Stirling Business Excellence Awards: A Night of Recognition and Celebration

Businesses in Stirling and the surrounding areas took the spotlight at the prestigious Stirling Business Excellence Awards, a celebratory event hosted by The Scotsman in collaboration with headline sponsor Invest in Stirling and in association with STEP. The Stirling Court Hotel played host to around 200 guests eager to discover the outstanding organisations recognised for their contributions to the economic growth of the region in the inaugural Stirling Business Excellence Awards.

Full list of winners:

Business of the Year: The Real Food Cafe

The Real Food Cafe, nestled in Tyndrum, earned the winning title of Business of the Year. Established in 2005 by Sarah Heward, the cafe transformed a former derelict Little Chef into an iconic roadside diner on the A82 and West Highland Way. Co-owned and managed by Sarah and her husband Alan McColm, the business’s success is attributed to an excellent management team and an unwavering commitment to providing a unique dining experience.

Entrepreneur of the Year: Jason Wagner

Jason Wagner was recognised as the Entrepreneur of the Year for his outstanding contributions and innovative spirit in the business community. His leadership and entrepreneurial expertise have set a remarkable example for others to follow.

SME Employer of the Year (sponsored by University of Stirling): Allanwater Brewhouse

Allanwater Brewhouse, honoured as SME Employer of the Year, not only excels in fostering a positive workplace but also boasts a rich brewing history. Established in 1996 by Douglas Ross, the brewery has perfected a range of traditional and experimental brews. From classics like 70/- and Pot Black Stout to innovative creations such as Thai Pot and Chilli, their commitment to quality is unwavering. Embracing natural and ethical ingredients, Allanwater Brewhouse is not just a standout employer but a key player in Stirling’s food and drink scene.

Rural Business of the Year: Charlotte Grace Bridal

Charlotte Grace Bridal, named Rural Business of the Year, is a beacon of excellence in the rural business landscape. With over 30 years of expertise, the boutique offers an intimate and calm space for brides to make magical memories while choosing their exclusive wedding dress collections, making it a distinctive force in Central Scotland’s bridal scene.

Family Business of the Year: Fletcher’s

Established in June 2019, Fletcher’s is a family-run restaurant led by two local brothers, Adam and Connor, and named after the youngest sibling, Fletcher. Fletcher’s, recognised as the Family Business of the Year, is a family-centred establishment offering restaurant, bar, and accommodation services. The restaurant garnered acclaim for its dedication and substantial contributions to the Stirling business community. Fletcher’s prides itself on providing a warm family welcome, serving fantastic food all day, and crafting exciting cocktails.

Startup Business of the Year: SWIMSARA Swimwear

SWIMSARA, honoured as the Startup Business of the Year at the Stirling Business Excellence Awards, embraces a mission that resonates with every woman’s desire for confidence and comfort in swimwear. Their goal is to craft the ultimate swimwear products, curating a collection of swimsuits and bikinis that fulfils the diverse needs and desires of women. The focus is not just on creating stylish beachwear but on empowering women to love how they look and feel in every SWIMSARA piece. This commitment to delivering swimwear that combines fashion, functionality, and a boost of confidence has undoubtedly contributed to their recognition as a standout startup in the vibrant Stirling business scene.

Food & Drink Award (sponsored by STEP): The Inn at Kippen

Winner of the Food & Drink Award, The Inn at Kippen offers a delightful experience for patrons, recognised for its outstanding contributions to the industry. Led by award-winning executive chef Paul Smith, the inn’s menu features locally sourced fresh produce, cooked to perfection. Under the management of Paul and Laura since November 2019, their vision for The Inn at Kippen focuses on creating a warm, friendly traditional village inn. Located in Kippen, Stirlingshire, the family-friendly, dog-friendly establishment in the heart of the Scottish Countryside.

Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Business of the Year (sponsored by LOC Hire): Stirling Distillery

Stirling Distillery, crowned Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Business of the Year, excels in quality and innovation. Originating from the McCanns’ 26th wedding anniversary, the distillery crafted its first Stirling Gin bottle in 2015. Evolving from a small batch to a nationally recognised spirit, it expanded into whisky production. Achieving historic milestones, the distillery provides an immersive experience with a visitor’s centre, shop, and soon-to-be renovated garden, offering gin tours, tastings, cocktail masterclasses, and events.

Apprentice/Trainee of the Year (sponsored by ECO Hire): Ryan Coalter

Ryan Coalter, awarded Apprentice/Trainee of the Year, stands out for his dedication, hard work, and exceptional contributions as he overcame challenges related to autism. Referred to the service by Skills Development Scotland, Ryan’s journey began as a school leaver with a focus on a career in transport and logistics. Despite initial difficulties, he successfully passed his driving exams and entered full-time employment with Transition Stirling, excelling as a Warehouse Operative/Driver. With considerable responsibilities in delivery and customer service, Ryan’s commitment and efficiency have garnered praise. Transition Stirling’s innovative support and reasonable adjustments have allowed Ryan to thrive in the workplace, demonstrating the organisation’s dedication to his personal and professional development. Ongoing efforts aim to guide Ryan towards advanced driving qualifications, showcasing a commitment to his continued success.

Business in the Community Award: Babes in the Wood, Stirling

Babes in the Wood, Stirling, achieved the Business in the Community Award for making a significant positive impact on the local community through a dedicated commitment to social responsibility. Established with the aim of reducing landfill waste and addressing the impact of poverty on children, the organisation runs a welcoming community shop offering affordable children’s items. They provide assistance to families referred by different agencies, supplying free clothing, toys, and baby equipment.

Employer of the Year (sponsored by Kings Park Hospital): Blueberry Hill Meals

Blueberry Hill Meals, named Employer of the Year, is a family-run frozen meals delivery service in Stirling, celebrated for its exceptional commitment to employees and dedication to a supportive workplace. Established in 2012 by Emily Ogilvy, the company has seen significant growth since its 2014 start in STEP, Stirling Enterprise Park. With the additions of Head Chef John, General Manager Sarah, and Emily’s sister Victoria, Blueberry Hill Meals has become a thriving independent company. From humble beginnings in their mother’s kitchen, the company now serves satisfied customers across much of Central Scotland and beyond. The family’s commitment to crafting a superb range of soups, main meals, and desserts shines through, offering nutritious and flavourful options with a home-cooked touch.

Innovation Award (sponsored by Techscaler): Wild Child Animation

Wild Child Animation, winners of the Innovation Award, stands out for its groundbreaking innovations, pushing the boundaries in the field of animation and creativity. With nearly 1000 years of combined experience, the studio is a powerhouse of problem-solving expertise. At the core, Wild Child Animation is dedicated to developing a team of highly talented artists, emphasising quality animation, pipeline innovation, and fostering a culture of inclusivity and creativity.

Sustainable Initiative Award (sponsored by Graham and Sibbald): Myriad Wind Energy Systems

Announced as the winner of the Sustainable Initiative Award, Myriad Wind Energy Systems is being recognized for its impactful contributions to sustainability, showcasing initiatives that make a positive difference. At Myriad, the focus is on designing the next generation of high-performance wind turbines. The vision is to make wind energy more affordable, especially in remote and hard-to-reach locations, utilising their innovative modular design.

Diversity Award: Radical Weavers Limited

Radical Weavers Limited, winner of the Diversity Award, is distinguished for its commitment to diversity and inclusion, fostering an environment that values and celebrates differences. At Radical Weavers, the focus is on weaving workshops that embody fun, creativity, and endless possibilities. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just beginning to weave your dreams, their tailor-made workshops cater to all abilities.

Reflecting on the exceptional achievements showcased at the Stirling Business Excellence Awards, Provost Elaine Watterson and Vice Chair of STEP expressed her inspiration:

“I am truly inspired by the innovative spirit and unwavering dedication of our local businesses. The resilience and commitment displayed by each winner is a testament to the strength of our business community. As the Provost of Stirling, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the honourees. Your success not only propels our local economy but also exemplifies the spirit of excellence that defines Stirling. Here’s to continued growth, collaboration, and prosperity in the vibrant business landscape of our remarkable city.”

The Stirling Business Excellence Awards underscored the resilience, innovation, and dedication of businesses in the region, setting the stage for future success and collaboration. As Jim Killough, the commercial director of The Scotsman, aptly put it, “It was wonderful to see such a wide range of businesses of all sizes being celebrated at our inaugural Stirling Business Awards. There was a real buzz in the room during the awards ceremony which provided an excellent networking opportunity for everyone there.”

“I’d like to congratulate all the businesses whose success was marked last night and hope they continue to go from strength to strength. I’d also like to thank all our sponsors and supporters, including our headline sponsor Invest in Stirling.”

As the night concluded, the echoes of celebration lingered, affirming the significance of the Stirling Business Excellence Awards as a platform that honours and propels the region’s businesses to greater heights. Congratulations to all the winners, and may they continue to go from strength to strength!



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