The South African Chamber of Commerce in the UK surpassed even their own high standards with a magnificent Business Awards gala dinner in the impressive Conservatory at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in Kensington last Wednesday. Over one hundred and fifty sponsors, members and their guests sang songs led by lead sponsor Brand South Africa’s Pumela Salela and the awards ceremony ended with two enthusiastic members of the audience leaping onto the stage and leading the assembled gathering in a joyous rendition of Shosholoza and Inkosi Sikelele. 

Comments flooded in from members and guests after the event congratulating the Chamber Board of Directors on an event that was “even better than last year”. One nominee remarked to a Chamber Director on the evening “I attend a lot of awards ceremonies and I must say that this event beats them all hands down. A superb event. I can’t wait to see what you do next year”

James Endersby, Managing Director of London based Opinium Research and Chairman of Street Kids International, won the first award from an impressive list of nominees and was crowned Business Leader of the year. James was one of ten award winners announced during the evening with Viola Ncube receiving a special Chamber CEO award from the South African Chamber CEO David Butler for her outstanding service to the women of South Africa.

The awards evening, an eagerly packed occasion which was oversubscribed with several members disappointed that they couldn’t get tickets when they tried to book too late, saw South African business men and women from all walks of life rubbing shoulders with the Deputy South African High Commissioner Mr Golden Netswiswe and Lord Peter Hain who proved to be an entertaining guest speaker, as well as the Chamber Chair Melissa Powys-Rodrigues, Chamber CEO David Butler and the Board of Directors and Advisory Board members.

In quick succession Michael Butler received the Entrepreneur of the Year award, Ben Botes the Innovator of the Year award and Michelle Dunne was given her Woman in Business of the Year award by sponsor and Chamber Director Sharon Constancon. Simon Shibambu was awarded Rising Star of the Year before Mike Abbot from Advisory Board member Sable presented Lyndon Worrall with the New Business of the Year award. Newly married Pumela Salela, Country Manager of lead sponsor Brand South Africa gave an entertaining speech early on before returning to the stage to present Richard Swart with the SA-UK Promotion of Bilateral Trade Award. The NGO Promotion of Development award was presented to Ubuntu Education Fund before Chamber Chair Melissa Powys- Rodrigues presented the Chamber sponsored Giving Back award to Tamzin Ractliffe.   

After the awards the celebrants enjoyed the twelve course Tastes of South Africa buffet consisting of South African favourites ranging from Bobotie and Bunny Chow to Melktert and koeksisters. Winners and other members clamoured to have their picture taken in front of the Brand South banner.

Last year’s awards dinner was great but this year was even better was the view heard from all attending. Well done Chamber Business Awards winners. The Chamber Directors are already planning next year’s event and will almost certainly up their game even further if this year’s event is anything to go by.

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