Close to a hundred local businesses gathered at Wivenhoe House, Colchester on Wednesday 18 October to celebrate the work of the NEN member Colchester Business Enterprise Agency (Colbea) for 2016-17.

Guests included the Mayor and Mayoress of Colchester, Councillor Gerard Oxford and his wife Councillor Beverley Oxford, alongside sponsors, supporters, tenants and those businesses Colbea has supported in recent years. Among these was guest speaker Jenny Parrett from Woofs’n’Wiggles, who started her business in 2015 as one of the first delegates on Colbea’s ‘Small Steps, Big Changes’ programme. Today Jenny is an award-winning business owner, as her day care centre for dogs – Colchester’s first – flourishes in the town.

Over the 2016-17 period, Colbea delivered 1,289 business support services to local businesses, including business advice, mentoring and training and assisted in the creation of more than 70 new businesses.

Ashleigh Seymour-Rutherford, Chief Executive, welcomed guests to the event and thanked Colbea’s staff, sponsors, and patrons, saying: “We are delighted that you could join us to celebrate a year of many achievements. It is thanks to your ongoing support that we are able to support and enable local businesses right from pre-start stage, and advise them through their business growth.”

The event, centred around exhibitors stands including Colbea sponsors, tenants and supported businesses, along with free drop-in business advice stands. Following the official AGM, business advisors and sponsors gathered to announce the winners of the 2017 Colbea Business Awards.