The achievements of businesses across Ilford were celebrated at an awards ceremony.

The Ilford Business Improvement District (BID) held the Ilford Business Awards, supported by the Recorder, at Coliseum Suite on Ilford High Road last night (Thursday, December 1).

A total of 16 awards were dished out over the course of the night, ranging from best beauty business of the year and to best customer service and employer of the year.

There was also a newly-created special award for women's safety in memory of murdered law graduate Zara Aleena.

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The evening saw Golden Barbers, a barber service that opened in 2018, take home the Redbridge Business of the Year award.

Ilford Recorder: Golden Barbers with leader of the council Cllr Jas AthwalGolden Barbers with leader of the council Cllr Jas Athwal (Image: Paul Fox Photography)

City Gates Conference Centre, which offers facilities and meeting rooms for conferences, came away as the Ilford Business of the Year.

Manager Anthony Lindsey said: "It's an amazing privilege. We work really hard and there's a lot of fantastic businesses in Ilford so it be nominated was amazing and to win out of all these businesses was just mindblowing. 

"We didn't expect to win - we didn't even expect to get nominated!"

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Tight Fit Jeans was the night's biggest winner, being awarded best fashion business of the year and best legacy business. 

"It's an amazing feeling," Atul Shah and Max Shah, owners of the business, told the Recorder.

"What is amazing is that on every table we went to [tonight], everybody was a customers, on our table there were customers, the councillors are customers. From generations back as well so their children are customers as well. 

"It's a great feeling to have that history. It was a great surprise to win."

Ilford Recorder: Tight Fit Jeans was presented with the Legacy Award by sponsor Ilford BIDTight Fit Jeans was presented with the Legacy Award by sponsor Ilford BID (Image: Paul Fox Photography)

Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal said: "Local businesses are the heart of the community and [we are] celebrating them, especially since they've come through hard times. 

"They know that they've got support and ... they know that collectively we will come through this together. 

"Each of these businesses brings so much character to the place but it's the opportunity that is really important at the moment. 

"Supporting them now means that they can actually thrive and take part and go away and deliver properly."

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The best beauty business award went to Beauty at Anju's. 

Owner Anju Nawaz said: "It's a great achievement. It's so nice to be recognised for our daily hard work and the dedication that we put into our business."

Ilford Recorder: Beauty at Anju's was handed their award by sponsor HSBCBeauty at Anju's was handed their award by sponsor HSBC (Image: Paul Fox Photography)

A new award was also created, The Beacon, and delivered last. It has been created in honour of Zara Aleena, a law graduate who was killed while she was walking home in Ilford

The Beacon is a legacy award that will be awarded to the business that best works to improve women's safety in the workplace. It was presented this year to Zara's aunt and uncle, Samira Naz and Kasim Ali.

Ilford Recorder: Leader of the Council Cllr Jas Athwal handing The Beacon award to Zara Aleena's auntLeader of the Council Cllr Jas Athwal handing The Beacon award to Zara Aleena's aunt (Image: Paul Fox Photography)

Sam Tarry, Labour MP for Ilford South, and Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North, also attended the ceremony.

Mr Streeting said: "I really feel that Ilford's on the up. Lots of us who have lived in the borough for decades remember when Ilford was the place to go across east London and certainly the biggest destination for people living in the borough...

"One of the great things about the business awards is we're celebrating a town centre that is on the up. We're celebrating businesses that have come through the tough times of the pandemic, of brexit, of the recession and are the beating heart of the community.

"I think Ilford's on the up and I'm really excited about its future. I think the businesses that are building it should be so proud of the contribution they're making to the borough."

Full winners:

Best Beauty Business of the Year: Beauty at Anju's 

Best Fashion Business of the Year: Tight Fit Jeans

Best Finance Sector Business of the Year: Metro Bank

Best Hospitality Business of the Year: The Great Spoon of Ilford

Best in Customer Service: Salma's Hair Studio

Best Media Business of the Year: DigiPix Ilford

Best New Business: The Connaught

Best Retail Business of the Year: Massi's Kitchen

Best Sustainable Transition Business: TSB Bank Ilford

Best Legacy Business: Tight Fit Jeans

Employer of the Year: Barney Bear's Nursery

Ilford Business of the Year: City Gates Conference Centre

Independent Business of the Year: Art of Chaat

Large Business of the Year: Exchange Ilford

Redbridge Business of the Year: Golden Barbers