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Inverness Chamber of commerce chief to share stories of success at Highland Business Awards

By Calum MacLeod

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Inverness Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stewart Nicol. Picture: Gary Anthony.
Inverness Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stewart Nicol. Picture: Gary Anthony.

Inverness Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stewart Nicol will have a bit of catching up to to do when he introduces the Highland Business Awards for the first time since September 2019.

Since then the Highland economy, in common with the rest of the country and the world, has faced its toughest peacetime challenge in a century as the Covid-19 crisis continues to be an issue, but Mr Nicol’s message at next week’s awards ceremony at the Drumossie Hotel will be one of positivity.

One of these positive signs is the response to the awards ceremony itself.

Along with the response to the awards call – “I never cease to be amazed at the standard of entries,” said Mr Nicol – the Chamber has also been extremely encouraged by the numbers signing up to attend Thursday’s awards lunch in person, which is well on the way to achieving capacity sales for the event.

“This is our eighth business awards lunch and we have been delighted and surprised by how quickly it took off and just kept going from strength to strength,” Mr Nicol said.

“There seems to be a huge appetite to get back to in-person events.”

Given its important role in the Highland business community, Inverness Chamber of Commerce is leading by example in organising a safe and enjoyable public event, having already led the way with its summer barbecue, which was held under Covid-safe conditions,

“I think we have done that extremely appropriately and that seems to have been recognised,” Mr Nicol added.

“We want to make sure that everyone is confident and reassured by what we are doing and fortunately that seems to be the case.”

A number of changes have been introduced for this year’s awards, including a reduced in-person capacity, forgoing the usual guest speaker, and presenting the awards ahead of the lunch instead of after it as usual, in recognition of those watching online in the first hybrid Highland Business Awards event.

In his pre-awards address, Mr Nicol will acknowledge how tough the last 20 months have been for businesses, but will also look at some of the positives which have resulted from this unprecedented challenge.

This includes the support Inverness Chamber and its fellow north Chambers of Commerce were able to give not only their member businesses, but also the wider business community.

It has led to a much closer relationship between Inverness Chamber of Commerce and its Caithness and Lochaber counterparts.

“We are working together more strongly than we have ever done as Highland Chambers to support business and make sure that we are collaborating to the best effect to the benefit of the community,” he said.

“Your Chamber of Commerce is here for you, the Highland business community.

“As we go forward we are utterly committed to the success of our members and the wider community and, having seen the quality of the winners, we are enormously encouraged and hopeful for the future of Highland business.”

This year's Highland Business Awards take place from noon on Thursday, November 25.

To book a virtual ticket and check the availability of in person tickets, please visit www.inverness-chamber.co.uk/events/event/highland-business-awards-2021

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