The best in business have been rewarded in Sussex.

The winners of the 24th Sussex Business Awards were announced at South Lodge Hotel in Lower Beeding, Horsham.

More than 500 of the county’s leading business people attended the event including Peter Field, Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex and chairman of the judges; Caroline Lucas MP; Tim Loughton MP; Jason Kitcat, leader of Brighton and Hove City Council; Peter Latham, CEO of Worthing Council; Hugh Burnett OBE, Kathy Gore of Friends of Sussex Hospices; and Sussex and England cricketer Michael Yardy.

Celebrating business excellence across Sussex, the award is the longest established scheme of its kind in the county.

England rugby star Martin Bayfield presented 15 awards to the winning companies and individuals.

Gatwick-based firm Systagenix took home two trophies – the award for the best customer service and for innovation in business.

Qualifa, winners of the award for the most promising new business in 2011, took home the international business of the year award.

The Argus: Kevin Byrne from Check a Trade.

Kevin Byrne, managing director of, pictured above, and entrepreneur of the year 2011, received the Sussex businessperson of the year award.

The Sussex company of the year was presented to Marlin Financial Group Ltd, the fifth- fastest growing private-equity-backed company in the UK, as featured in The Sunday Times Buyout Track 100, 2012.

Lord Lieutenant Peter Field, chairman of the judges, said: “For 24 years the Sussex Business Awards have recognised some of the most successful individuals and businesses in Sussex.

“If the South East is emerging as the recovery engine of the UK economy, then Sussex surely must be its spark plug creating the innovation to make it all happen. Where better to recognise the best in our two counties than at the Sussex Business Awards.

“This year was no exception with many excellent entries and I hope you will agree that our winners are very worthy of these awards.”

The winners on the night were:

The Award for Leisure Tourism
Sponsored by Sussex Life
WINNER: The Grand Hotel

The Sussex Businessperson of the Year
Sponsored by Morgan Sindall
WINNER: Kevin Byrne, Checkatrade

The Most Awesome Use of Digital Media
Sponsored by Wired Sussex
WINNER: Boing Splash Media

The Award for Innovation in Business
Sponsored by Sussex Innovation Centre
WINNER: Systagenix

The Healthiest Workplace Award
Sponsored by Active Solutions

The Responsible Business Award
Sponsored by Checkaprofessional
WINNER: Clear Computing Ltd

The Award for the Best Customer Service
Sponsored by Domestic & General
WINNER: Systagenix

The Small Business of the Year
Sponsored by Deloitte and Sussex Enterprise
WINNER: South Downs Solar Ltd

The International Business of the Year
Sponsored by HSBC
WINNER: Qualifa

The Boss of the Year
Sponsored by The Argus
WINNER: Cate Searle, Martin Searle Solicitors

Best Place for Business Entertaining
Sponsored by Juice 107.2
WINNER: Sussex County Cricket Club

Sussex Company of the Year
Sponsored by Deloitte
WINNER: Marlin Financial Group Ltd

The Award for the Most Promising New Business
Sponsored by Morrisons Solicitors
WINNER: Classic Consulting

The Entrepreneur of the Year
Sponsored by Federation of Small Businesses
WINNER: Rob Hill, The Eventa Group Ltd

The Greatest Contribution to Sussex Charity
Sponsored by Absolute Brighton
WINNER: Kathy Gore, Friends of Sussex Hospices

For the full list of winners see the Argus Business Supplement on Tuesday

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