Top awards for four Sidmouth enterprises

FOUR Sidmouth businesses have achieved top accolades within their own field. Sidmouth Garden Centre has won three trophies at this year s national Garden Retail Awards, gaining the titles Best Garden Centre with under £3 million turnover,

FOUR Sidmouth businesses have achieved top accolades within their own field.

Sidmouth Garden Centre has won three trophies at this year's national Garden Retail Awards, gaining the titles Best Garden Centre with under £3 million turnover, Best Customer Service and Best Concession with a gift area.

After receiving the awards in London, owner Ian Barlow said: "I am chuffed to bits. There were the likes of B&Q and Dobies there and we beat them all.

"It is the first time in the Awards' history that a garden centre has walked away with more than two prizes."

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Ian and wife Nikki were among 400 at the presentation ceremony, accompanied by centre restaurant manager Carolyn Blackmore and husband Tony.

Judges secretly visited the centre twice between August and November as well as reading feedback from customers.

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"One judge said one of the things that set us apart was how, when it is raining, staff with umbrellas help ladies coming in from the car park," said Ian.

With 60 staff on the books there is only one way to go from here, he said.

"We have got to keep pushing forward all the time. You have to be better than average if you want to survive."


Sisters Hazel and Laura Bennett run Taste of Sidmouth off Market Place and are thrilled to have won two awards for their home produced ice creams.

Their festive Christmas Pudding flavour won a special diploma of merit in the National Ice Cream Alliance judging recently, while their vanilla ice cream gained a diploma.

"We are very pleased about gaining the diplomas," said Hazel.

"Our Christmas pudding ice cream was joint fourth in the UK," added Laura.

"It has most of the ingredients found in Christmas pudding: currents, nutmeg, brandy and orange and a special ingredient.

"It took us several attempts and a lot of formulating."

The sisters stayed open during Friday's Christmas light switch on to launch new half-litre take-home tubs of their ice creams, in such flavours as champagne, mango yoghurt, white chocolate and, of course, Christmas pud.


Just around the corner at Hayman's Butchers, Church Street, Stewart Hayman and his team are celebrating a raft of wins in recent weeks.

After impressing judges with his beef and caramelised onion sausage, to succeed in the Lamb or Beef sausage category at the BPEX Regional Roadshow, Stewart's business has won the overall Diamond Award for best bacon and cured product in the 2008 Smithfield Awards.

"We are absolutely thrilled to win the diamond award," said Stewart, who received the trophy from TV chef Lesley Waters last Tuesday.

"We normally do well in product evaluation with our bacon and other products, but a diamond is the pinnacle and a wonderful promotional opportunity for the business."

He received a clutch of six gold, six silver and two bronze awards at the Q Guild awards.

At the earlier Roadshow his nephew Shane Churchill was crowned Young Sausage Maker.

Stewart said: "I'm really pleased with the results, particularly for Shane, who has been with us since leaving school."


Family-run Brend Hotels, owners of Sidmouth's Victoria and Belmont hotels, has won silver in the prestigious Green Apple environmental awards, run by The Green Organisation, for its far-reaching environmental policies.

These include an automated metering project which makes it possible for managers in its hotel chain to monitor their energy use round-the-clock with the aim of reducing consumption.

The group's three-strong environmental resource team, based at The Victoria Hotel, developed the initiative and it is the third accolade they have won in a year.

John Brend, senior director, said: "We are delighted to have received this award, which reflects the hard-work and commitment of our 1,200 staff across the group and the wholehearted support of our many customers.

"We have developed a number of projects over the past few years to reduce our carbon footprint, including the establishment of green teams in each of our hotels, comprehensive recycling schemes and the introduction of low-energy lighting across the group.

"Among our on-going initiatives is the recent completion of a new staff block at The Victoria Hotel, powered by solar panels.

"We also take the environmental message to the community, with talks in local schools and colleges."

Next February the group will receive a Green Hero shield at a ceremony on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

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