Barking & Dagenham is “bigger, better… and more innovative than ever before,” says enterprise chief » SMEInsider

Barking & Dagenham is “bigger, better… and more innovative than ever before,” says enterprise chief

Last night’s BDB Awards saw the borough’s small but fast-growing enterprises lauded for innovation, sustainability and contributions to their community, whilst local institutions pledged to propel business forward despite impending cuts.

Hosted by Strictly Come Dancing star Anton du Beke, the awards showcased companies that specialise in everything from “up-cycled” jewellery to video-based restaurant bookings. Recycling pioneers Anchor Green picked up the prize for sustainability, whilst “pet taxi” firm Always Waggy Tails was recognised for innovation and Capital Karts for Best New Business. The biggest winners of the night were Stoneglow Candles, which employs local staff to hand-craft products for own-brand lines and luxury retailers, and which won Business of the Year as well as the Growth Business Award. Accepting the awards, Designer Hazel Simmons thanked the hard work of her colleagues, saying: “to sustain the amount of growth we’ve had over the last few years doesn’t come easy” and “we really are a team.”

Glen Standridge of Walter Newbury Ltd was named Business Person of the Year, having helped to grow the century-old book-binding company from local to national business via online innovations. Standridge, who began as an apprentice, rose through the ranks to become Managing Director. Other winners included Relish Café (Education, Training & Development), Whole Body Therapy (Community Involvement & Social Enterprise), Total Wellbeing (Customer Service) and Brighter Steppings (Microbusiness).

Mark Kass, Head of Enterprise and Economic Development at the Barking Enterprise Centre, highlighted the growth of technology and creative media start-ups in the area, saying that the borough had the potential to rival Shoreditch and Hackney – two areas of East London that have rejuvenated almost beyond recognition. “We are a community, and a valuable one to boot,” he said.

On-the-spot contributions from attendees also raised over £600 for local charity Living the Dream, which supports aspiring athletes in the area. Judo champion and Dagenham native Hayley Willis, the UK no.1 in her weight class, joined the charity’s founder Teresa Parish to highlight the vital work it does in keeping the Olympic legacy alive.