From 200 nominations, 32 finalists were selected and honoured Thursday evening (May 25) at Hazelmere Golf & Tennis Club, as the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce presented its 24th annual Business Excellence Awards.
And from those 32 finalists, 11 winners were announced in 10 categories.
If the math seems a bit off, that’s because a pair of nominees will share the title of Community Builder of the Year for the next 12 months.
Sources’ Denise Darrell and Mostafa Sabeti of Golden Glory Martial Arts Academy were selected by judges as dual honorees in the final category presented at the annual celebration of local businesses, which was hosted by Global BC’s chief meteorologist and South Surrey resident Mark Madryga.
After working tirelessly for those in vulnerable situations for over 35 years, Darrell, whose birthday was also celebrated at the gala with a song and cake, will retire later this year.
In accepting the award, Darrell, who is both a Rotarian and Soroptimist, took the opportunity to underscore the importance of compassion and involvement in building a strong community.
“Community building is all about connecting – building a resilient community that can support families, that can grow healthy neighbourhoods,” she said.
“We know that the well being of children – of families – is directly impacted by whether they live in a strong, inclusive, diverse and supportive community.
“It is our privilege as a community, to use our privilege to strengthen the resistance of all people, including those that don’t have a voice … I encourage all of you to get engaged with community.
“Let’s build a community where every person has a chance to succeed.”
During his remarks, Sabeti, who in 2019 was named coach and manager of Wushu Canada’s national team, placed the focus on the accomplishments of the kids who train at his facility, noting they recently brought home six gold medals from a national competition as well as – for the first time in Canada’s history – earned a bronze medal at world championships.
Nine other businesses and individuals were also singled out for their business acumen, resilience and community spirit during the course of the evening.
Business of the Year: Small honours went to The UPS Store 445. Also nominated in this category were DC Krew Hair Company and Grounds & Greens Café
Business of the Year: Medium is Afghan Kitchen, which was nominated alongside Coldwell Banker Marquise Realty and South Surrey Chiropractic and Wellness.
In accepting the award, general manager Zabi Sarwari acknowledged his home country’s turbulent history and said “We strive to serve the community and represent our culture here in South Surrey as well as in Canada as much as we can.
“My family was quite busy, so no one was able to make it,” said Sarwari. “But everyone here is family.”
Business of the Year: Large went to The Hills at Portal Golf Club. Also nominated were Chartwell Crescent Gardens and The Boathouse White Rock.
The title of New Business of the Year was claimed by Safe Sweat, a fledgling South Surrey venture which will be featured on CBC’s Dragons’ Den later this year.
“Last year when we announced we were doing Safe Sweat, the world called us crazy,” said Emre Ozgur.
“This past weekend, we filmed for Dragons’ Den.”
Also nominated in the New Business category were Leon’s Cafe, South Surrey Kids Physio and Stubble The Body Bar.
Business of the Year: Supporter of the Arts went to Hilarapy.
Representing the business, which combines laughter with healing, Elaine Cheung explained that her partner and co-founder Lizzie Allan couldn’t be there accept the award because she was performing as a headliner on the first night of the White Rock Comedy and Buskers Festival.
“If she was here, we wouldn’t be a very good supporter of the arts, would we?” quipped Cheung.
Also nominated in the category were GS & Company, Ignite Dance Center and Surrey Youth Theatre Company.
This year’s Business Leader of the Year: Corporate is Heather Martin of Comfort Keepers.
Lesley Noland of Starline Windows and Neil Yarmoshuk of CIBC Wood Gundy were also nomintated.
Honours for Business Leader of the Year: Self-Owned went to Erin Anderson of KA Creative.
Other nominees were Adam Smith of Uptown Business Machines Inc. and Susan Peach, Advantum Financial Solutions.
Josiah Tam of Allora! Pasta + Wine was named Business Leader of the Year: U40
Also selected as finalists for the award were Inder Kullar, Amplifon Hearing Clinic; Jason Bell, Genuine Athletics and; Dr. Monica Michel, SOMA MD.
Finally, in the category of Non-Profit Organization of the Year, Rotary Club of White Rock was selected from a field of nominees that also included Alex House and Brella Community Services Society.