DEDICATION to excellence has reaped rewards for a Worcestershire prison and security training provider.

More than 1,700 guests - including Prime Minister Tony Blair - watched Worcester-based SITO win the small company category of Midlands Excellence Awards.

Long Lartin, the category B prison based in South Littleton, near Evesham, was handed the trophy for the most improved organisation at the Birmingham International Convention Centre on Wednesday night.

Mr Blair endorsed the organisations' success via a video link while Olympic gold medallist Duncan Goodhew and Midlands Excellence chairman Alan Jones presented the winners with their accolades.

The public and private sector funded charity is dedicated to improving regional companies' performance.

All award entrants used the European Excellence Model, a management tool enabling them to improve competitiveness and efficiency.

Barbourne-based SITO, this year celebrating its 10th anniversary with global expansion plans, has been using the model to improve performance since 1996.

Two years ago, it reached the final. But chief executive Raymond Clarke said the firm was delighted to have gone one step further.

"To win a Midlands Excellence Award is a fantastic 10th birthday present," he said.

"Our philosophy is that it's best to build on a foundation of quality. Adopting the model has helped us achieve that and look to the future in a systematic way."

Long Lartin is the only British prison to use the model which it says has provided the framework for continuous improvement.

Seven hundred staff and 460 inmates who are now being given extra educational and work opportunities are said to have benefited from the charity's model.