THIS year’s NatWest Dorset Venus Awards for women in business were handed out at a gala ceremony at the BIC.

More than 350 guests, including finalists and sponsors, were at the eighth awards final, held in association with Mercedes-Benz of Poole.

Ian Jones, head of regional community engagement at Bournemouth University, which sponsored the Inspirational Woman of the Year award, said: “I loved the awards. Loved being at the BIC. It was a hard choice this year as all of our finalists were incredibly exceptional.”

Bertie Coy of Smash:Club, first time sponsor of the Marketing & PR, title, said: “It has been great for us as a business. We have met incredible people along the way and got to know finalists. The connections we have made have been very helpful for our brand. It has been awesome to get behind some local people doing great things.”

Angela Piromali of Rock Recruitment Solutions, winner of the Inspirational Woman of the Year, said: “I couldn’t be more delighted, honoured and shocked. This has given me the encouragement that I need to keep going and encourage everyone to make a difference in the world.”

Aly Graham-Gage, of Beauty Rediscovered in Highcliffe, went home with two trophies – the Dutton Gregory LLP Small Business Award and the Bournemouth Collegiate School (BCS) Business Mother of the Year.

She said: “It’s been a long journey, an incredible roller coaster. Actually, it’s the best thing in my life that has happened in many, many years. But the best bit has to be meeting the BCS girls. They were tough interviewers.

“I also want to thank my four children because without them I wouldn’t have achieved these awards, especially the Business Mother of the Year. My family and I had a rough week as my mom is in intensive care. So this is for my mom!”

The winners (sponsors in brackets) were as follows.

Business Mother (Bournemouth Collegiate School): Aly Graham-Gage, Beauty Rediscovered.

Company (Enhanced): BH Live.

Customer service (Lovett): Jayne Rabone, Home Farm Enterprises.

Director (Marshall Financial Solutions): Romaine Lawson, Apple House Ltd.

Employer (Shirlaws): Helen Jamieson, Jaluch HR.

Entrepreneur (Ceuta Healthcare): Georgina Hurcombe, LoveLove Films.

HR Manager (Mploy): Amy Crabb, Agincare.

Influential Woman (Mercedes Poole): Sarah Ali Choudhury.

Inspirational Woman (Bournemouth University): Angela Piromalli, Rock Recruitment Solutions.

Inspirational Woman in Science and TechNOLOPGY (Atlas Elektronik): Dr Helen McCarthy, Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

Lifetime Achievement (Luxurycare): Samantha Everard, Samee.

Marketing & PR (SMASH:Club): Hayley O’Shea, Talbot Heath School.

Musical Talent: Jenny Oag, Jenny Oag Music.

Networker (Pure Networking): Dawn Crossingham, Dorset Growth Hub.

Small Business (Dutton Gregory Solicitors): Aly Graham-Cage, Beauty Rediscovered.