Destination Basingstoke

And the 2022-23 finalists and winners are...

THE INSPIRE Business Awards 2022-23 took place at The Anvil in Basingstoke on Thursday, July 13. Business people and businesses from Basingstoke and Deane, Hart, Rushmoor and Test Valley competed for the winner’s prize in 12 categories.

Award-winning adventurer Jordan Wylie MBE – star of hit series Hunted and Celebrity Hunted – was a VIP guest and co-compere at this year’s awards with Mark Jones, partnerships manager at Destination Basingstoke. 

Former soldier Jordan, who was awarded a MBE by King Charles III for his services to education and charity on the Horn of Africa in January 2023, is a supporter of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA) – the chosen charity of the 2022-23 INSPIRE Business Awards.

Please see below for details of the finalists’ entries and to find out who won which category at this year’s awards.

INSPIRE Business Awards Final Evening – Thursday, 13th July: 6pm-10pm


New Business of the Year Award

This award is open to any business that commenced trading on or after April 1, 2020. The award will be presented to a dynamic company that can demonstrate excellence in developing their business.

And the 2022-23 finalists are:

Elai Restaurant: Elai is a snazzy urban South Indian restaurant and cocktail bar set in the heart of Basingstoke. Housed in a gorgeous 1400-year-old historical building preserved in its pristine condition with muraled interiors and welcoming staff, Elai made 25-plus events awesome in just eight months since opening!

Highlights from the entry: Elai embarked on a new venture to bring authenticity and fusion in the diverse cuisines of Kerala that would tickle all the senses to experience our home to you – ‘Gods own Country’. The founders (Nidhin Satheesan & Unni Balasubramanian) having worked in the hospitality industry have channelled the 20 years plus of experience to create this concept of ‘dining with a difference’. Rated well on ambience, friendly staff and unique dishes, Elai has become a preferred destination for special occasions like wedding, birthdays and corporate parties with the choice of menus like finger buffet, afternoon tea or Indian. Making events of any size hassle-free for their clients, Elai’s professional event management team takes care of its every single aspect. Experienced chefs at Elai are dedicated in delivering the guests a truly unforgettable experience with delicious, sustainable and uncompromisingly high-quality outdoor catering service.

Afrizi: A Nigerian food hub providing a variety of new flavours to Basingstoke, catering for gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and halal. A new place for everyone to feel welcomed and greeted with a friendly smile every time they visit. 

Highlights from the entry: We planned to showcase a new cuisine to Basingstoke – many local people haven’t heard of, or tried, African food. We provide samples for them to taste and experience so this objective of teaching others about Nigerian food has been met and continues to be met daily. We are environmentally conscious, and we provide a friendly and energetic workplace environment for our team. We have a recognition board and we welcome all their suggestions and ideas that contribute to our planning and growth. Our next focus is to increase our footfall. This will be achieved by increasing interaction with local businesses, participating in events and engaging with our outer community. 

Physical Balance: Our clinic offers the public a wide range of services, designed to enhance their physical and mental wellbeing. Services are customised to meet the unique needs of every individual, working in harmony to provide the highest standard of care possible. 

Highlights from the entry: Our business was founded on the goal of establishing a trusted health and wellbeing brand that offers high-quality treatments in a friendly, dynamic and relaxed environment. Starting with Osteopathy, we aimed to identify complementary areas for business growth. Our performance has been outstanding with a turnover of £484,000 exceeding the year one target of £300,000. Our growth has been remarkable, surpassing the 10% year on year target with a 33% increase in year two and projected 20% growth in year three. We have expanded our services to include Podiatry and Foot Care, Ear Wax Removal, Massage Therapy, Sports Therapy, Traditional Acupuncture, Reflexology, and Clinical Face Treatments. Our team continues to develop their skills in clinical and business aspects through regular development meetings, including laser therapy and acupuncture, and using “strengthfinder”. This has fostered a strong sense of teamwork within the business. 

And the winner is…Physical Balance

The Judges said: Physical Balance started trading under the restrictions of Covid. The business has not only grown remarkably quickly, but it has also completely stepped away from how rehabilitation and care businesses are normally run.  Physical Balance have put in place a totally new way of running the business. With a dedicated business support structure in place, this new approach is not only pushing the business forward far quicker than its competitors, it also makes best use of the practitioners’ time and ensures clients get the best possible treatments and care.

Award Sponsor

Small Business of the Year Award ​

This category is open to dynamic businesses (with an annual turnover of up to £1m).

And the 2022-23 finalists are:

Simpila Mental Health: We work with individuals, groups and organisations to create happier and mentally healthier workplaces where everyone can thrive and achieve their ambitions. We provide training, consulting and speakers to help raise awareness, education and support for all Amazing Humans.

Highlights from the entry: Simpila was created in 2016 following the personal mental health challenges of the founder Matthew Holman. Matthew decided to create a business that would help others who are struggling, and most importantly to help provide proactive awareness of the issues primarily to mental health in the workplace. In 2018, the company started to deliver the Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) training and to date has trained over 3,000 delegates, now training on average over 500 new Mental Health First Aiders per annum. Simpila also provide an outsourced support programme to organisations that want to continue the educational development of their MHFA communities.

Indigo Bakes: We are a traditional Artisan Bakery, using authentic natural ingredients and methodology. We are family run with family values instilled into our teams. Everything we produce is produced with patience and passion as is finished with pride. We strive to be community based.

Highlights from the entry: Our bakery first started in an 8ft x 4ft shed in our back garden. From here we attended Hampshire Farmers Markets and won five national awards for our bread and pastries. We grew with the help of the markets and before long we were baking out of a small unit in Silchester and our new ovens are the size of our shed! As lockdown hit, we lost all of our business. Not to be deterred by this, we re-grouped and set up a local home delivery service providing a contact free online shop and drop off. During lockdown we took part in, and helped to organise, a local essential goods market with a pub landlord. This proved a great success and we attended on a weekly basis in all weathers supporting other small businesses who had been affected by the pandemic. This year we have opened our first retail unit as a bespoke bread and coffee shop. We plan to become a community hub.

Physical Balance: Our clinic offers the public a wide range of services, designed to enhance their physical and mental wellbeing. Services are customised to meet the unique needs of every individual, working in harmony to provide the highest standard of care possible.

Highlights from the entry: At the onset of the COVID pandemic, a business with 14 team members voluntarily liquidated. A new team, consisting of three original members and an external investor, persevered through uncertain times and rebuilt the business, maintaining the livelihood of existing team members. Although heavy restrictions in the health and social care sector hindered the business for the first 14 months, the team identified a need for a wider range of complementary services that catered to the individual needs of their customers. Over three years, the business has seen a remarkable 50% increase in turnover and now offers a unique range of services in Basingstoke. Our performance has been outstanding with a turnover of £484,000 exceeding the year one target of £300,000. Our growth has been remarkable, surpassing the 10% year on year target with a 33% increase in year two and projected 20% growth in year three.

And the winner is…Indigo Bakes

The Judges said:

All of the finalists started their business from a setback or disappointment, but our winner in particular used this as a motivation to follow their dream and it is amazing to see what they have achieved. Not only have they built a successful business, they support and work with fellow local businesses, they have become a hub for the local community, and also improved the area surrounding their business.

Award Sponsor


Entrepreneur of the Year

This award is for an individual who has shown real entrepreneurial spirit and success in business with exciting aspirations for the future too.

And the 2022-23 finalists are:

Matthew Larcome: I am the founder and CEO of B2B Expos (Memo Events Limited). We’re a local networking and events company based in Basingstoke. I started the business over 12 years ago. I began by running two to three business expos a year in our local area, but through hard work, dedication, and an unwavering focus on customer satisfaction, we were able to expand and now run 32 events a year across the country.
Today, I employ three people, and work with a team of Hampshire-based freelancers, providing them with meaningful work and a positive environment to thrive in. We have worked hard to build long-term relationships with customers, suppliers and partners alike, while still maintaining our focus on delivering high-quality networking events that meet the needs of local businesses. We are immensely proud of what we have achieved and continue to strive to make B2B Expos the best expo-organisers for small businesses in the country. I believe my success is testament to my entrepreneurial spirit, drive and ambition.

Farah Fonseca: I’ve been running Fonseca Fitness since I was 18. It was after COVID that I decided to open it as a female-only gym space in February 2022. For the majority of the year, I was working a lot of the main hours and then fell pregnant in the April forcing me to take a step back. We now have nine sub-contractors. The doors are still open, numbers are still growing and we had our best month of revenue in January 2023. We now have over 120 members. Throughout the year we have put on numerous events. We did a charity athlete games, where we invited professional strength athletes and Instagram content creators to our gym to compete against one another. We put on food, had a DJ and a massive giveaway and ended up making £400 for local charity that helps young women prosper.

Nikki Carr: Nikki started her business in 2019 after resigning from her position of COO for a General Insurance company. Following her dream to start up her own holistic therapy business, and having qualified as a Reflexologist 20 years prior, she had researched the demographic and demands of the local areas and began advertising, mainly via social media. Quickly Nikki’s client base began to increase and on talking to an acquaintance, it became apparent that there was an emerging corporate demand for holistic wellbeing services in the workplace to support physical and mental wellbeing.
Nikki began working with a large pharmaceutical company providing short holistic therapy sessions once a month to their employees. Before long it was clear that these treatments were yielding hugely successful results. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when businesses within the health and wellbeing sector began shutting down, Nikki had the innovative idea to trial the therapies as virtual guided treatments, along with distant Reiki and meditations. The uptake and demand from employees working from home was huge. Nikki began working weekly with this company, as opposed to monthly, and conducted group meditation and relaxation sessions each week too, to support home working. 

And the winner is…Farah Fonseca

The Judges said: Farah demonstrated great entrepreneurship in establishing and growing her fitness-based business. She is an inspiration to many women, helping them to become more active and aspire for longer term fitness but also making it enjoyable. Farah is an influencer and regularly shares helpful insights into fitness and health through speaking at events, attending seminars for clients and contributing through her social media profile.


Award Sponsor

Business of the Year Award (turnover over £1m) ​

The Business of the Year Award category is open to dynamic businesses with an annual turnover of over £1,000,000.

And the 2022-23 finalists are:

Touchdown PR: Touchdown PR is an award-winning, international enterprise communications and tech PR agency. Touchdown specialises in enterprise technology innovation ranging from mobility, cyber security, data protection/management and storage, to networks, communications, bigdata, Artificial Intelligence, cloud and more!

Highlights from the entry: One of the most obvious challenges all companies have had to overcome was the recovery from 2020’s national lockdown. However, despite the world coming to a stop, Touchdown PR certainly didn’t. Over the last 18 months, it has onboarded five new regions, 20 new clients, welcomed 23 employees (including eight in the UK, 12 in the US and one in our newest branch, Singapore), and exceeded its 2022 growth targets by 50%, all from its humble Basingstoke HQ.

Wildflower Turf: With three production sites across the UK, a dedicated research facility in Hampshire and widely acclaimed for its outstanding customer service, Wildflower Turf Limited has become the UK’s leading supplier of products and knowledge for those wishing to develop biodiverse wildflower spaces.

Highlights from the entry: Since being awarded the contract to supply wildflower turf for the Opening Ceremony and Olympic Park transformation for the 2012 London Olympics, Wildflower Turf Limited has made significant strides forward as a business and is now widely recognised as the leading supplier of product and service support for those wishing to develop wildflower spaces in the UK. Since 2012, the company has more than quadrupled its turnover, significantly increased its product range, developed a dedicated research department, doubled its staffing levels and added two further growing sites in the UK (one in Yorkshire from 2016 and one in Shropshire from 2021). In 2022, the company employed 25 staff over three sites.

Phillips Law: We save you from chaos. We proactively work with you to give you back time to achieve your goals. We are serious about making a difference by dealing with you and your business as an individual and not a number.

Highlights from the entry: Despite the economic challenges of 2022, Phillips has not deviated from making significant and carefully planned changes to the business. Our strategy is bearing fruit as we move from top high street firm to regional player, with turnover doubling in two years. Further growth of 10% is expected this year. As a firm, we seek to understand the why behind each instruction and make sure we stand in the client’s shoes to ensure that we provide advice which is tailored to them. Our headcount has increased by over 30 to over 75 as the workload continues to grow, despite a downturn in many key markets, such as residential conveyancing. We take time to build strong relationships with other professionals to ensure that we are the go-to legal advisor in the North Hampshire area.
We are acutely aware of the importance of data and are introducing various processes which will allow us to understand the full nature of our client base and result in more targeted advertising and connections thereby allowing us to increase the quality of our work.

Scientific Management International: SMI designs and manufactures ‘fit and forget’ cable systems that form the central nervous system of platforms operating in hostile environments,
including naval ships, submarines, aircraft, offshore power generation and transport.

Highlights from the entry: Established in 1992, Scientific Management International (SMI) was founded to address the emerging market requirement for reliable cable connectivity in the marine defence environment. Focused around the high pressure moulding of thermoplastics, and most notably polyethylene, the company quickly became a preferred supplier to the UK Ministry of Defence and its supply chain. SMI’s technology and technical ethos has been applied to projects in Aerospace, Transport and Energy sectors. SMI’s capability, credibility & reputation stretches back 30 years, 27 years MOD capability approval, across a record 10,000 installations offering total reliability in design, on time delivery & operational competence, each time, every time – fit and forget! SMI has achieved six successive years of double digit growth. Output doubled in 2022; 23 people were added to the business, and the factory expanded by 60%. Judicious planning and careful oversight enabled the business to maintain its growth trajectory through the challenges of Brexit and the pandemic. From a pedigree in marine defence, the company has achieved sector expansion into aerospace, energy & transport.

And the winner is…Phillips Law 

The Judges said: Phillips were awarded first place due to their all-round business performance, the level of presence in the local community, and their passion for putting Basingstoke on the map. They demonstrated a positive culture, admirable core values, and an inclusive workforce where people’s wellbeing is key. Technological advancements to support clients and staff are also impressive.

Award Sponsor

Service Excellence Award

The Service Excellence Award recognises and rewards a top-performing business based on the quality of service offered.

And the 2022-23 finalists are:

Hampshire Tile Warehouse: Hampshire Tile Warehouse is a small-medium size company that is split into multiple brands and customer facing businesses.

Highlights from the entry: Our team tirelessly endeavour to aid all calibres of customer, from the contractor/trader who orders pallets of goods from us weekly, to the new homeowner embarking on their first renovation. Our team don’t just answer people’s queries – they offer a complete solution from help with interior design choices, delivery of products, right through to fixings and fittings to make everything as smooth as possible. Ability to demonstrate a direct correlation between service and business success. We have a number of customers that will only order through us (even though we can’t always be the cheapest!) because of the bespoke service they receive. In addition our speed of service on next day orders is something our customer’s love too, with Bev and the team getting ALL orders out the same day (if ordered before the 1pm cut off). This in itself can be challenging due to the complexity of some of the orders.

Minerva Procurement Consultancy Services Ltd: Minerva is the UK’s most successful school procurement consultancy. Founded in 2010 by Lorraine Ashover, we save schools thousands every year, freeing up valuable resources to help improve educational outcomes for children.

Highlights from the entry: “They have literally saved us hundreds of thousands of pounds with a deep market knowledge that I could never expect to replicate in-house.”
This is the kind of feedback the Minerva team receives every month. With our ‘world class’ NPS score of 99, and more than £2.7m of savings achieved for our clients over the past three years, exceeding customer expectations is at the heart of what we do. Why? Because it means money and resources are going back into schools to improve educational outcomes for children, and we receive repeat business for our future growth. We maintain such high standards of customer service through our company values – Passion (taking ownership), Integrity(building trust), Courtesy (fostering relationships) and Capability (supporting and empowering our team). This deeply
embedded culture ensures that all team members pull together consistently towards the same goals, and that all customers receive the same high-quality service. Relationships are key to us delivering an effective service, so we go the extra mile to personalise our customer journey and let them know we genuinely understand the challenges they face. We send videos to alleviate the coldness of email, and thoughtful gifts such as personalised notebooks to let clients know they’re valued. 

Cevitr Limited: Cevitr provides a managed service to automate business processes for all sizes of enterprises in the UK. The company aims to enable the adoption of innovative technology and help customers see benefits within days through an easy monthly subscription. 

Highlights from the entry: We are able to demonstrate a direct correlation between our service and business success due to the following key points: A 100% referenceability across our customer base; Very high retention rate; We have had zero dropouts for lack of service; Over 50% of our current leads come from existing customers referring us on to industry peers; Despite being a young company, we have customers who are industry leaders, in the FTSE 100 or global giants. These have come about purely from referrals that have been validated by the decision makers. In the last two years, 50% of our new business has come about by direct referrals from existing clients. We have a unique distinction of being given a invoice bonus by a large customer last year where they gave us an additional month of invoicing for the tremendous service we delivered. One large client has a very significant automation programme but have decided to use our services to scale internally given our ability to deliver an exceptional service.

And the winner is…Minerva Procurement Consultancy Services Ltd:

The Judges said: Lorraine and the team at Minerva clearly strive to give the very best customer service to all their clients. The judges were impressed by the reams of positive customer testimonials and by the company’s money-back guarantee – a very brave assertion of the quality of their work. Everything from customer reviews to industry assessments shows Minerva as world class for its service. The customer is truly at the heart of everything this team does – and that is demonstrated by the large percentage of repeat business.  

Award Sponsor

Business And The Community Award

The Business and the Community Award is open to businesses that, in addition to their commercial activities go over and above to make create a positive, sustainable and societal impact.

And the 2022-23 finalists are:

Fortem Financial Management Limited: A local financial advisory company with a passion for financial education
ensuring people understand their money. We provide bespoke financial advice to not only benefit people now but for the rest of their lives.

Highlights from the entry: Since the company started, we have been dedicated to providing pro bono Financial Education sessions with schools and local businesses. We fully believe that financial education should be free of charge to help people understand their money better. We have regularly presented to local schools on both financial education and career guidance and local social groups and businesses on purely financial education – putting on over 50 sessions and presenting to almost 1,500 students. We think the biggest measure of our impact is we are invited back by local schools to continue delivering financial education and careers guidance sessions. It is difficult to measure the impact of delivering financial education to children but it has helped secure jobs and we have personally taken on two members of staff who we discussed careers guidance with, one from QMC and one from BCoT. Our commitment is the same now as it has always been with the idea being that we want 1/3 of the working time to be dedicated to Pro Bono work which is spread out among the staff members of the business. Financial education is fully at the heart of what we do because we believe that there is a serious lack of understanding of the subject of ‘money’ and even more of a lack of people to teach it.

THEMPC: THEMPC provides customers with print, marketing collateral, branding and promotional needs, all from under one roof. The team acts as an extension to your internal marketing resource, ready to deliver high impact, top quality campaigns – on time and without stress.

Highlights from the entry: In 2017, Ernie the son of THEMPC business owners Paul and Emma Marsh fell ill and had to spend time at Basingstoke & Southampton hospitals. During this period, the family met other parents and experienced first-hand how tough life was for families living with a child that had a long-term illness or disability. One dedicated father’s story struck a chord. He spent every waking hour by his child’s bedside, only going home to shower and change. The experience spurred them as business leaders to find a way that THEMPC could give something back to families in similar circumstances. THEMPC was introduced to The Knights Foundation, a local charity serving Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey. The registered charity provides support for children with disabilities. THEMPC have been patrons since 2018, and are heavily involved in many of the charitable events set up to increase donations and in 2022 they were proud to be the main sponsor for the charity’s Children of Courage Awards. When the nation was mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Kerri Cunningham, an artist who creates sketches and poems, went viral across social media with her ‘Hello again Lilabet’ sketch of the Queen. Emma immediately connected with Kerri and told her about THEMPC’s innovative Swag Online system and print studio in Basingstoke which has the capabilities to manage much larger order quantities to substantially increase sales and achieve a high donation yield. Working day and night to complete an ecommerce website and providing the use of our print facilities, THEMPC team fulfilled over 5,000 prints of the sketches and in November presented a cheque to the NSPCC for £17,131.70.

Yateley Sports Community Interest Company: Yateley Sports Community Interest Company has successfully raised funds to improve sports and wellness facilities for the community of Yateley which it achieves by the organisation of festivals for the community to enjoy and in turn directly benefit from.

Highlights from the entry: Yateley Sports Community Interest Company (CIC) was created to raise funds for developing sports and wellness facilities in Yateley for the direct benefit of its community. The company has provided the funds, which have in turn attracted grants, for the purchase of 10.2 hectares of land at Sean Devereux Park, Yateley, improvement of all sports pitches and most significantly, as part of its planning to create a sports and wellness centre on this site, the building of the ‘Yateley United Community Centre’. At a time when council funding continues to reduce, this new community building, opened in October 2022, is attracting local community groups for meetings, socialising and as a business venue. A further positive effect upon our community has been the opportunities our Gig on the Green festivals have provided to many community-based charities. For example many such organisations have benefitted either financially or by reputation, from their direct involvement over the Gig weekend and the free fundraising pitches we provide. One charity last year Harry’s Hydrocephalus Awareness Trust, attracted over £30,000 of funding as a result of their presence there.

And the winner is…Fortem Financial Management Limited:

The Judges said: The judges were impressed with how much effort Fortem put into educating young people in our schools and colleges about finance.  Sounds boring?  The way they do it is far from boring.  Fortem have taken a prescriptive set of tools from St James’ Place and made them their own, adding to them, making them more engaging and getting fantastic results.  They have made it their mission to educate young pupils, teens and the more mature – so they can make better decisions about their finances and improve their lives and make decisions that are right for them.


Award Sponsor

Wellbeing at Work Award

The Wellbeing at Work Award recognises those that have shown real initiative and care with their staff wellbeing.

And the 2022-23 finalists are:

ResourceIT Consulting: ResourceIT is a technology channel marketing agency that provides outstanding content creation, demand generation and training services. With over 250 years of combined channel experience, we believe UK IT businesses
would be challenged to find an agency better equipped to deliver marketing ROI.

Highlights from the entry: Health and wellness are incredibly important to us as a business. In our view, the mental health of our employees is just as important as the physical wellbeing of our employees. Healthy and happy people take less time off work which results in our customers being serviced properly, and happy customers make for a profitable business.
Ultimately, happy and well staff invest more in our business and stay with us longer, so doing everything we can to ensure their overall health is a win-win for us. Recent challenges the world is experiencing have brought mental health to the forefront of our minds as business leaders. We made a strategic decision to acknowledge the investment necessary to take care of our people and made that investment across the board. Everything from increased remuneration, hybrid working, training, flexible hours contracts, wellness sessions and social interaction has been made a top priority.

Castle Trust Bank: Castle Trust Bank offers savings accounts, specialist bridging and buy-to-let mortgages, and retail finance to customers throughout the UK. It employs almost 200 people at its head office in Basingstoke, as well as 20 people in London.

Highlights from the entry: Castle Trust Bank is in an enviable position as a bank in that it is big enough to prosper financially, and yet still small enough to care. The importance of staff wellbeing is embedded throughout the organisation, right up to the CEO and the Board. The majority of our colleagues live in and around Basingstoke, so the sense of community is strong and with that, a desire to build a happy, skilled team is seen as critical to our success. We have implemented a number of initiatives to attract and retain the best staff, and have introduced an apprentice programme, and training and development options for our colleagues. We want people to join us, and build careers with us, and for that to happen we recognise that we must provide a healthy and supportive working environment as well as career and development opportunities. As a result, we have introduced a number of initiatives to support our colleagues over recent years and continue to explore ways to improve that further.

Simpila Mental Health: We work with individuals, groups and organisations to create happier and mentally healthier workspaces where everyone can thrive and achieve their ambitions. We provide training, consulting and speakers to help raise awareness, education and support for all Amazing Humans.

Highlights from the entry: Wellbeing and Mental Health is the foundation of everything we do! Everybody in our team are all trained in Mental Health First Aid and we are all very open to talk about mental health and our own experiences. We see mental health conversations to be positive although they can be challenging at times. We deliver multiple training solutions developed by our own team that focus primarily on mental health and well being these include:
– Being a wellbeing role model
– #24hourhumans
– Positive Employee Well-being
– Managing Mental Health
– Menopause Awareness
– Neurodiversity Awareness
In addition to these we deliver Mental Health First Aid training as a licensed provider of Mental First Aid England and since 2018 we have trained over 3,000 Mental Health First Aiders.
We provide a support programme for the mental health first aid community within organisations and we are currently supporting over 250 MHFAs. We also provide 1-2-1 mental health coaching to individuals within organisations.

Basingstoke College of Technology: Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT) is a leading further education college that offers full-time and part-time advanced vocational and technical qualifications, together with apprenticeships, higher education, professional and leisure courses.

Highlights from the entry: Our young people are coming of age with the backdrop of COVID and a more complex social and political landscape than ever before. Mental health issues are rising as a result, impacting our students’ learning and wellbeing. Our goal is to ensure that the college is a safe and empathetic place for our students to learn. The leadership team has worked hard to create a safe campus and students are confident to ask for help and know they will be supported in a number of ways. They can talk to staff, use the confidential online reporting tool ‘Speak Up’ or visit our newly-opened wellbeing space, the Haven, a calm and welcoming space where students can access counselling and support. We know that for our staff great mental health comes from feeling safe, happy, and fulfilled. They are at the heart of our organisation and we offer a range of programmes and benefits to support our staff’s wellbeing.

And the winner is…Basingstoke College of Technology

The Judges said: If the judges could, they would have awarded all the finalists an award.  But there has to be just one winner, and it is BCoT. Working together as a team, across their different disciplines, Team BCoT ensure wellbeing at work is at the heart of what they do. Their impressive online programmes have also helped schools and colleges beyond Basingstoke. They have an inclusive approach and have a programme for staff and students.


Award Sponsor

Employer of the Year Award

The Employer of the Year Award will be given to the business that can best prove a genuine dedication to their workforce, over and above any statutory duty.

And the 2022-23 finalists are:

LG Motion: LG Motion design, manufacture and supply electro-mechanical motion control solutions across science and industry. We’ve built a reputation as a trusted partner that’s taken us around the world from the film-industry to the space industry and lots of things in-between.

Highlights from the entry: Manufacturing is often seen as ‘making stuff’. Yes, we do make stuff, but we need top quality people to make it happen and understand the impact of being the type of employer that people want to work for. Established in Basingstoke 19 years ago, LG Motion has grown a reputation as a reliable and trusted manufacturing partner for electro-mechanical motion systems, adding value to projects across a wide range of industries. We strive to maintain our position as a recognised motion technology business in an ever-competitive world with passion, knowledge, efficiency… and a smile.
We’ve always had an eye on the future and emerging talent as well and it’s always been important to us to offer our staff the opportunity to increase and improve their skillset, which also enables us to improve product and service offerings. As a Basingstoke company, we pride ourselves on employing local, homegrown talent and putting them through the apprenticeship courses at Basingstoke College of Technology (BCOT) to bring them into the business. We also encourage all employees with their continuous professional development no matter their role, age or experience. 

Right at Home: Right at Home provides high quality, trusted and reliable home care to adults and the elderly in the Basingstoke area. They are rated ‘Outstanding’ by their regulator, the Care Quality Commission.

Highlights from the entry: Health & Social Care is sadly not well known for its treatment of employees and in the current recruitment climate, many of those who have worked in social care have been put off by their treatment from former employers. As a company, we work tirelessly to overcome this industry reputation. We therefore make sure we treat them with respect and understanding. Those who have worked in care elsewhere are usually amazed by how kind and thoughtful we are as an employer.
• We pay the highest rate of pay in the area to our care team for the work they do.
• During the pandemic, we paid the team their full wages if they fell ill with COVID-19.
• Some of our care team have emigrated to this country but still have family abroad. We have therefore consented to them taking additional unpaid leave to visit family overseas for extended periods.
• Some of the care team struggle with management of their money. This means that should something happen such as their car breaks down, they often don’t have the funds to pay for repairs. Subject to a number of factors, we are prepared to provide them with a small loan to be repaid over an agreed period.

Scientific Management International: SMI designs and manufactures ‘fit and forget’ cable systems that form the central nervous system of platforms operating in hostile environments, including naval ships, submarines, aircraft, offshore power generation and transport.

Highlights from the entry: As a key defence supplier, our whole team were designated key workers within days of the first lockdown in 2020. During the pandemic, we were able to keep our workforce fully employed without furlough and went to significant lengths before there was any government guidance on social distancing at work to ensure our people were safe when on site. We provided a number of spot bonuses to reward people for continuing to work when it was a scary time for many and supported people with additional ‘COVID pay’ over and above our contractual entitlements to ensure they didn’t feel pressured to work when feeling unwell. With as much of the workforce working from home as possible it was important to retain team contact and welfare support across a newly distributed team. Virtual tearooms were introduced and remain in our hybrid working practice post pandemic. Occasional gifts were delivered to colleagues both at home and on site; items of stationery, sweet treats and novelty items to simply remind everyone that out of sight was not out of mind. SMI’s core values are agility, ethics, collaboration and energy. The global supply issues created extreme peaks in work and our team members really demonstrated these values in rising to the challenge of getting work through the door. As a thank you to our manufacturing team we gave them all a surprise additional week off at the end of the usual Christmas break to rest and recuperate. As the pandemic tailed off but the cost of living crisis bit, we went further than most in our local area to increase salaries in April, and have already communicated a one-off special bonus to all team members for payment in October which disproportionately targets and supports the lowest earners who need it most.

ResourceIT Consulting: ResourceIT is a technology channel marketing agency that provides outstanding content creation, demand generation and training services. With over 250 years of combined channel experience, we believe UK IT businesses would be challenged to find an agency better equipped to deliver marketing ROI.

Highlights from the entry: We’re exceptionally proud to say that we had no redundancies or reduced working during the pandemic or at any other point over the last 20 years of trading. We have an in-house, trained mental health first aider and invest heavily in the wellbeing of our employees, ensuring they feel supported at all times. We have an open-door policy for all management and encourage staff to take a mental health day should they feel they need it. Our true passion is people. Working at ResourceIT means being part of a workplace culture where you and your career matter. To recognise the hard work of our staff, and to show our appreciation for the dedication every one of them shows every day, and the pressures caused by the UK and global economy and cost of living crisis, all employees received a salary increase at the end of FY22, to help support them through these tough times. Our empathy training has helped everyone to better understand themselves and how best to work with one another. They learned how to spot individual personality traits and working practices and are applying their learnings to always show more empathy towards each other and how to communicate better. This has helped with team collaboration and ultimately business results.

And the winner is…ResourceIT Consulting

The Judges said: Choosing a winner was never going to be easy in a highly competitive category but the judges felt that one entrant just edged the contest. It’s a company that walks the walk, talks and talk, and makes a big impact when it comes to being an outstanding employer on so many levels – seeking to effect significant and consistent change and impact, not only for their own workforce but also in the wider sector and world. And, not surprisingly, at the heart of everything they do are their happy, positive and productive people.



Award Sponsor

Diversity and Inclusion Champion

Award Sponsor

This award is aimed at encouraging businesses that can  show how they are ensuring that it’s business takes strength from all sectors of the community.

And the 2022-23 finalists are:

Penningtons Manches Cooper: Penningtons Manches Cooper is a leading UK and international law firm providing high-quality legal advice to businesses and individuals. We have
offices in London, Basingstoke, Guildford, Reading, Cambridge, Oxford, and Birmingham, plus an overseas network stretching from Madrid to Singapore.

Highlights from the entry: During National Inclusion Week, our senior inclusion sponsor and CEO Helen Drayton stated: “Inclusion underpins everything we do at PMC. Our aim is to have a supportive workplace where everyone – from all backgrounds – can truly be themselves, feel accepted and experience a sense of belonging.” This encapsulates the importance our firm places on inclusion, aligning to our key value, ‘we care’ about and respect our clients and colleagues as people. Our dedicated diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) manager works across all our locations to create an environment where our people can thrive and feel empowered to bring their true selves to work every day. They deliver the firm’s DE&I strategy, which focuses on addressing barriers to entering the legal profession, improving representation and employee retention rates throughout our departments, delivering additional training and education on inclusion topics, plus strengthening our communications and policies. By adopting a data-driven approach, progress towards our targets and objectives –broken down by inclusion strands; age, disability, gender balance, mental health, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and social mobility – can be measured against the timeline set out. To cement our objectives, we have signed up to several external commitments, such as the Race Fairness Commitment and The Women in Law Pledge.

Willows Coffee House: Willows is an independent, community-based business that accepts everyone from every background whether that be staff or customers. Supporting local communities and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council with events and activities, our door is open to all.

Highlights from the entry: Willows has not actively gone out to make itself a focus for the LGBTQ+community but by its acceptance of others and differences, it has attracted a loyal customer base of individuals and staff from the community. Six of our 15 members of staff are part of the LGBTQ+community. Willows also employees three over 55s. Willows is accepting of everyone. It regularly hosts social events for the LGBTQ+ community and was the starting point for the Basingstoke Festival Parade and the Pride contingent. The owner has also set up a Meet Up Group for Basingstoke LGBTQ+ community and is now admin for the local Facebook page. The Meet Up group in three months now has over 100 members and hosts social events and activities. We check reviews and feedback via social media daily responding to all comments and acting on responses good or in the minority bad as we believe if anyone has taken the time to review us they should be acknowledged. We also have guest books upstairs and downstairs for visitors who are not computer savy. The comments have been wonderful and heartfelt with people saying Willows is their safe space. We have also introduced pronoun badges and LGBTQ+ flag badges for staff if they wish to wear them and include rainbow flags in the window so customers and staff know we are an accepting business and venue.

Basingstoke College of Technology: Basingstoke College of Technology is a leading further education college that offers full-time and part-time advanced technical and vocational qualifications together with apprenticeships, higher education, and professional and leisure courses. We enable our students to progress to university, employment, or an apprenticeship.

Highlights from the entry: Black Lives Matter and from the hard-hitting results of a survey of minoritised staff, we recognised as an organisation that we needed to make positive changes within the BCOT culture. The group has helped us to develop a plan to discuss, address and focus on racial inequality, with a commitment to the following priorities:
Cultural change – successful implementation of antiracism training and awareness.
Reporting – Integration of an easily accessible staff/student online reporting system ‘Speak Up’ empowering staff and students to confidentially report inappropriate behaviour which the Unity group respond to.
Awareness – Celebration of key calendar events such as such a Diwali, Pride, etc through signage and college events
Representation – Upholding the Equality Act and actively looking for a range of culturally diverse guest speakers.
Feedback – Successfully running internal and external surveys and consultations with students around anti-racism.
Community – We are hosting a range of community events to grow our network and expand our perspectives and knowledge.
Growth – There is plenty more for us to learn and develop. We are continually looking for ways to improve and grow
Building on the success of anti-racism and unconscious bias training, we’ve recently introduced microaggression training for our staff which is a massive step forward in terms of inclusivity and protected characteristics under the equality act. This training helps our staff think about the existence of subtle, often unintentional biases and how the language we use can impact others, communicating hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults.

ResourceIT Consulting: ResourceIT is a technology channel marketing agency that provides outstanding content creation, demand generation and training services. With over 250 years of combined channel experience, we believe UK IT businesses would be challenged to find an agency better equipped to deliver marketing ROI.

Highlights from the entry: We take diversity very seriously at ResourceIT. Account Director Bernadette Wilson has become an integral member of the team in driving our involvement with TC4RE and is a diversity mentor for everyone within ResourceIT. Bernadette regularly shares personal stories and her experiences, helping the rest of the team understand the challenges that people of colour can too often experience at work. The entire organisation recently underwent an in-house Empathy training programme, enabling us to all better understand how to communicate and work with one another. This demonstrates our commitment to recognising that everyone is different and needs a tailored approach to get the most out of them. We operate an open-door policy whereby every member of the team are encouraged to raise any concerns or problems they have with any member of the management team, at any time. This policy aims to provide every member of the team with a solid support network, and a voice. Every member of staff has regular 1-2-1s with their line managers whereby we actively encourage health and wellbeing conversations. Everyone also has access to a mental health first aider and mental health champions should they need it. 

And the winner is…Willows Coffee House

Mary and the team at Willows have created a safe, supportive, and accepting environment for people to work, and to visit. Their door really is open to all, and this has been achieved through compassion, understanding, and lived experience. They have used their limited resources to make a big impact on the local LGBTQ+ community, which has truly changed people’s lives. Willows Coffee House is an asset to the Basingstoke community, and they should be extremely proud of what they have achieved.


Award Sponsor

Young Business Person of the Year Award

The Young Business Person of the year award is open to dynamic individuals under the age of 30 (as at 1st January 2022) running a business and can demonstrate great success and drive in growing their business.

And the 2022-23 finalists are:

Michaela Hamilton: During the first lockdown in March 2020, like many others, I found myself furloughed, full of uncertainty and worrying about whether I’d have a job to go back to. To protect my family, my income and to a certain extent, my sanity, I launched a marketing agency designed to support small businesses. At a time when digital communication became paramount, I worked with a number of businesses to broaden their understanding of social media and provided content tailored to their requirements. As the world gradually reopened and I returned to my 9-5 job, I continued working on my marketing agency during evenings and weekends. In June 2021, I went on maternity leave and decided to continue the momentum I had been building with my agency. Juggling a business with a newborn, a toddler, a husband and a dog was challenging but I had a goal. I wanted to enter full time self-employment by the time my maternity leave ended, and I wanted to own a business that could provide us with the lifestyle we enjoyed within the hours of childcare we had available. I knew that if I could do that, it would make the late nights, the long phone calls and the mum guilt worth it. In November 2021, through the networking of my marketing agency, I identified a business acquisition opportunity which had huge growth potential. Within the first six weeks of acquiring the business, I completely restructured the order fulfillment process to allow for scalability, exhibited at Digital Construction Week, connected with the CEOs of all the manufacturers and suppliers and took steps to effectively manage the network of nine major resellers. These tasks were in addition to the supporting of online and offline orders, customer queries and the day-to-day business activities. I was also very new to the timelapse photography sector so I had a lot to learn about the products, the industry and the target market.

La-Toyah McKenzie: At just 30 years old, La-Toyah has chalked up many academic achievements alongside handling several high-profile, sensitive and complex legal cases. La-Toyah knew early on that she wanted to be a Family Solicitor. Having witnessed from a young age how a turbulent family and household can affect children growing up, she has a heartbeat for helping families to facilitate a more peaceful home for their children to live in. As a young, black, female there were many challenges to overcome along with funding her education without any financial support. La-Toyah quickly proved to be an excellent solicitor. She suffered with her mental health and anxiety at various stages of her legal journey, but this further fuelled her passion to help and support others. She quietly suffered with imposter syndrome; her anxiety led her to feel as though she would not be able to excel in the profession if she was open about her struggles. Instead, she created an online community called “Let’s TalkAbout it” via LinkedIn inviting all junior solicitors, paralegals and trainees to join a safe space to vent, discuss their struggles and their strengths. The purpose of this community was to help build relationships and reduce the stigma of being open about your mental health as a junior in the profession. In May 2022, La-Toyah qualified as a Solicitor Advocate gaining her the same rights of audience as a barrister allowing her to represent clients in the High Court, Crown Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. In July 2022 La-Toyah was promoted to an Associate within Lamb Brooks in recognition of her contribution to the firm.

Dmitrijs Meiksans: I have been able to use my skills to create my own marketing agency to support small businesses, charities and individuals in ensuring that they begin by prioritising their marketing angle – sometimes for the very first time. I might be 16, but having done some of the services the agency now offers for the last three years (you do the maths), I have supported dozens of organisations with their social media management, graphic design, event-planning and simple website design.
Having gone from earning next to nothing, and now edging towards a predicted income of £12,500 but potentially up to £17,500 (dependent on one-off event income and one-off design jobs) all whilst being a full- time student, and a serving Member of Youth Parliament for my local community of North West Hampshire (for the last three years as well, and re-elected for a further two years this year) covering Test Valley and Basingstoke and Deane – utilising the plethora of connections and contacts that I have made in this role to then build up my business from nothing to something.

And the winner is…Michaela Hamilton

The Judges said: Michaela wowed the judges with her achievements. She started a marketing company during the pandemic as she was furloughed and was concerned about her job. Through the networking she did, she found a timelapse camera company up for sale – and bought it – not knowing anything about timelapse cameras. It was amazing to hear how she has learned so quickly and become passionate about the products, the business, and her customers. She has been juggling the business with the demands of a young family, trying to maintain her work/life balance. She has done this all within the space of 13 months. Michaela is enthusiastic, pragmatic, focussed, and fearless– and she had the judges spellbound!


Award Sponsor

Environmental Responsibility Award

This award is open to any business that is reducing its environmental impact, regardless of size or sector.

And the 2022-23 finalists are:

Longdog Brewery: Longdog Brewery is an independent family run brewery producing cask and bottled conditioned beer in Basingstoke. Established in 2011, Rod and Jenny Edbrooke took over the business in 2019 and have worked hard to raise the brewery profile and its green credentials since then. Each beer is handcrafted by Rod from an individual recipe. Traditional and locally sourced ingredients are used wherever possible, preserving an age old craft in a modern Hampshire town.

Highlights from the entry: Since taking over the brewery in 2019, we have adopted a clear sustainable approach to all aspects of the business. Reduce, Re-use, Recycle
Transport: First we decided to focus on the local area to reduce our road miles. We did this by supporting local business and initiatives such as local markets and events within a 20-mile radius of Basingstoke. We organised our home delivery service to also minimise road miles.
Support Local: We source local ingredients wherever possible and try to support other local producers.  
Packaging: For trade sales, we took the decision to only sell our beer in casks. These can be used again and again.  For retail sales, we encourage our customers to bring their own recycled containers to fill with draught ale instead of using new packaging and we accept returned bottles which we then offer to homebrewers at a vastly reduced rate.
Water and other ingredients: Brewing can use a lot of water. Most of our water usage goes into the finished product with very little waste. We recycle all our spent hops with local allotment holders who use them for mulch and our spent malt with a local farmer who uses it for cattle feed.
Energy: We switched to a 100% renewable energy supplier and invested in a new more efficient cellar cooler.

The Typeface Group: The Typeface Group is a Hampshire-based BCorp communications agency and design studio, simplifying complex comms and providing flexible marketing support to busy marketing teams in the clean energy, housing and construction sectors.

Highlights from the entry: The Typeface Group is a Hampshire-based BCorp communications agency and design studio, simplifying complex comms and providing flexible marketing support to busy marketing teams in the clean energy, housing and construction sectors. We decided to become BCorp certified, so we have a guiding framework for continual improvement as we provide the best services to our clients and consider the planet in all that we do. We place great responsibility on ourselves for how we conduct our business and how that affects our clients, employees, communities and natural environment. According to the BCorp directory, The Typeface Group were the first BCorp in Basingstoke (Oct 21). Mission: Our mission is to reduce marketing waste and, in turn, reduce Scope 3 emissions while improving ROI for our clients. We aim to make more businesses aware of and measure their digital carbon footprint. After all, data centres (that power the internet) account for 2% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions(GHG), which is as much as the airline industry! A green strategy for growth: Triple bottom line – People. Profit, Planet. How? We’ve appointed Rebecca Chivers, our studio manager, to support Polly, our MD, in heading up our BCorp commitment. The BCorp Assessment is a handy framework by which we can measure continuous improvement. Everyone knows our ambitions and how they can contribute to our sustainable business strategy via off-site vision day meetings planned every six months. People Open communication, shared vision and values-based activity in the community: As a leadership team, Polly and Natalie have a firm desire to blend responsible marketing solutions and services for their clients alongside a flexible working environment for their all-female workforce. Measure: The Typeface Group eNPS score (based on bi-weekly pulse surveys) is 50 against an industry average of 30 for the marketing and advertising industry.

Dignity Pet Crematorium: Dignity Pet Crematorium is an independent, family-owned pet cremation service. We have been providing individual pet cremation services from our beautiful crematorium in Hampshire since 1992. We are dedicated to providing an honest, personal and caring service to pet lovers. 

Highlights from the entry: We love Dignity Pet Crematorium’s unspoiled rural location and are passionate about trying to minimise the impact of our activities and integrate them with initiatives that will benefit the local ecosystem as well as doing our bit for charity. Here are some examples of how we contribute to the environment.
This year, we will be signing up to work with Ecologi and planting a tree each time a client uses our services. We are also looking at integrating the campaign with our online memorials shop so that a tree is also planted every time a purchase is made via the shop.  
SOLAR POWER: We were very keen to provide owners with a greener send off for their much-loved pets and thought using solar power would be a great way of reducing our impact on the environment. We looked into using the heat from the cremators to heat the pet crematorium but the cost of the specialist equipment made it unfeasible – we felt using solar power was the next best thing. The use of solar energy will reduce Dignity’s carbon footprint and hopefully also cut running costs.
We have used our peaceful Gardens of Remembrance to give some bees a safe environment to thrive in. We have set aside areas in the garden for beehives and host them for a local award-winning beekeeper (who does all the hard work!). As a benefit to us we hope the bees with pollinate everything in sight and increase the number of flowers in our garden – we also stock the honey too!
NATURAL AREAS AT DIGNITY: We have set aside several areas within our grounds to be protected as Natural Areas in order to help the local habitat and ecosystem. If you walk round the gardens you will see log piles set aside for insects and small animals, memorial benches, bird boxes, bird feeders and sections of grass that we leave natural so that meadow flowers can seed and thrive. Ashes can be scattered within these areas but markers are restricted to plaques mounted on one centrally positioned Oak Post per area. All the wood is sourced from an award-winning social enterprise .
Amongst our various caskets and urns used for placing pet’s ashes in are several eco-friendly options such as scatter tubes made from recycled cardboard and biodegradable bamboo scatter pouches. Pet owners can also purchase Blooming Remembrance Hearts that have been impregnated with spring flower seeds and can be used to mark a pet’s final resting place.  We also offer eco coffins for home burial and remembrance items like our memorial bird boxes which give owners an opportunity to give a wild bird a home whilst creating a tribute to their pet.

And the winner is…The Typeface Group

The Judges said: The Typeface Group, who clearly prioritise the environment in everything they do, not just in their working lives but personal lives too. I really hope that the multitude of examples they gave of what they do, can act as an inspiration to other businesses. Their commitment and integrity to these values even drives their decision to represent potential clients.  The Judges were very impressed.


Award Sponsor

Destination Basingstoke

Media Partner

Basingstoke Gazette
coloured bar

INSPIRE Business Awards 2024 sponsors: