Delia Smith gets Norfolk business award

East Anglia's energy sector has the skills, foresight and international clout to make the region a key player in the industry.

And the sector is not alone in the county when it comes to innovation and moving with the times.

That was one of the resounding messages last night as the elite of the region's business community gathered in their finery to celebrate the 21st EDP Business Awards.

Despite a backdrop of continued uncertainty in the economy, and looming public sector spending cuts, the region had plenty to celebrate.

A record number of candidates came forward for the Business Awards this year, with each category seeing a bumper crop of competitors.

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The calibre was also exceptionally high, with strong contenders from every sector of the East Anglian economy – from food and drink to tourism, from retail to the region's growing digital and e-commerce sector.

Hosted by BBC Look East's Stewart White, about 250 people attended the gala awards dinner, held in association with Anglian Water at Norwich North Holiday Inn.

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Twenty six companies were competing for 10 awards – from start-ups to plcs.

Taking centre stage, winning the coveted Business of the Year award, was Norwich-based energy firm Aquaterra, which also scooped the International Enterprise Award.

Judges Tim Seeley, of Barclays Corporate, and acting business editor Elaine Maslin were impressed by how the firm was both exporting Norfolk skills and innovation across the world but also by how it was establishing industry and higher education links within the county.

The firm is no newcomer to the Awards. Founded in 2005, it has come a long way since it won the Best New Business Award in 2007. It was also in the EDP's Future 50 class of 2009.

Another star of the night was Delia Smith, who was honoured for her outstanding contribution to the the East Anglian economy.

From staple dishes and frugal food to exotic ingredients and flavours of the Far East, Delia has taught the nation how to cook.

Over a 40-year career, she has become a writer and broadcaster and, closer to home, a director of Norwich City Football Club, of which she has been a long-standing supporter.

She was given the Denise Anderson Award, which was set up in memory of the former chief executive of Business Link for Norfolk, who tragically died in 2003.

Playing down her business role, she said: 'I'm out of my depth among these most vibrant businesses in Norfolk. It is a bit incongruous to me receiving an award here among you when I don't know my way around a profit and loss account.

'It is a great award and I'm told that Denise Anderson was a bit of a 'can do' person. Like her, I don't like people sayng 'no' – probably she would have run out on the pitch too –but it should be said that nobody can be 'can do' without the help of other people.'

Acting business editor Elaine Maslin said: 'The region's businesses have again showed us what they are made of. More than 120 businesses put themselves forward for an award this year and there were many occasions where our judges were faced with tough decisions. We congratulate all those who won and wish the rest the best of luck for next year.'

For full coverage and photographs from last night's awards gala see next weeks EDP Wednesday business supplement. You can also see all the winners and what our judges said about them at

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