The 2014 BETA Business Awards were a glittering affair as the trade gathered to celebrate and reward those who had made outstanding contributions to the equestrian industry. These prestigious accolades were presented to winning individuals and companies during the annual BETA Gala Dinner, at the National Motorcycle Museum, near Birmingham, on Sunday 16 February.
Guests arrived to a drinks reception before taking their seats for dinner. This year’s raffle, which raised a record £1,330 for Riding for the Disabled, included a great range of prizes such as a £240 leisure spa voucher from Whittlebury Hall, near Towcester, a Lewis & Cooper hamper from Blacks Solicitors and shopping vouchers from Joules and Caldene.
After the meal and awards, guests enjoyed hedging their bets in a Donkey Derby race game to win champagne prizes and danced the night away.
“The BETA Business Awards are always eagerly anticipated and the atmosphere as we wait for the winners to be announced is phenomenal,” said BETA executive director Claire Williams. “Our congratulations go to everyone who was nominated – they should feel justifiably proud of their tremendous achievement, as the standard, as usual, has been incredibly high.”
The winners of the 2014 BETA Business Awards are…
HAYGAIN NUTRITIONAL HELPLINE AWARD
Winner: TopSpec Equine, Thirsk, North Yorkshire
Runner-up: Allen & Page, Thetford, Norfolk
With an increasing amount of feeds and supplements on the market, giving the trade and consumers more choice than ever, BETA wished to highlight the importance of reliable and accessible nutritional advice.
Nominations were invited from retailers and consumers, and the final judging was based on these and mystery callers posing questions designed to challenge each helpline.
One nominator said: “I cannot recommend TopSpec enough. They take time and interest and never feel hurried or anonymous.”
A judge added: “Feed quantities were given in great detail and a feed wallchart was posted out, which is a great help when you are trying to take in a lot of detail over the phone. Nearest stockist details were given and a discount voucher was sent to encourage me to try the feed.”
EQUINE CAREERS SALES REPRESENTATIVE OF THE YEAR
Winner: Anna Rankine, Ariat Europe, Faringdon, Oxfordshire
This award, presented by Equine Careers, recognises excellence in product knowledge and service to retail customers. Nominations received from retailers were followed by interviews with the finalists.
One nominator said: “Anna always keeps appointments and she spends as much time as is needed doing stock takes, training and merchandising.”
A judge added: “She combined friendliness with professionalism while demonstrating strong product knowledge and an ability to think outside the box.”
HARRY HALL RETAIL EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR
Winner: Jess Papworth, Redpost Equestrian, Totnes, Devon
Runner-up: Sophie Sperling, Tower Farm Saddlers, Rugby, Warwickshire
This award is given to the retail employee showing initiative, excellence in customer service, good product knowledge and a commitment to retailing.
One nomination stated: “Jess is invaluable. She has great customer service skills and a memory for stock and items.”
A judge concluded: “She provided clear, honest advice, which encouraged me to want to shop with her. I would be very happy if this was my member of staff.”
JOULES EQUESTRIAN EVENT OF THE YEAR
Winner: Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials
Runner-up: Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials
This award acknowledges the event (at which tradestands are present) that best works with its exhibitors and takes their requirements and views fully into consideration.
Nominators said of the event, which has been running for 24 years, attracts more than 60,000 visitors and features 200 stands: “This event has a fantastic range of shops with something for everyone.”
A judge added: “Selecting the winner was a tough decision because all the finalists were so good. However, Blenheim topped them all with its service to the trade in 2013.”
BLACKS SOLICITORS TRADE SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Battle, Hayward & Bower, Lincoln
Judged by the retail trade, this award goes to a manufacturer, distributor or wholesaler that offers the best delivery, customer service, product knowledge and awareness of retailer requirements.
Judges and nominators stated: “The winner has made real efforts to adapt to retailer needs over the past 12 to 18 months. Its availability and continuity of supply and diversity of products is fantastic, with very prompt and efficient delivery service.”
SEIB RETAILER OF THE YEAR
This award is divided into four categories – large, medium, small and mail order/Internet retailers. It is presented to those retailers that offer outstanding customer service. Final judging took suppliers’ votes into account, as well as including visits by mystery shoppers.
Winner: Wadswick Country Store, Wiltshire
Runner-up: Countrywide Farmers, Evesham, Worcestershire
Nominators said: “A happy team with knowledgeable staff and an amazing product range. Nothing is ever too much trouble.”
A judge added: “The store offered excellent all-round customer service.”
Winner: Houghton Equestrian, Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland
Runner-up: RB Equestrian, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Nominators said: “A fabulous family-run business with a selection that is getting bigger and bigger.”
Judges added: “Staff showed a real depth of knowledge and were able to give helpful and constructive advice.
Winner: Alan’s Ark, Soham, Cambridgeshire
Runner-up: Eskdale Saddlery, Carlisle
A nominator said: “The store is always willing to go that extra mile.”
Judges added: “I received friendly service and knowledgeable advice.”
Mail Order/Internet Retailer
Winner: Equestrian Clearance Warehouse, Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire
Runner-up: Cavaletti Clothing, Ashurst, Hampshire
A nominator said: “They offer unrivalled customer service and are always ready to help, with 365-day returns.”
A judge added: “This is specialist retailing at its best. Staff showed a thorough knowledge of the products, enthusiasm for their subject and a light touch when it came to closing the sale.”
TSM RIDER AWARD
This award acknowledges sponsored riders who make the greatest contribution to the trade and work hard for their sponsors. This year, for the first time, the award has been divided into two sections – amateur and professional. An independent panel of judges selected this year’s winners.
Winner – Amateur Rider: Samantha Osborne
Nominator Equilibrium Products said: “Samantha truly deserves to be recognised for her input to the trade. Her influence on the ground has resulted in a direct increase in both sales and brand awareness, providing valuable access into a new discipline for our company.”
Winner – Professional Rider: Gemma Tattersall
Nominator Weatherbeeta said: “Gemma has continuously shown support and commitment to us and our rugs. She regularly posts on social media, provides testimonials and offers tips and riding advice to fans.”
UKTI EXPORT AWARD
Winner: Horslyx, Wigton, Cumbria
This award recognises a company that has generated a substantial and sustained increase in export activity over a period of at least three years.
The judges felt that the winner was a classic example of a company that had a well-thought-out and detailed strategy based on research and carefully selected export partners. It has an eye for attention to detail, which has led to sustained export growth.
BETA LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Winner: Dr Roderick Woods
Dr Woods receives the award for work he did with BETA and the body protector sector. For more than 20 years, he made a huge contribution to this literally life-saving part of the equestrian industry.
During his career, he carried out almost 40,000 impact tests, warded off potentially dangerous materials and saw a significant improvement in both design and comfort levels.
In 1993, he was asked to advise BETA on its body-protector standard to help it gain compliance with the EU Directive on PPE. He then took it on to become the British, then European, standard.
Before starting his work with BETA, Dr Woods was a world-renowned physiologist and lecturer and researcher at Cambridge University.
In 2002, he retired from teaching and research, and focused on his passion for hibiscus plants, breeding them in his Norfolk garden. He even named his own protective-clothing consultancies Blue Hibiscus Ltd and Magenta Hibiscus Ltd.
Last year, he announced his retirement from body-protector testing. His outstanding work into the development of so many harmonised standards is a profound testament to his commitment to protection of the individual and significant contribution to the industry.