THE local business world came together last night when Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce revealed the winners of the Chamber business awards 2014 at a glittering event at the Bank House Hotel, Bransford, near Worcester.

Eight Worcestershire companies were category award winners, a further two businesses were highly commended by the judges and one scooped the prestigious business of the year award, sponsored by CB Chartered Accountants.

The winner of the winners for 2014 was Gemporia of Eagle Road, Redditch, an integrated manufacturer and television home shopping retailer of coloured gemstone jewellery. Selling its own handcrafted gemstone jewellery directly to customers through television and the internet, Gemporia impressed the judges by its effective use of technology both internally and externally, clinching the category award for best use of technology, sponsored by TechTeam, and going on to claim the top prize later in the evening.

Last year's business of the year Gtech claimed this year's award for growth business of the year, sponsored by GrowthAccelerator. The Spetchley based company, which develops cordless technology, experienced phenomenal growth in 2014, with a turnover of £4.5 in March remarkably matching the entire year's turnover for 2011.

The award for excellence in innovation, sponsored by Central Technology Belt, went to Malvern based manufacturers Pulsar Process Measurement Ltd. Its innovative new product that caught the attention of the judges was the Flow Pulse, which can reliably monitor flow across a variety of pipe materials in a manner analogous to taking a person's pulse in order to ascertain the health of the vital organ.

The two counties' flourishing small businesses were also recognised on the night, with manufacturer and supplier of food ingredients Orchard Valley Foods of Burford, Tenbury Wells, going home with the award for small business of the year, sponsored by mfg Solicitors. With customers including Marks and Spencers, Costa and Weetabix and an organic growth rate of 35 per cent, Orchard Valley Foods was seen as an exceptional small business by the impressed judges, who saw potential for it to expand into a large company.

Although pipped to the post by Herefordshire's Kinetic Six, Pershore start-up AllValves Online Ltd., which supplies valves and actuator packages to the process control industry, was highly commended in the most promising new business category, sponsored by Worcestershire.Business.Central.

Acknowledging the commitment of Herefordshire and Worcestershire companies to both their people and the environment, the Chamber awards evening also included several awards celebrating business excellence in these important areas.

Specialists in defence, aerospace and security QinetiQ won the award for commitment to people development, sponsored by Sanctuary Group, thanks in large part to its evident desire to maximise the potential of its graduates and apprentices, including an aim to ensure they make up at least five per cent of the company's total workforce in the next three years.

In the category for commitment to supporting health and wellbeing, sponsored by Worcestershire Works Well, Southco Manufacturing of Wainwright Road, Worcester was victorious, demonstrating its commitment in various ways, including developing a website dedicated to providing a bespoke employee benefits scheme.

Security software development company Titania of St Mary's Street, Worcester came in a close second, being highly commended by the judges. Its 'Duvet Day' scheme, whereby staff can request to take a paid day of leave at short notice, proved understandably popular with employees.

In accord with the Chamber's long-held aim of nurturing and developing links between young people and employers, an award for the most outstanding young person in a business, sponsored by Dytecna, was handed out to Allteko's George Hudson. The 20-year old, who joined the engineering and procurement specialists of St Mary's Street, Worcester, as a sales and marketing apprentice and was recently appointed as the company's quality representative, particularly impressed the judges with his commercial awareness.

Completing the complement of accomplished award winners, Thomas Vale Construction of Stourport on Severn received the award for sustainability, sponsored by Resource Efficient Worcestershire, thanks to its commitment to constructing energy efficient buildings that exceed industry standards and regulatory requirements.

Other awards winners included:

Manufacturer of the year, sponsored by Hewett Recruitment: Kingspan Insulation of Pembridge, Leominster.

Most promising new business, sponsored by Worcestershire.Business.Central: Kinetic Six of Hereford

Exporter of the year, sponsored by Malvern Instruments: Apreco Limited of Bromyard

Mike Ashton, chief executive of Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, said: "As winner of Chamber of the Year 2013, the Chamber has enjoyed plenty of success this year, and it was a thrill to also celebrate the success of these spectacular local businesses at our annual awards evening."