Family businesses were among those celebrated at the fourth Ladies First Professional Development Network Business Awards last week.
More than 300 people assembled at Coombe Abbey in Coventry for the glittering awards ceremony, hosted by BBC radio presenter Sandra Godley.
Winners from throughout the UK were revealed across 30 categories ranging from Rising Stars, Young Achievers and Excellence Education through to Woman of Achievement,, Woman of Courage, Advocate for Women and Lifetime Achievement. They were selected from more than 270 nominations across the UK by a panel of 18 judges at a special event in Coventry last month.
Double award winners on the night were St Maur’s William and Kelsey Seymour, Earl and Countess of Yarmouth, who picked up New Business of the Year, and Best Husband and Wife Team.
The couple first produced the premium elderflower liqueur uniquely for their wedding guests at Ragley Hall in Alcester in 2018 before deciding to turn it into a full-time family business, launching during lockdown in 2020.
William, who is the eldest son of the Marquess of Hertford, grew up at Ragley Hall, his family’s seat since the 18th century. But St Maur signals a new direction and a vision to build a ‘new legacy’ to be proud of for his two sons.
St Maur is a versatile liqueur made for sipping on its own, and for mixing in long drinks and cocktails, from summer elderflower brunch cocktails to exquisite English Martinis which show off the drink at its best.
The wild blossoms used to make St Maur are hand-picked by William and Kelsey and their friends and family in the shadow of trees which grew when their ancestors were young.
In the less than 18 months since its launch, St Maur had won four industry awards – The Great Taste Award 2 Star rating; International Spirits Challenge Silver Award; The World Liqueur Awards ‘Best English Floral’ and, most recently, Gold at Las Vegas Global Spirits Awards.
William said: “I am very proud of our achievements so far, but these awards from Ladies First are special for me because they are for the business behind the brand, and highlight the contribution of the people involved rather than just the drink itself. And us winning the New Business award for St Maur shows what can be achieved when you have a supportive and committed family with you, and when you decide you are going to work together as a business team.”
“For us to win Family Business, Husband and Wife team as well further emphasises this, and winning two awards was a great surprise. We are making early steps towards our larger goal of building the St Maur brand. We feel so honoured to be in the company of the other participants and winners in these awards.”
Kelsey added: “I am so full of admiration for William and his ability to change direction and adapt to our new business. He grew up within the strictures of an aristocratic family and on a traditional country estate, and was given the expectation he would take over its management.”
“Everything else aside, from a strictly business point of view, nothing in that would give you the skills or prepare you for starting a consumer products brand from scratch. Serendipity brought us together, and the St Maur business has enabled us to bring together our individual strengths into a business partnership too. I am particularly pleased we have been recognised by Ladies First in the Family Business, Husband and Wife category.”
Family Business of the Year was awarded to Mckees Restaurant and Haigs Hotel in Balsall Common.
The hotel, which was taken over by Simon and Jayne Chambers 15 years ago, is very much a family affair with daughter Jessica supporting front of house and son Jordan managing the kitchen with his dad. The award, of which they’re all proud, marks the latest chapter in the family’s business growth.
Jayne said: “Our business first started with a sandwich bar in Aston in 1990. From this business Simon and I, then brought a restaurant in Studley. After 12 years of this business we established a loyal customer base and extended the premises to accommodate 90 customers.”
“During this time our daughter, Jessica began working for us firstly in the kitchen and then moved to the restaurant as a member of waiting staff. Our son, Jordan, 4 years her junior would often come over at the weekends to help after service.”
“Ready for a new challenge, we then brought a second restaurant in Solihull, which became our primary restaurant. But in August 2007, a life-long dream became a reality when we moved to Haigs Hotel. An exciting prospect, we were both ready for this challenge and now we with our son and daughter both on board we were looking forward to seeing how the business would progress.”
She added: “We now have our grandchildren, Amelia, Louis and Jordan at the hotel on a regular basis, learning the ropes the ages of 8, 2 and 6 months. We continue to look for new opportunities to diversify and make the most of every chance we are given.”
The LFN Awards marked a return to a live event following the pandemic, while also raising £4,000 for two West Midlands charities, St Basils and Suited For Success through an auction and raffle.
Special guests included The Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor John McNicholas & Lady Mayoress Dr June McNicholas; Nurse May Parsons – the nurse who gave the first ever covid injection in Coventry and former member of The Drifters, Roy Hemmings.