Business Charity Awards: A night of prizes and surprises

Third Sector's annual awards celebrated the contribution made to the charity sector by the business community - not to mention the host's distinctly uncorporate dress code. Sam Burne James was a witness

Host Will Gompertz (centre) with winners of the Business of the Year, Greggs
Host Will Gompertz (centre) with winners of the Business of the Year, Greggs

The guests who gathered in London recently for the sixth edition of the Third Sector Business Charity Awards might have wondered quite what they had let themselves in for when Will Gompertz, arts editor of the BBC and host for the evening, took to the stage in black-tie finery only to toss aside his bow tie and unbutton his dress shirt.

There was amusement – and some relief – when he revealed a second, rather jazzier floral number underneath that he declared to be from Liberty. "There's a fine line between wearing a cool shirt and looking like a dick - but I think I'm just on the right side," the self-deprecating broadcaster joked.

The stripped-down host then regaled the socially minded businesses and entrepreneurial charities in attendance with tales of being half-recognised in the street and being mistaken - with surprising frequency - for someone else. He related how a whole package tour party once serenaded him with Happy Birthday – or, rather, sang "Happy Birthday to Andrew Marr".

On to the awards themselves, and there was no mistaking the voice from above that read through the shortlists: the dulcet tones par excellence of Alan Dedicoat, the Lotto's "voice of the balls". One name that Dedicoat and Gompertz came back to several times was the Alzheimer's Society: four categories were won by businesses that had been working with the Alzheimer's charity or its Scottish and Irish counterparts.

Another memorable winner was Clare Francis, an editor of the website MoneySuperMarket, who was inspired – and persuaded others – to raise money for the mental health charity Mind after her husband took his own life in 2011. She won the Outstanding Employee category.

The last of the 17 awards presented on the night was for Business of the Year, sponsored by Experian, which went to the bakery retailer Greggs. "My children will be delighted with that award," said the host. The Gompertz clan, and Greggs appreciators everywhere, will now have more to admire than just the sausage rolls.

For their 2015 ceremony, the BCAs moved to the glamorous City venue The Brewery, in the heart of UK plc and a stone's throw from the offices of several BCA-winning firms, all of whom have taken charity to their heart. Introducing the evening, Stephen Cook, editor of Third Sector, had reflected on the mutually beneficial opportunities for business to collaborate with charities, and the pressing need for this in the climate of public spending cuts.

"If the big society means anything, it means that others should step forward and do more – and that includes businesses," Cook said, urging those in the room to spread the gospel. "Let's get the word out to the rest of the business world and persuade them to play their part."


Business Charity Champion: David Morley, Allen & Overy LLP

Business of the Year: Greggs

Cause-Related Marketing: Pampers with Unicef: 1 Pack = 1 Vaccine campaign

Challenge Event: Yorkshire Building Society with Marie Curie: Hour of Need

Charity Partnership: Slimming World with Cancer Research UK

Charity Partnership (Financial and Professional): Lloyds Banking Group with the Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer Scotland

Charity Partnership (Retail and Leisure): Home Retail Group with the Alzheimer's Society, Alzheimer Scotland and the Alzheimer Society of Ireland

Charity Partnership (Small Businesses): Crabtree Property Group with the Lullaby Trust

Charity Partnership (Short-term): EDF Energy with the British Science Association

Community Impact (Local): Investec with the Bromley by Bow Centre

Community Impact (National): Royal Mail Group with Missing People

Corporate Foundation: Support Adoption For Pets

CSR Team: Amey (Hampshire)

Employee Engagement: Lloyds Banking Group

Employment Scheme: London Luton Airport with the Prince's Trust

Outstanding Employee: Clare Francis, MoneySuperMarket

Single Project: Societe Generale with the Alzheimer's Society – Creating a Dementia-Friendly Company

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