Awards Gala Evening 2023

Ballymena businesses were out in force on Wednesday night at the Gala Awards evening in Tullyglass House Hotel to celebrate the 20th year of The Ballymena Business Excellence Awards. The awards are organised annually by Ballymena Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the principal sponsor this year was Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. This year over 440 guests attended the glittering event which showcased the range of first class businesses in the Ballymena Area.

The BBC’s Stephen Watson was the compere for the evening and his first duty was to invite Chamber President Leigh Heggarty to speak. 

Leigh said ‘Tonight, is about celebrating the success of the Ballymena Business Community focusing on the huge contribution made by local businesses and to highlight the commitment made by so many individuals. I am a local girl born and bred in Ballymena and I am passionate about helping our businesses develop and grow. As a Chamber we see the awards as an excellent platform to promote Ballymena to the rest of Northern Ireland as a great place to live, work and do business.

We are extremely proud of the fact that despite the challenges of the economic times we are living in, over 440 representatives from local businesses are here tonight to prove that business in the Ballymena area is healthy and vibrant and that we are one of the centres of entrepreneurial excellence within the Northern Irish business community.

“I would like to thank all our sponsors, especially our principal sponsor Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. Chamber has had an excellent working relationship with the Council in recent years and we look forward to building on that relationship in the future. To our individual category sponsors, many of whom return year on year to support the awards, we really are grateful for your support”. 

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Interim Chief Executive Valerie Watts, Mr Rory Watts, Ms Siobhan Mulvenna, Mrs Adrienne Wiggins, Tom Wiggins, Chief Executive Ballymena Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, Mayor Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Mr Stephen Watson, BBC Northern Ireland, Ms. Leigh Heggarty President Ballymena Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Wilma Erskine OBE, Mrs Dorothy Arthur and Mr Stephen Neely.

Leigh went on to thank Barbara and Russell Campbell from Barbara Campbell Training and Consultancy who had the difficult job of organising the judging process. Together with the staff at The Tullyglass House Hotel and Chamber’s backroom team including Gillian McKeown and Festival Productions. 

Leigh finished by thanking the Chamber’s Chief Executive Tom Wiggins who organised the Awards process and The Gala evening assisted by his wife Adrienne and the Chamber’s Honorary Secretary Carol Wilson.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, said: “Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is proud to continue its role as the main event sponsor for what is undoubtedly a highlight in the calendar year locally.

“What always strikes me when I’m out and about in Mid and East Antrim is the passion and pride of our traders and local businesses, and their drive to provide the very best services for their customers.

“We remain committed to working together with the Chamber and our local entrepreneurs to ensure that Ballymena remains a successful place to do business, whilst also providing opportunities and support for future growth and prosperity.

“I was delighted to see Council receive a Special Recognition Award for the team’s unrelenting efforts on behalf of our Borough and the community. Well done to our Chief Executive Valerie Watts and the entire Council team. 

“Finally, congratulations to all of the nominees and winners, and to the organisers of the awards, which are fitting recognition of the innovation, commitment and resilience of our brilliant local business community.”

Chamber would like to thank Tullyglass House Hotel for their excellent food and first class service. The highlight of the evening of course was the presentation of the awards and the atmosphere was electric. 

During the evening Leigh Heggarty, Chamber’s President and Tom Wiggins, Chamber’s Business Development Manager presented a cheque to The NI Hospice and NI Children’s Hospice for £15,250 the proceeds of the Chamber’s 3nd Annual Charity Golf Day. The cheque was accepted by Elaine and Malcolm McBride on behalf of the Ballymena Hospice Support Group. This means that in the past three years Chamber and its members have raised over £60,000 for these worthy causes. 

Elaine and Malcolm McBride from The Ballymena Hospice Support Group accepting a cheque for £15,250 from Tom Wiggins Ballymena Chamber of Commerce CEO and Chamber President Ms Leigh Heggarty. The money was raised at the Chamber’s recent Charity Golf Day organised to raise money for the NI Hospice and The Children’s Hospice.

Tom Wiggins, Chamber’s Chief Executive said, “This year as a Chamber we decided to sponsor and present two new awards. The first award ‘The Special Recognition Award’ was presented to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to acknowledge the tremendous support they have given and continue to give to businesses across the Ballymena Area.

The second new award, the ‘Services to The Community Award’ was presented to The Community Rescue Service to mark the efforts of all the volunteers who go above and beyond to help find missing and vulnerable people from all communities”.

Adrienne Wiggins and Chamber’s Chief Executive, Tom Wiggins enjoying the evening.

During the evening a raffle was held with the proceeds going to the NI Hospice. Chamber would like to thank the following businesses for donating prizes for the raffle:

  • The Rabbit Hotel and Retreat
  • The Adair Arms Hotel
  • Galgorm Castle Golf Club 
  • Ben Vista Garden Centre
  • Tom and Adrienne Wiggins

The raffle raised a fantastic amount of £3,465 for The NI Hospice and The NI Children’s Hospice.

The evening was rounded off with entertainment from New Light who soon had the guests on their feet dancing the night away.

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Ballymena Borough Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 4 Wellington Court, Ballymena, BT43 6EQ


Tel: 07801 738 359


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