Well, that was quite a night wasn’t it?
I must admit, I did have some doubts about pulling it off. The Torbay Weekly is still relatively new. We also have a small albeit extremely dedicated team. Business awards as part of our Building a Greater Torbay campaign at the Imperial Hotel with 200 people in the room and many of them leading, key and influential figures in the world of business and out in the community generally? All very scary.
But we did pull it off and more besides and that was down to main organiser Kieran Miles, my business partner Chris Coward and host BBC presenter David Fitzgerald.
But this wasn’t about us. It was about our Naturally Inspiring English Riviera and its Naturally Inspiring people coming together face-to-face for the first time and celebrating, celebrating the fact that they had just come through and survived two of the worst years in living memory when the pandemic and Covid lockdowns almost crushed them.
Celebrating, recognising and saluting the massive amounts of resilience, determination and sheer dogged fighting spirit that was needed to get us all through those horrendous, nightmare times.
You could feel the sense of relief as soon as you walked into the champagne reception. It was buzzing and it was so great and humbling to be part of it.
Emotions spilled over at times, especially when the main business awards were interspersed with accolades for people who had done outstanding work out in the community.
The Torbay Community Helpline – which was a lifeline for thousands of people during Covid – won an award for services to the community during the pandemic.
Rowcroft Hospice was recognised with a special services to the community award for 49 years of being at the heart of the South Devon community and offering the hand of compassion to so many people when it was needed the most.
And there was a special contribution to Torbay award for the late Jim Wright – ‘Mr Majestic Holidays’ who during his lifetime brought thousands of holidaymakers to the Bay generating millions of pounds for the Bay economy and created the now famous ‘Turkey and Tinsel’ holiday breaks.
Magical organisations run by magic people. And it was so heartwarming to share some magic moments like Lorraine Arnold in floods of tears after her Pier Point Torquay won the award for resilience and the lovely David Rowe, of Conroy Couch Jewellers close to tears after winning the Small Business category. It was David’s first award in more than 50 years trading in Torquay town centre where the company has been for almost 200 years. Absolutely remarkable.
The pandemic – and now the awards – have brought us all so much closer together. The importance and value of sticking together was emphasised by Exeter City Council boss Karime Hassan. What an inspirational guest speaker he was!
I just hope and pray that this is the just the start of a new sense of togetherness and collaboration which fits in perfectly with what we are trying to achieve with the Torbay Story. This new initiative focuses on what Torbay has to offer as a place. And it relies on people having pride in that place.
Torbay and its three town all have great stories to tell with different themes to them. The idea is that all these are bottled up into the Torbay Story to sell the Bay to potential investors and tell them what a great place we have to live, visit, work and invest in.
Torbay Together through a Place Leadership Board, bringing together the private and public sectors and community with one voice, sets the scene and agenda strategically, but one of the most important elements in all this are the Torbay Champions – people willing to promote the Torbay Story at events or just in their every day walks of life.
A spokesman says: “Torbay Champions have an opportunity to meet every three months to hear about new initiatives, developments and success stories from the people that are making them happen. Alongside this you will be able to create relationships that will benefit you and Torbay, influence and learn about the place, act as a spokesperson for it and perhaps develop initiatives with each other.
“Collaboration has never been more important than now as we seek to overcome Coronavirus and work together to help restore and grow the economy. Together we can show the confidence we have in our future and play a part in making that happen.”
The next Champions event is taking place on Tuesday June 21 at the Hi Tech and Digital Centre at South Devon College. The event will start at 5pm with networking, followed by the main presentations starting at 5.30pm until 6.30pm. If you would like to book a place at this event please book your spot by
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