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This year the WOBA gala dinner was held at Heythrop Park and I was delighted to be there as one of the judges. Together with Paul Gingell, MD of Burford Garden Centre, we had a tough job selecting a winner in the Retail category. It was great to see so many outstanding finalists, and all the winners truly deserved their awards. The calibre of nominees this year demonstrates what a great place West Oxfordshire is to do business in.

It was a pleasure to be involved in the WOBAs and it gave me a great insight into how other businesses in this area work.

West Oxfordshire has a great reputation for independent business – you only have to look at Witney town centre to see evidence of that. Back in 2011 a group of local business people came together to create the WOBAs – West Oxfordshire Business Awards – as a way of celebrating business achievements in the area. Each year businesses large and small compete for awards in a number of categories, with the winners being unveiled in style at a local venue.

The main aim of WOBA is to connect the 8000+ businesses in the area. Entry into the awards is free and every business is encouraged to apply, regardless of size. In fact, the categories are tweaked every year to ensure as many businesses as possible can take part. It’s a great way to increase your business profile and it’s a true community affair – even the award given to the Business of the Year is manufactured locally, with students at Witney and Abingdon College competing to design the winner’s trophy. And if you don’t fancy being a nominee, there are plenty of other ways you can get involved, as all the organisers, judges, sponsors and supporters come from the local area.