JUDGES in this year’s Wiltshire Business of the Year Awards have praised the quality of the entrants and predicted 2017 will be a very close competition.

Yesterday afternoon, 17 of Wiltshire’s top business personalities – some of whom are previous winners – met in the Adver boardroom to pore over this year’s entrants, and were very impressed with what they found.

Businesses from across Wiltshire are vying for top honours in nine categories, including Apprenticeship Employer of the Year, Business Person of the Year, Customer & Staff Care, Creative Marketing Awareness, Medium Sized Enterprise of the Year, Services to the Community, and Small Business of the Year.

Alison Wraight, from Swindon-based firm C3 Marketing, who last year scooped the award for Best Small Business, said: “We were really pleased to be asked to take part in judging this year’s competition. It is a good opportunity for other companies to win awards and enjoy the positive impact it has on your business.”

Alison said: “Brand awareness has been the major marketing factor. To say we are an award winning company gives people confidence in your business, and it’s good for staffing and recruitment.”

Joanna Apperley and Gemma Featonby, of Thrings Solicitors, were also very impressed with the entrants.

Joanna said: “The quality of the businesses gets better every year and we have an excellent representation of just the sort of success stories you find throughout Wiltshire.

“The awards are a great opportunity for people to get their name out there and try to expand their business. We are all really looking forward to this year’s awards and meeting all the entrants.”

Judges and nominees will meet up later this month at Thrings’ Drakes Meadow office for a special meet and greet. It will be a good opportunity for the entrants to mingle and.

Sharon Omer-Kaye and Neil Elsden, from tax and consulting firm RSM, are charged with selecting this year’s Business Person of the Year.

“All these entrants have a very high level of passion for their businesses, so picking a winner will be very hard,” said Neil.

The awards, now in their 23rd year, are organised by the Swindon Advertiser, Gazette & Herald, Wiltshire Times and Wiltshire Business.

The gala finals night is at Center Parcs, Longleat on May 5.