality Business of the Year” award, some representatives from Touch FM, and awards supporters Stoneleigh Events.

Sadly, Go Cotswolds didn’t win the award for Small Business of the Year – we were up against some very stiff competition indeed and the winners were the fabulous Avon Boating, who manage the fleet of small wooden rowing boats that you can hire on the River Avon.

Nevertheless, it was an absolute honour to even be considered for this award, and a lovely experience to get dressed up and enjoy a night out (thanks to Tom’s mum for babysitting!). I must confess I was slightly relieved that I didn’t have to make an acceptance speech!

As well as business awards, a number of “community awards” were given to local people who have made a real difference to life in the Stratford District, or who have achieved great things. Among these winners were promising young athletes Lewis Byng and Ollie Cresswell (joint “Young Achievers of the Year”); Becky Reynolds (“Citizen of the Year”), who founded “Rubbish Friends“, a group of volunteers who collect litter from the streets of Stratford; and Caroline Ballinger (“Stratford District’s Pride Award”), who founded a successful charity to fund research, education and care for women affected by inflammatory breast cancer. What amazing people we have living in this area!

Another community award was presented posthumously to the late Eric Payne. Known as “Mr Alcester”, Eric was a former local councillor for 20 years and had been Mayor of Alcester twice during his career. But professional accolades aside, Eric would always be seen around the town – with his wife Mags at his side – supporting community events, volunteering time with local organisations, picking up litter or trimming back hedges and branches. As a resident of Alcester, I was moved to tears at this award – which received a standing ovation – to a very kind and generous gentleman.

We may not be Stratford’s Small Business of the Year, but we do live and work in a wonderful community!