Oh, what a night!

I’m Charley, volunteer at Harrogate Community Radio, full-time Marketing Manager at The Stray Ferret and part time DM at Harrogate Theatre.

Yes. It’s a busy life, and as part of the Stray Ferret team I had the privilege to be behind the scenes at this year’s Stray Ferret Business Awards.

Now, you maybe thinking…but surely you would know who the winners were? And you would be right, but with the powers of secrecy and professionalism, I never let this slip.

We arrived on Thursday morning, fresh faced and hopeful at the Pavilions of Harrogate. First job – Goody bags. 370 of them.

A crack squad was assembled, bags opened, and precious trinkets popped into each bag, pens, keyrings, thingies and notepads, all branded from our sponsors. After 1 hour we had managed to fill 120 bags!

I noticed it is incredibly warm in these rooms, even with windows and doors open, I’m sweating – out of my face. I ask one of the Pavilion staff if there is a shower on site. He thinks for a moment, “No not in here, the only showers we have are outside for the Yorkshire Show Cattle, but they are switched off in winter”. I literally don’t care at this point, and genuinely considering using the hosepipe I’ve just found outside.

The Stray Ferret Business Awards 2024

Whilst the second round of goody bag production is underway, the lovely Balloon lady was creating coloured masterpieces in both the drinks reception room and the dining/awards room. Famous business faces were popping up all around the venue, Richard Brandson, and Leo Paphetis. This all added to the ambiance of the Business awards.

Lunch break – very important, get your energy up for round two. Jacket Potato, Cheese and Beans from big Sainsburys. Nice.

For me, the afternoon was filled with tech stuff and numerous run throughs of the awards presentation with our fantastic MC Claire Frisby from the BBC. Although my job was ultimately pressing a button numerous times, it had to be on queue, it had to be tight and other elements such as lighting, sound and music had to be included.

Great! The laptop we’re working on has gone onto the windows update circle of doom. Slowly people around me start having minor melt downs – I’m as cool as a cucumber. Its just a windows update. We will be fine.

Suddenly its 5pm. Guests are arriving at 6pm, so it’s time to transform into a glamourous award person. Thank goodness it’s only taken me 6 hours to cool down. I feel a bit rushed and would have liked a bit more time to get the construction wear on under my dress, and not get so flustered about what shoes to wear.

Back to the awards room for one final practice and then in come the guests. Wowed by the size of the room, and the glitz and glamour of the decor.

The Stray Ferret Business Awards 2024

Claire Frisby starts the night off introducing the sponsors, the owner of the Stray Ferret – Tamsin O’Brien and the order of the night. Then it’s time for dinner, I was lucky to be on a table with Simon from Starling, Stuart from Harrogate Tipple and Alistair from Horticap. I then managed to find Paul from Apero Time and introduce myself finally, we had a lovely chat and he had questions about going up on stage, that’s if they were winners! I prepped him as best I could.

After a delicious meal, it was time to get down to the nitty gritty.

Best Use of Digital was the category Harrogate Community Radio had entered. The other finalists were Harvey George, Show and Tell, Ake & Humphris and Provenance Hotel Group.

Tension in the room – Harvey George was announced…but…no one realised there was another winner because the room was going crazy – and that was Harrogate Community Radio!!!

The Stray Ferret Business Awards 2024

Paul and Graham stepped up, shocked they had won, the judges clapped and smiled, the room went wild. A great accolade for the community run radio station.

I was super proud, and on the other end of WhatsApp, Andrew, Scooby, Allan, Jack and Simon were texting “What’s Happened? Did we Win?”

I let them know the brilliant news, then a flood of different drink images came through, as everyone celebrated at home or in the pub. A great moment!



I’m Charley, volunteer at Harrogate Community Radio, full-time Marketing Manager at The Stray Ferret and part time DM at Harrogate Theatre. Yes, it’s a busy life.

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