THOUSANDS of people have seen their lives and careers boosted during more than two decades of the Dorset Business Awards, finalists were told.

Those in the running for prizes were invited to a Meet the Finalists event at the Sandbanks Hotel.

David McNair, president of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), which organises the event, said his business Nuffield Health had been a sponsor for eight years.

“In that time we have seen so many fabulous businesses. What we’ve tried to do is put a lot of effort into coming out and seeing the businesses, because we really think that makes a difference. We’ve seen something in excess of 80 businesses in eight years,” he said.

“From small, family-run businesses to multinationals, it’s really good to see how these are thriving in Dorset.”

The awards were started in 1994. “During those two decades the awards have influenced the lives and careers of thousands of people across Dorset,” said Mr McNair.

DCCI chief executive Ian Girling said: “Every year we never fail to be amazed by the fantastic businesses that we have across the whole of Dorset. We have some amazing business across the whole of the county. So often Dorset is overlooked, seen as a place to come and retire and not much goes on.

“Quite often you’ll find and amazing business that no one’s heard of before, quite often operating on a global level.

“We had 133 entries this year and the standards of entry was fantastic. We’ve down to the final 33. All of you here should be really proud of what you’ve achieved.”

Warren Munson, director of Inspire Professional Services, which sponsored the Meet the Finalists evening, said: “It’s a fantastic achievement to be a finalist.

“It’s such a diverse mix of businesses and industries that are represented. Talking to a few people here this evening, it’s great to see geographical coverage as well. It proves Dorset has got a really vibrant and successful economy.”

He said there was a strong entrepreneurial culture in the county. “That’s one of the great things that makes Dorset a great place to do business and to run a business,” he added.

The winners of the awards – which are backed by the Daily Echo and Dorset Echo – will be announced at an ice kingdom-themed gala dinner at the BIC on Thursday, November 24.