Black Country Chamber Awards: Winner praises colleagues after tragic loss
A managing director has paid tribute to her "supportive" colleagues after scooping a prestigious award - a year on from suffering personal tragedy.
Andrea Childs, from Klick Business Solution Limited, praised the camaraderie of staff after they were crowned the Black Country's Business Of The Year.
Ms Childs suffered a tragic loss when her 20-year-old daughter, Bethany Childs, who was a former employee, died from leukaemia in 2018.
Holding back the tears, Ms Childs told the Express & Star: "I am speechless to win this award. I am very proud of the team and the company.
"I lost my daughter a year ago to leukaemia. All my colleagues rallied around me. To win two wards just shows their support. I am so proud of them."
The Kingswinford-based firm also won the Professional Services Award, which recognises strong financial performance and excellent customer service. MSV Consultancy Ltd came runner-up in that category.
Klick Business Solutions Limited specialises in tender writing and training services.
More than 300 people packed into Wolverhampton Racecourse for the lavish, black tie awards ceremony on Friday night, which is run annually by the Black Country Chamber of Commerce.
Comedian Aaron James, who is appearing at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre in December, provided entertainment alongside 2016 X Factor finalist Saara Aalto.
The first award of the night, the Black Country Business Person of the Year, was won by Martin Dudley.
He is the chairman of Thomas Dudley Ltd, based in Dudley, which manufactures bathrooms and wash-rooms products.
The award recognises a special business person who has had a significant influence on the company, and established a position of sustainable profitability and success.
After collecting the award, Mr Dudley said: "It was a surprise. It is a great honour, in the first place, to be nominated for the award and then especially to actually win it, considering there were so many other worthy winners as well.
"I have got to pay credit to lots of people; to my partner Silvie who has given me a lot of support.
"We have got a great team at Thomas Dudley, such as Jason Parker, the managing director, and our senior management team.
"Michele Bickerton nominated me without me knowing it.
"Also, I would like to say thank you to Bankie Williams, the chairman of the Chamber, who is my personal coach and mentor."
Paul Hull, of KMB Shipping Group, of Dudley, came runner-up.
Impact Sales Coaching, of Dudley, was crowned winner of the Community Champion category, which recognised corporate social responsibility, and the positive impacts which the company has on the local area. The Midcounties Co-Operative came runners-up.
The Customer Commitment Award was won by STK Fire & Risk Management, based in Wednesfield. The award recognises excellent customer service. Co-director Terry Inglefield dedicated the award to former employee Colin Whittington, who has since passed away. A seat on the company's table was left empty in his memory.
Mr Inglefield said: "We are absolutely delighted to win the award. It was very poignant. We lost a very valuable member of our team."
Nant Ltd was the runner-up in that category.
The Education & Business Partnership award, which recognises commitment to supporting future generations, was scooped by the Black Country Living Museum. Tesco Maintenance Biz partnership was the runner-up.
Kingswinford-based Simworx Ltd, a manufacturer of 3D and 4D simulation attractions, won the High Growth Business of the Year.
Terry Monkton, chief executive of Simworx, said: "It is really important for us to be recognised by fellow members of the Chamber. We work really hard in exporting, which also lead to our high growth award."
Dolphin Lifts UK won Family Business of the Year.
The Excellence in Manufacturing and Engineering award was won by IPU Group, with A&M EDM Ltd coming as the runner-up.
The Mount Hotel Country Manor, in Wolverhampton, scooped the Large Business of the Year award, with Wolverhampton Grand Theatre coming as runner-up.
The Small Business of the Year award was won by Digital Imaging Services Ltd, with Nant Ltd coming a srunner-up.
Savesta Construction Ltd picked up the gong for Start-up Business of the Year, followed by Comfyse Ltd as runner-up.
The Young Person or Apprentice of the Year award was won by Jamie Wilkes, of Robinson Brothers Ltd, with Sam Owers, of Plumbing World, as runner-up.