We Are Bedford is run by Facebook friends Kayte Judge and Erica Roffe, who organise good news events in the town centre backed by a small army of followers.
Kayte and Erica were judged winners of the Bedford BID-sponsored district improvement category at the business excellence awards at Park Inn, St Mary’s Street, on Thursday. Victorian arcade shop Hanworth Interiors was highly commended in the special category.
Kayte and Erica said: “It’s our town and our community and we love it. There is something special about Bedford and we want people to realise the beauty of the town and the quality of the people who live here.” We Are Bedford receives funds from the Royal Society of Arts.
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Overall it was a great night for companies from the Bedford area.
n Bedford-based solicitors Woodfines won the blue riband Company of the Year award, backed by headline sponsor Barclays. Toybox Day Nurseries Ltd, of Biggleswade, Sandy and Stotfold, was highly commended.
Sylvia Goulding, partner at the firm that has offices including in St Cuthberts Street, Bedford and Bedford Road, Sandy, said: “It is great to be recognised in the county.”
The Green Business Award, sponsored by Pronto Plumber, went to Pure Planet Recycling Ltd, of Adelaide Square, Bedford. Motor racing supplier Showtrax International Ltd, of Sharnbrook, was highly commended for significantly reducing its energy use.
n Paul Turbutt, director of Pure Planet Recycling, was delighted to win the award after entering last year. He said: “We’re really improved as a company and now work for 20 councils and other businesses.” The firm specialises in the recycling of redundant electrical equipment and in destruction of data and personal information.
Lynda Gentle, general manager of Mayfair Insurance and Mortgage Consultants, in Lurke Street, Bedford, won the Employee of the Year accolade, sponsored by Specsavers.
Lynda, who joined Mayfair as an office junior 14 years ago now has 25 colleagues working for her, said: “I am motivated to go to work every day because of the people I work with. They are a great team and I am honoured to work for the company.”
The awards were judged by retail industry expert Don Gillett, Central Bedfordshire College vice-chairman Paula Grayson and Charles Little, director of Bedford-based chartered accountants and business advisors Keens Shay Keens Limited.
n A new Lifetime Achievement accolade was awarded to Bedfordshire champion Professor Les Ebdon at the Rising Stars Awards.
Professor Ebdon, vice-chancellor and chief executive of the University of Bedfordshire, was rewarded for the “outstanding contribution he has made to the county and for assisting so many people in their education”.
The new accolade recognises an “exceptional personal contribution to the county” in the eyes of judges at the Rising Stars Bedfordshire and Luton Business Excellence Awards.
In receiving his trophy and certificate from Bedford and Kempston MP Richard Fuller, Professor Ebdon said: “I wish my parents were still alive to see this. My father would have been so proud, and my mother might have believed you!”
He described the award as “an immense pleasure and privilege,” but added that he was only part of a great team and followed in the footsteps of great people. He said: “There is a quotation by Sir Isaac Newton on the £2 coin which says standing on the shoulders of giants. If I have achieved more then it is because I have stood on the shoulders of the giants who went before me.” And he added: “Not by trampling over them!”
n Star spot: The East Anglian Air Ambulance benefited to the tune of £1,422 on the night, £675 of that from the auctioning of a bicycle rode into the awards hall by GMTV’s Daybreak programme chief correspondent and main speaker Richard Gaisford. A cheque for £1,000 was presented to EAAA by sponsor Nisa Local.