Merton Best Business Awards has announced its finalists in the build up to its awards ceremony on 1 December.
The MBBAs were cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, so these awards will recognise local businesses that stepped up and have shown resilience over the past two years.
Now in its ninth year, it has new categories such as the ‘Team Spirit’ award, the ‘Leader of the Year’ award and the ‘Best for Innovation and Customer Focus’ award.
CEO of Merton Chamber of Commerce, Diana Sterck, said: “The Judges were blown away by the stories of courage, resilience and kindness that they read, and it was harder than ever to whittle down a shortlist.
“Every Merton business should feel exceptionally proud of their journey over the past couple of years and we are looking forward to celebrating at our gala awards ceremony next month.”
The judging panel, which is made up of representatives from local businesses, received over 180 applications.
Members of the public were also given the opportunity to join the judging process and vote for their favourite local business heroes.
Swords Travel, which has previously won Best Small Business and Best New Business has been selected as a finalist for both Entrepreneur of the year and Independent Retailer Award.
Mark Swords founded the business on his own five years ago, after working in the travel industry for nearly two decades.
Mark said: “The last months have been so tough, it’s nice to have some positive news”
During the pandemic, the team of 12 took the initiative to work on their website and create inspirational window displays.
They even turned their shop into a COVID testing site, proving their ability to completely adapt to the pandemic.
Sustainable Merton, a charity founded in 2007, which aims to inspire local people to live a more sustainable lifestyle, has been selected as a finalist for the Breakthrough Charity award.
Ellie Smallshaw, the charity’s projects and campaigns coordinator, said: “As a charity we are really proud and pleased that we have been selected.”
The charity launched its Merton community fridge in May 2020 in an effort to help reduce both food waste and food poverty in the area, which helped to bring the community together during the pandemic.
It recovered food from local businesses, supermarkets and its own allotment and orchard, and offered parcels of fresh and nutritious food to anyone who requested it.
Ellie said that it became a valued social hub and since May 2020 there have been 2416 visitors of the fridge, including 224 unique families.
Sustainable Merton wanted to support its community, which is why it focused on food and gardening, making sure people were learning how to grow their own food and ultimately reduce food waste.
Wimbledon Guild, a community charity working to provide a hand up to Merton residents, reduces social isolation, helps people experiencing difficulties and enables older people to be active and healthy, has also been nominated for the Breakthrough Charity award.
Wendy Pridmore, the CEO, said: “It’s the real kind of recognition for the staff and families that is deserved.”
She said that the charity is rooted within the Merton community, and they have worked with Merton residents for more than 100 years.
Wendy said that they normally work with about 2000 people a year, but the pandemic saw that figure double to 4000.
She said: “Online working didn’t come naturally, but within a week we were delivering successful remote services.
“I am so proud of how everyone here adapted.”
In 2020, Wimbledon Guild developed a shopping service to help vulnerable people when they were isolating, and a COVID hotline with Merton council for community hub.
These awards will honour all the local businesses that stepped up for their community during a time of need, and regardless of the outcome, each business deserves celebration and a successful future.