News from across Dorset this month

Winners from the Dorset Business Awards

Winners from the Dorset Business Awards - Credit: Archant

Upfront: the latest news from around the county.

Search for Enlightenment, by Simon Gudgeon installed at Millbank, London, next to Tate Britain, and

Search for Enlightenment, by Simon Gudgeon installed at Millbank, London, next to Tate Britain, and also at Sculpture by the Lakes, near Dorchester. - Credit: Archant

Sculpture venue sponsors county arts event

A major new sponsor has been secured for Dorset Art Weeks 2014. Sculpture by the Lakes (SBTL) at Pallington, near Dorchester, home of the internationally renowned sculptor, Simon Gudgeon, is the headline sponsor of the event, which will run from 24 May to 8 June.

The lakeside venue will host the launch event, a charity fundraising party for Dorset Visual Arts, and then remain open throughout the 16-day countywide visual arts festival.

Simon’s own work, some of which is in private collections across the world, is on permanent show in the beautiful landscaped setting beside the River Frome. “Dorset has been a constant source of creative influence for me,” said Simon, whose work is also on public display in the USA and London’s Hyde Park. “I was delighted to have the opportunity to sponsor Dorset Art Weeks. It supports and celebrates the county’s creativity, which I am very passionate about.”

The chairman of Dorset Visual Arts, which organises Dorset Art Weeks, is furniture maker Simon Pirie, whose workshop and studio at Briantspuddle makes him a near-neighbour to SBTL.

“Securing this sponsorship from Sculpture by the Lakes is a fantastic coup for Dorset Art Weeks,” said Simon Pirie. “The shared synergy with such a high-profile arts venue makes this a natural collaboration. We are all enjoying working closely with Simon Gudgeon and SBTL for the benefit of the arts community throughout Dorset.”

Dorset Art Weeks is an open studios event involving 1,000 artists at more than 300 venues across the entire county. It started in 1992 and is held every other year, attracting 25,000 visitors, boosting the county’s economy by £2m. For more details visit

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Gardens of Light dazzle Bournemouth

The new Gardens of Light Festival has proved a real hit with visitors over the festive period. Commissioned by the Bournemouth Town Centre BID company, the Gardens of Light Festival has transformed the Grade II listed Bournemouth Lower Gardens into a winter wonderland. Renowned lighting designer Michael Grubb, who worked on the master plan for the London 2012 Olympic Park, created the Bournemouth Light Pods which have been shortlisted for the 2014 Lighting Design Awards. The winter attraction and outdoor ice rink remains open until 6 January. Entry into the Gardens of Light is completely free.

Dorset’s business community celebrates

Champagne corks popped as the stars of Dorset’s business community stepped into the limelight at the prestigious 2013 Dorset Business Awards Gala Dinner. The event which was hosted by BBC South presenter Laura Trant, at Lighthouse Poole featured more than 500 of the region’s business people, dignitaries and MPs. The dazzling awards ceremony, organised by Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, paid tribute to the many successful, entrepreneurial and fast-rising companies from across the region. Peter Scott, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “This year’s Awards featured entries from across the region, from as far as Ringwood to Bridport and from Portland to Gillingham and businesses ranged from a weapons manufacturer to a village shop.” For a full list of winners and finalists go to

Venus Awards return to Dorset

The 2014 Venus Awards, which celebrate the vital input of women in business, will feature 14 categories this year. Set up in Dorset in 2009 by business woman and mum of four Tara Howard, the awards recognise the hard work, effort and skill that it can take women to successfully juggle business with other commitments. Over the last five years the awards have expanded across the region to Southampton, Brighton, Devon and now Bristol. This year’s categories include Green Business, Online Business, Networker of the Year, Inspirational Woman, Home Based Business, Business Mother of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year.

Find out more at

County champions compete at regional tourism awards

After winning at the inaugural Dorset Tourism awards, the following local businesses have gone forward to compete at a regional level in the South West Tourism Awards: Launceston Farm B&B, Blandford Forum; Greenwood Grange, Dorchester; Dorset Seafood Festival; Highlands End Holiday Park, Bridport; Lyme Regis Tourist Information Centre; Poole Welcome Centre; National Trust Brownsea Island; Geof Curtis from Brownsea Island; Eastbury Hotel, Sherborne and Mortons House Hotel, Corfe Castle,. The winners of the gold, silver and bronze awards will be announced at an awards ceremony at the end of January in Plymouth. Good luck to all the Dorset entrants. Full details of the tourism awards can be found at

Nominate your favourite Dorset Afternoon Tea

We would like to hear from you about your favourite place in Dorset for afternoon tea. It could be a village tea rooms, a café, a stylish hotel, a farm shop, a department store or somewhere special or unusual off the beaten track. Tell us what makes these places special. Is it the cakes, the views, the ambience? And we’ll feature your favourite tea places in our Afternoon Tea Special coming up next month. Email the editor

Calendar exhibition at Moors Valley Park

The 12 winning photographs selected for the 2014 Dorset Magazine Calendar will be on show at Moors Valley Park from 5– 24 January at Moors Valley Park in East Dorset. The images capture the beauty of the county throughout the year and were sent in by readers of Dorset Magazine. Moors Valley Park is on Horton Road, Ashley Heath (Sat Nav BH24 2ET). For more details call 01425 470721 or visit