I was pleased to be a judge at the London Loves Excellence Awards Gala Dinner at the London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square last Tuesday evening which was oversubscribed with every table sold weeks ago and the presence of many of the UKs top entrepreneurs and business people including my fellow judges, Karren Brady, Tim Campbell MBE, Charlie Mullins, Mike Bokaie, Kelly Hoppen MBE, Michelle Mone OBE & of course Willie Walsh who is Chairman of the holding company of British Airways & who was also chairman of our voting group back in April.

Compared by BBC presenter Katie Derham who was very ably assisted by Sophie Hobson editor of London Loves Business, other guests included Theo Paphitis former Dragons Den panellist who presented various awards.

Winners included John Griffin of Addison Lee, who sold out recently for £300M, after building his London Cab business from one man and a car over 30 years ago, and Charlie Mullins of Pimlico Plumbers who runs London’s best known ( & in my opinion best.) plumbing company. John Graciously donated £50,000 to the blind on the night and told us all how he had just bought over 100 miles of South American Coastline as well as a £21M house in Regents Park which I understand he moves into today so good luck with the move John.


Often controversial and not a universal choice which resulted in over an hour of heated discussion amongst us judges back in April, I just felt that the lifetime award had to go to John because starting any business from scratch and building it over 30 plus years, employing thousands of people and then selling out for hundreds of millions is surely what it is all about and the dream of most young entrepreneurs which is why I argued strongly in Johns favour despite having a very high regard for Charlie and the ethics and approach he has to both employee and customer relations.

I voted for John & Charlie in different categories who both epitomise the spirit of being an entrepreneur in building their businesses from scratch, through booms and recessions, and often growing against the odds.


I sat next to Lord Noon on the joint top table who was delightful company and still full of interest in business and intellectual pursuits despite being well into his late 70s. A man of culture and regard for his fellow human being and originally from Mumbai Lord Noon was known as the curry king due to his company, Noon Products Ltd selling huge amounts of chilled and frozen ready meals to UK Supermarkets. A committed Muslim, Lord Noon has spoken out against radical imams after being one of those trapped in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel by terrorists during the 2008 Mumbai attacks. I hope to carry on our conversation over lunch in the not to distant future as I found his attitude to business & life refreshing.

All in all it was a great night enjoyed with some good friends, old and new. I was very pleased to see Clare Harris there from the British Library Business & IP Centre. Clare’s vision and dedication to the job the BL is doing to expand its activities into the business community is legendary and worthy of an award itself.

I look forward to next year and would advise booking your table early as this is will become the UKs business event of the year so well done to the organisers who did a superb job of pulling it all together.

One Comment

  • Matt Collings

    28th June 2013 at 12:20 pm

    It sounds like a great night Stephen and one I see myself attending in the future. I have to agree with your comments re: Charlie & John. It was so refreshing to hear Charlie’s simple business model in a recent episode of the BBC2’s Peter Jones Meets. I really can relate to his journey through life and business.
    I spend a lot of time at LHR Airport in one of my jobs and Addison Lee cars are a permanent fixture. Recently it’s become obvious John is no longer at the helm of the business. The vehicles aren’t as spotlessly clean as they used to be. Speed limits around the airport and surrounding roads are not adhered to and the drivers are not as courteous as they always were. Little things, but in my opinion huge things have changed since his exit. Good luck to him in whatever the future hold…


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