BBEA panel members

A night of awards experts

The Lloyds Bank British Business Excellence Awards are far more than one night of sparkling trophies, and nothing proved that more than our recent night with awards experts, hosted at the exclusive Home Grown Club. 

Awards Director Sarah Austin was joined by Doona O’Toole, Founder and Managing Director of August Recognition, Daniel Priestly, CEO of Dent Global and 2021 winner of the Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines Business Enabler of the Year Award, and Declan Curry, well-known broadcaster and former business correspondent for BBC Breakfast.


The evening’s discussion focused on the benefits of awards for businesses, not just the British Business Excellence Awards but awards in general, how to make the most of your wins and what makes a fantastic entry. 

Our audience consisted of over 70 people from businesses from a range of sectors who have never entered awards before. Something that sets BBEA apart from the rest is that it celebrates British business as a whole, and as Sarah said on the night “It’s not about saying you are the best in your sector, you’ve got the stamp of approval of a national title which does mean something.”

When it came to the Q&A section of the night, questions were raised around how to set yourself apart from other entrants and finalists, something Declan Curry summed up perfectly by saying, “Be ambitious. If you are not ambitious about your business, then nobody else will be.”

A large theme from the night was that it isn’t just about winning, but the process of being part of an awards programme, such as BBEA, is a chance for growth and development too. Daniel Priestly discussed his experiences of going through this exact process perfectly: “Forcing yourself to find the data, forcing yourself to find the stories, is incredibly valuable even if you didn’t win the award.”

For those in the room who needed an extra incentive to consider entering the Lloyds Bank British Business Excellence Awards this year, Sarah summed up what they could expect from the life-changing experience by saying: “We have an application form that you fill in online and then that is surveyed by our shortlisting panel. We then invite you here [Home Grown Club] to see the whites of your eyes, where you will present to our lovely panel of judges which gives you, as business owners, a moment to step back from your business and talk about what you have done and what is award-winning, which empowers businesses to realise what they did last year is actually really impressive!”

Sarah concluded this discussion by reminding everyone that the other part of the BBEAs is the networking opportunities available to everyone who enters, not just those selected as finalists and winners. 


With all of our panelists having strong ties to the awards, from previous winners to judges across several awards for the past three years, this collective experience made them best placed to answer our audience’s questions and set them on the best footing to get the most out of not only the British Business Excellence Awards but any awards they choose to enter.

  • For businesses who have never applied for or entered an award, how would you advise them to start that process?  You are being judged on what you can communicate. Your ability to communicate is not going to make a difference. I [Donna] would say, with probably about 50% of the entries I read either shouldn’t be in the award or in the category. So, first of all, it is about making the right selection of category and understanding what your strengths are objectively. You then need to have the ability to communicate that.  Not every founder or CEO works in communications so utilising internal or external marketing teams or companies like August Recognition can help you get across what you are doing on paper. 
  • When you look at impact are you looking at the pros or the human impact? 100% both. Quantitive impact is what you are measuring, for example you have reduced costs or saved your customers’ costs or time in some way. But then it is human impact too. What is the actual difference you are making in the world, for an actual person or within a community? The entries and companies that really stand out don’t just know how to measure it, they actually care about what change they are making in the world and they can talk about it with real-life stories.
  • Does the consumer know any difference between a smaller local or industry award compared to the prestige of the Lloyds Bank British Business Excellence Awards when they see it on your website? We are going to say this but having the British Business stamp of approval and the Lloyds Bank stamp of approval really does count for something. We are considered alongside the King’s Awards, that is the calibre that you get. And yes, you can of course enter an award for your sector, there are some very reputable awards out there for you to win and say you are the best in your sector. But once you get the stamp of approval from a national title, then it does mean something.