We reveal the talented record breakers and award takers for 2023.

Words: Demelza Rayner, Emma Palmer, Lauren Knight

Friends Fur-ever

Teddy Bear and owner Louise Jacobs are the proud winners of Vet Kitchen’s Woof and Well Award which celebrates the contribution dogs have made to people’s health and wellbeing. Teddy saved Louise, helping her persist through chronic illness and mental health crises. The two have raised over £50,000 for various charities and became the well-deserved recipients of the coveted Woof and Well medal and a year’s supply of Vet’s Kitchen dog food!

Zoo-pendous Achievements

Colchester Zoo is the proud winner of Tripadvisor’s 2023 Travellers’ Choice award. It’s the perfect commemoration of the zoo’s 60th anniversary year!

Class Act

Medical alert and autism assistance dog, Lunar and her owner Theo O’Donnell to the stage at Writtle University College’s graduation ceremony to collect a special certificate and animal-friendly treat for their volunteer work and contribution to the Writtle Pet Behaviour Clinic. Theo hopes to become an animal behaviourist with a recognised professional organisation.

Top Dog

Beloved Essex Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Dublin, was crowned winner of the Toy Group at Crufts dog show, wowing judges and making local owner Tanya Ireland incredibly proud.

Overcoming obstacles

Jeff Webster and his dog Beauden competed for the first time at the renowned The Kennel’s Club International Agility Festival earlier this year. It was a huge accomplishment for brave Beauden, whose life has turned around since he was rescued from the streets and taken in by Jeff and his fiancé, Amy. Since then, the duo has embarked on an enriching agility adventure, bonding and having fun!

Food for thought

Three Essex companies were recognised in the Great Taste Awards 2023. McLaren’s Christmas Pudding based in Little Ashtree Farm, Chelmsford was one of them – and deservedly so. The company began when confectioner Sandra McLaren noticed that none of her children would touch her Christmas pudding. Sandra then set about creating her own stodgy and suet- free dessert using zesty oranges drenched in Guinness stout and left to mature for six months. Her perfect pud now sells worldwide and is a best seller at Borough Market. (mclarenschristmaspudding.co.uk)

Forest Lodge Turkeys, of Ingatestone, was also issued with a gold star by the Great Taste Awards for the way it cares for its free-range hand reared bronze turkeys. The farm’s turkeys can often be spotted from the footpaths within the farm, strolling freely around their own five-acre paddock (christmas-turkey-essex.co.uk). Louisa’s Honey, a Loughton based artisan honey producer, was also highlighted. It has been hailed as’ the best honey in the world’ by famous Italian chef Gennaro Contaldo. (louisas-honey.com).

Night night, sleep tight

Essex’s hotels and B&Bs have also come out on top when it comes to plaudits. Down Hall Hotel and Spa in Bishop’s Stortford won ‘Large Hotel of the Year’ at the East of England Tourism Awards 2022-2023. The family and dog friendly venue boasts 98 individually designed bedrooms which are renowned for their elegance (downhall.co.uk). Meanwhile, Apton Hall in Rochford, triumphed in the Wedding Venue of the Year category at the Essex Wedding Awards. The Hall is a favourite place to tie the knot due to its rustic charm, courtyard buildings and its Grade II listed Honeymoon Suite (aptonhall.co.uk). The Angel Inn, nestled in Stoke by Nayland, just across the Essex/ Suffolk border was the winner of The Sunday Times Awards Best Hotel of 2023 – East of England region. The 500-year-old country inn is proud of its elite hospitality as well as its food philosophy of ‘innovation and invention’. The Chudleigh in Clacton-on-Sea achieved runner-up in the ‘Friendliest B&B category’ at 2023 AA awards, so you can be sure of a warm welcome at this cosy little venue.

Local hotspots

Several Essex pubs and restaurants have also been lauded. The historic Lion Inn Hotel and Restaurant based in Boreham, Chelmsford, was recognised in the Visit England Rose Awards for its ‘Outstanding Customer Service’ plus it was labelled ‘Pub of the Year’ in the East of England Tourism Awards 2022-2023 (thelioninnhotel.co.uk). Meanwhile, The Blue Strawberry Bistrot in Hatfield Peverel, was crowned Best Restaurant in Essex at the British Restaurant Awards. (bluestrawberrybistro.co.uk).

On the go

When it comes to spice and all things nice, Kaani Kaana, a Bangladeshi and Indian takeaway in Chelmsford- which admits to being ‘customer obsessed’- was crowned the ‘best takeaway in the UK’ at the Asian Restaurant and Takeaway Awards for 2023. The family-run eatery, based in Duke Street, offers an authentic experience - going as far as growing their own herbs and spices. (kaanikaana.com) And let’s not forget the culinary efforts of Basildon chartered accountant Anurag Aggrawal who reached the semi-finals of BBC’s MasterChef earlier this year. The 41-year-old wowed the TV judges with his impressive dishes which took inspiration from his upbringing in India.

Established garden centre

Proudly celebrating 77 years in business is Parker’s Garden Company, an independent garden centre, located in Frinton-on-Sea. Alongside award-winning Christmas displays, Parker’s boasts a large, popular coffee shop and restaurant, known as a ‘foodie garden paradise’. (logo in folder)

Bespoke interiors

Davonport’s beautiful bespoke kitchens and interiors have won them an army of fans across Essex and Suffolk, so it’s no wonder they’re thrilled to be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the high-end business. Their main showroom can be found on Peartree Road in Stanway. davenport.com 

Charity champion

Earlier this year, Re-Cycle, the Wormingford-based charity which transforms lives for people in African communities by donating unwanted bicycles from the UK, announced the successful shipment and arrival of its first container to Sierra Leone.

Loaded with over 500 bicycles and a substantial quantity of spare parts, the delivery to Lunsar in the country’s Northern Province marks the start of a new partnership between Re-Cycle and Village Bicycle Project (VBP) in Sierra Leone.

Since the charity began in 1997 it has shipped over 300 containers, equating to over 134,000 bicycles, to communities across Africa. Re-Cycle is also proud of its success in preventing hundreds of tonnes of bike scrappage in the UK.

To find out more about Re-Cycle or ways to support the charity visit: re-cycle.org/support-us 

Lasting legacy

Renowned surveying practice, Cheke & Co., was founded in 1873 and acquired by property group, Beresfords, in 2005. It’s one of the most established surveying practices in the region and the firm is currently marking its impressive 150th anniversary by offering clients, partners and the community the chance to win £150 worth of vouchers. Simply follow them on Instagram @cheke_surveyors1873 to enter. (image in folder caption: Paul Beresford, CEO; Steven Bond, Managing Director; Chloe Free, Senior Group Resources Executive; Gary Luckman, Finance Director; David Clifford-Smith, Director.) Emailed Becky for photographer credit.

Worthwhile causes

Essex-based health and social care organisation Provide Community has announced a record funding pot of £176,500 in its 2023 charitable giving initiative. This is an incredible £56,500 increase from 2022, benefiting 46 more charities. provide.org.uk (pic in folder)

Top of the property ladder

Beresfords’ annual summer awards once again recognised long service employees and outstanding team members. The coveted Employee Of the Year; Best Sales Office, and Best Lettings Office were awarded to Charlotte Micallef, Gidea Park Branch and Brentwood respectively.

Bright Sparks

Grant & Stone’s electrical division, which has a branch on Brentwood Trade Park, has been selected as a finalist in the prestigious Wholesaler of the Year category at the Electrical Industry Awards 2023. We await to hear the results! (winners announced 26th Oct – image avail to download but not particularly exciting!)

Sustainable living

Edensor Care Home in Clacton-on-Sea, which specialises in nursing and dementia care, is celebrating after winning the prestigious Climate Action Toward Net Zero award at The Prospers, which celebrate the best of care in Essex. Edensor’s climate-friendly initiatives saw printing reduced by 85% in the last 12 months, as well as the installation of smart heaters and a more energy-efficient heater. (pic caption below)

Perfecting playtime

Legal & General Affordable Homes recently pitched in to help raise money for Maylandsea primary school, Essex, to fix their outdoor obstacle course for children.

Lighting excellence

Billericay-based Clarke Infinity was a finalist in the CEDIA Smart Home Awards in the Lighting Excellence category alongside projects from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The firm has been at the forefront of installing luxury home entertainment systems for 30 years. clarkeinfinity.com (pic in folder)


Emily Hewett, the dynamic force behind I am Emily Design and Marketing emerged as a double award winner at the Best Businesswoman Awards 2023. The awards commend the achievements of female entrepreneurs. Emily was recognised for her outstanding success in propelling her business forward, bourgeoning creativity and sound business acumen.

Bright Future

Palmers Solicitors announced the promotion of Louise Welch to Associate Solicitor. The decision reflects her unwavering dedication and expertise. The appointment coincided with Palmers’ 40th anniversary.

Role Models

Midwife Katie Griffiths of Basildon Hospital Mid and South Essex NHS Trust received a Workplace Champion Award at London’s Royal College of Midwives annual awards for the outstanding leadership she demonstrated when Covid-19 hit. Katie said: “Being an advocate for other midwives means I’m still helping women and families because midwives need to be looked after to do a good job. I really appreciate the trust my colleagues have placed in me.”

Star Care

Dedicated nurse Andrea McDonald was awarded the prestigious Cavell Star Award for her exceptional work helping to improve wound care at Provide Community. Andrea’s dedication, passion and commitment to her patients is second to none.

Continued Growth

Property group Beresfords reached a significant milestone with its appointment of Bernadette Barcham and Nicki Treffers to its Board of Directors. Bernadette has been an integral part of the Beresfords family since 1995 and Nicki has made a monumental impact since joining. The company takes pride in its dynamic and inclusive board and is committed to nurturing exceptional talent within its ranks.

Sense of pride

Paul Milsom, owner of Maison Talbooth, Essex, has been made Life President of Pride of Britain Hotels, a collection of Britain’s finest independently owned hotels. The honour has been given in recognition of Paul’s unique contribution to Pride of Britain Hotels over many years. It was Paul’s late father, Gerald Milsom, OBE, who founded Pride of Britain Hotels, a not-for-profit organisation representing some of Britain’s finest independent hotels.

Taking charge

Just ten years after she joined M&S on their retail graduate scheme, Dior Hudson has been selected to lead the opening of one of its biggest new stores in Lakeside Shopping Centre. It is one of M&S’s five biggest new store openings in 2023 and boasts 98,000 sq ft of retail space.

Business acquisitions

One of south Essex’s biggest entrepreneurs, James Sinclair, took over three new businesses this year to complement his existing business portfolio of Marsh Farm, The Rossi Ice Cream Company and Partyman soft play centres.

In May there was the takeover of Party Pieces, the business formerly owned by the Princess of Wales’ parents Carole and Michael Middleton. In June saw the buying of the stunning Maldon hotel and pub The Blue Boar, which dates back to the 14th century and in September was the acquisition of Cookies and Cones, with Essex locations in Chelmsford, Braintree, Leigh and Southend.

James also has a YouTube channel James Sinclair Helping You Grow Your Business, which has 67.1K subscribers.

Student success

Congratulations go to Henry Etherington, who studied BSc (Hons) Regenerative Agriculture at Writtle University College near Chelmsford. At his graduation ceremony earlier this year, he accepted the Essex Agricultural Society's Award for the 'Best Agricultural Student' and the Worshipful Company of Farmers' Award for the 'Best Dissertation in the Agricultural Department'.

Worthy winner

Elizabeth Jaiyeola, from Tiptree, won Patient Champion of the Year at the Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards (ANSAs) 2023 for her unwavering support of patients who receive treatment for sickle cell disease.

The Patient Champion of the Year Award is presented to a particularly compassionate individual who has used their experience to champion and support others. Their ongoing support to those in the transplant community is invaluable alongside their dedication to actively taking part in patient education days and panels.

Essex entrepreneur

A successful dyslexic businesswoman from Essex has been recognised for her achievements in the 2023 Dyslexia Awards.

Jacqueline Stockwell, founder of IT and governance training consultancy Leadership Through Data, picked up the entrepreneur prize at the glittering presentation ceremony in Shropshire.

The judges described Jacqueline as a ‘true entrepreneur’ and said: ‘Jacqueline’s nomination stood out for the work she has done both nationally, and internationally, for all dyslexic audiences.’

New Year Honours

Twenty-three Essex people were recognised in HM King Charles III’s first New Year honours. Professor Deborah Ann Sturdy received her OBE for services to social care in Brentwood. She is currently Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care, Department for Health and Social Care.

Jane Mary Bass received an OBE for services to education in Witham. She is the Chief Executive Officer, Connected Learning Multi Academy Trust.

Terry Jewell received his MBE for services to International Search and Rescue in Harwich. He is currently Station Manager at Essex Fire and Rescue Service.

Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst, Lord-Lieutenant of Essex, said: ‘Without people such as those who are honoured, our lives, our county and country would be much the poorer. But these honours reflect and recognise only a small part of the huge contribution made by many who work tirelessly for their communities.’

Topping the law charts

BTMK has been recognised as one of The Times Best Law Firms 2024. Whilst the report is yet to be released, each of the firms in the list has been commended in one or more of 28 categories of law, by its peers in other law firms.

Earlier this year, BTMK was the lead partner in Wild in Art 2023, which brought a herd of beautifully decorated elephants to the City of Southend. The whole event raised over £600,000 for Haven Hospices and BTMK’s sponsored elephant, Nelly, is now proudly displayed at the firm’s headquarters in Southend-on-Sea.

Landmark headquarters

Earlier this year, the Stibbards family, local dignitaries and invited guests came together to celebrate the opening of S. Stibbards & Sons new landmark headquarters, Weir View House. Based in the heart of the community on the Benfleet and Rayleigh borders, it is hoped that this inspirational building will become a destination for those seeking comfort and compassion in their time of need.

S. Stibbards & Sons has been established for 156 years and is now in its sixth generation of family ownership with the Stibbards family actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the Company.

Hair flair

It’s an exciting year for TONI&GUY Billericay as the salon celebrates its 20-year anniversary.

Established in July 2003, Jim Shaw and his sister Maria opened the TONI&GUY Billericay salon, growing it into the reputable and award-winning salon it is today, with many of the original staff still working in the salon today 20 years later.

Going green

Oltco, the UK’s leading sustainable resin bound driveway specialist based in Colchester, has recycled the equivalent of 500 million plastic straws using its world-first sustainable resin bound solution, Recycle Bound, with the help of its regional franchises. oltco.co.uk

RHS Gardens

Essex-based garden companies triumphed at the prestigious RHS London flower shows this year, with Moore & Moore Plants winning gold in the Great Pavilion at Chelsea, with Beards & Daisies winning silver-gilt. At Hampton Court, Redman Hardy Plants won a very respectable silver medal.

In the running

An Essex runner has broken the world record for the fastest marathon dressed as an insect. David Church, 32, from Chelmsford, took on his 13th marathon in London earlier this year - but with the twist of running in a full fancy dress costume as a mosquito.

Innovative design

Praise goes to Chelmsford engineer David Chapman, who has designed and manufactured an innovative, low-cost range of accessories for gaming controllers to support players with a range of disabilities and restricted movements. thumbsoldiers.com

Charitable award

A Chelmsford-based rural charity for children has won a share of £480K in Lycetts and Benefact Group’s latest round of giving.

The Country Trust, which introduces children with limited opportunities to the working countryside, received £12,000 in the Movement for Good Awards.

It is one of 22 charities in the UK and Ireland chosen by rural insurer Lycetts, and parent company Benefact Group, in recognition of the real difference they make to their communities.

Jill Attenborough, CEO of the Country Trust, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted. The money will enable us to fund 14 Farm Discovery visits for 364 disadvantaged primary school children across England and North Wales.’