Express & Star

A night of celebrations at the Express & Star Business Awards 2024

There was laughter, dancing and wild celebrations from many of the winners at the Express & Star Business Awards 2024.

Award winners on stage at the end of the evening

The Express and Star Business Awards shone a spotlight on business talent across the Black Country and Staffordshire.

Host Des Coleman, the Central television weatherman, took to the stage from the back of the hall to get the party mood going with a performance of Love Really Hurts Without You that got the more than 300 guests singing along, clapping and dancing. He even got Black Country Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sarah Moorhouse up on stage to dance along with him.

Editor Mark Drew, left, with Inco Contracts celebrating winning Business of the Year

The Civic Hall in the University of Wolverhampton at The Halls complex was the venue for the black-tie dinner which also started the newspaper's 150th anniversary celebrations and saw 11 category awards presented.

Mike Brown and Matt Randle, right, of Dreamland

Express & Star Editor Mark Drew presented Inco Contracts, of Dunston Business Village, near Stafford, with the Business of the Year award.

Express & Star Editor Mark Drew on stage

He told guests that judging had opened his eyes to the world class work being done by business across the circulation area.

"We are celebrating 150 years and supporting businesses has always been at the heart of what we do. I hope we will continue to do that through event like this and our day-today reporting of your good work," he said.

Tony Kirk of Top Gear Tuning

Special guest, Wolverhampton-born Suzi Perry presented two special recognition awards on the night to Matthew Randle, general manager of Dreamland Bedding, Brierley Hill, for transforming the business, and John Donovan – founder and managing director of JJX Logistics, Kingswinford, for being a "true visionary leader with nearly 30 years of experience".

"It is really lovely to be here. I have affinity with the Express & Star as I did my first experience with the newspaper at the age of 16 and my mum spent many happy years working at the Star.

"To have been going for 150 years is an extraordinary achievement," she said.

Suzy Perry joins in with the Higher/Lower cards game

Mr Randle, who had also been nominated for apprentice of the year and employee of the year, was delighted at his recognition and said he had not expected it.

He finishes his level 7 apprenticeship in January and a Master of Business Administration in September.

Host Des Coleman on stage with Sarah Moorhouse and Gail Arnold from Black Country Chamber of Commerce

Dreamland owner Mike Brown, who started the business in 1976, said: "I'm very proud of Matt. Without him I don't think we would be trading now."

Award winners on stage at the end of the evening

Guests attending the event were entertained by the Rob Murray Jazz Band at the reception in the Wulfrun Hall at the start of the evening. Front pages from the Express & Star's long history featured on screen.

The new Labour Mayor of the West Midlands, Richard Parker, told guests: "This is a fantastic awards event.

West Midlands Mayor Richard Parker addresses the guests

He said he had been pleased to meet so many great businesses that were making a contribution to the regional economy and the Black Country and helping to drive growth.

"I hope over the next four years I will get to meet many more of you face to face to talk about my plans to build our economy and create the jobs the region needs."

Ready for the Express & Star Business Awards 2024

He added that he hoped the Express & Star, which had a fantastic history, would continue to succeed and do its best for the businesses and people of the Black Country.

Employee of the year Lydia Hopley with John Brookes from sponsors Wombourne Windows

A Higher/Lower card game formed part of the fun with the winner donating her prize of £150 to the awards charity – Midlandas Air Ambulance.

The evening has raised more than £2,000 for the air ambulance operation at Cosford.