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Clink! It’s the Muddy Awards drinks…

You did it, they did it, we all did it! We all voted for our favourite local businesses in Essex, and after a fierce competition, it was time to celebrate. Pop the cork and cue the gin cocktails!

Our 2021 Essex Muddy Stilettos Awards winners gathered together for an evening of celebration at Wivenhoe House this week. Located just a few miles from Colchester and set in the beautiful grounds of Wivenhoe Park, this 18th century house is quite possibly one of my favourite hotels in Essex (and I have a seriously long list). With old-time glamour and elegant lounges overlooking a restored sunken lawn, it’s pure period luxury.

But it’s the team behind the hotel that I have an even softer spot for – they couldn’t do enough to make sure our Muddy Awards drinks went smoothly… “You’d like to move the party outside now as it’s sunny? No problem. Whisk up killer gin cocktails? Allow us…”

As for the party itself, it was a blast from start to finish. After all, getting to meet the inspirational, creative people behind brilliant local businesses is right at the heart of Muddy and we really do love it.

Running a business requires great effort and to make it a successful one that brightens up our daily lives, adding to our community, is no mean feat (particularly after the last 18 months). So it’s an honour to be able to celebrate this on behalf of hard-working business owners across Essex.

And these winning businesses should feel proud. ALL the finalists were a hugely talented bunch, and the battle to reach the finals was bonkers. So to then win is an incredible achievement, with hundreds and hundreds of businesses nominated from all corners of the county, from teeny-tiny villages, to our bigger towns.

What’s better than winning a Muddy Award? Your bezzie scooping one too! Jade of Dainty London Jewellery with her good pal, Elisha, of Olivia & Gray.

But without you lovely readers there would be no party and no awards, so it’s a big heartfelt THANK YOU from me, Katie and the rest of the Muddy team for taking your time to vote and give your local favourites a pat on the back. You’ve really shown how in love with local you are. Your support means everything to them.

Best Interiors Store winner, Kate, and Best Fitness Instructor, Amy-Jo, are just two of four Muddy Award Winners in Thaxted. Must get me some of that water…

We all enjoyed a glass (or three) of something chilled and bubbly, thanks to Wivenhoe House, who donated drinks and delish canapes for the night. There were also more than a few gorgeous gin cocktails indulged in, thanks to generous local indies, Charles & Mike Distilling and MoozeBooze. Cheers, guys!

One final thank you to our photographer Florence Geary for capturing shots of all our lovely winners. She, and her sister Harriet, gave up their time for free to photograph our awards, which was incredible.

L-R: Katie and myself ‘researching’ the gin cocktails with Florence and Harriet

I just want to take the opportunity once more to say a massive CONGRATS to everyone who found themselves nominated, a finalist and eventually a winner.

The warmth, friendliness and camaraderie at the drinks really hit home to me how much talent, character and good-feeling there is here in Essex. I’m not sure my blithering speech did you justice, but the sentiment is definitely there!

Winners from top left, clockwise: Best… Jeweller: Dainty London Jewellery; Florist: Scent; Book Shop: Hart’s Books; Restaurant: Square 1 Restaurant; Hair Salon: The Wild Hare; Fitness Instructor: Amy-Jo Simpson; Food / Drink Producer: The Saffron Ice Cream Company.

Here are some pics of our amazing winners, clutching their certificates (we even gave them window stickers too – the lucky sausages…) What a glamorous, joyous group of individuals they all are.

Winners from top left, clockwise: Best… Interiors Store: Vintage Style Living; Boutique Stay: Maison Talbooth; Art Gallery: Hayletts Gallery; Women’s Fashion: Olivia & Gray; Theatre / Art Venue: Mercury Theatre; New Business Covid Start-Up: Lemonpeel London; Photographer: Ralu Chase Photography.

It’s all over now for another year, but we’ll see you in 2022 for the 6th year of the Awards. Until then, huge congrats to the Muddy Awards Winners 2021!

Katie and I enjoying a final (honest it was) nightcap after a thoroughly fun night with Essex’s finest. Keep doing what you’re doing – you’re brilliant!

Our wonderful winners! Say hello to the BEST…

ART GALLERY: Hayletts Gallery (Maldon)
BAR: Corner Club (Leigh on Sea)
BEAUTY SALON: Beauty at the Bay (Colchester)
BOOKSHOP: Hart’s Books (Saffron Walden)
BOUTIQUE STAY: Maison Talbooth (Dedham)
BRIDAL STORE: Rock the Frock Preloved Essex (Rawreth)
CAFÉ: Café Cou Cou (Saffron Walden)
CHILDREN’S BUSINESS: Mr Wolf Kids (Leigh on Sea)
DAY SPA: Lifehouse Spa (Thorpe Le Soken)
DESTINATION PUB: The Hoop (Stock)
FAMILY ATTRACTION: Colchester Zoo (Colchester)
FARMSHOP / DELI: Abigail’s Delicatessen (Ingatestone)
FITNESS INSTRUCTOR: Amy-Jo Simpson (Thaxted)
FLORIST: Scent (Leigh on Sea)
FOOD / DRINK PRODUCER: The Saffron Ice Cream Company
(Saffron Walden)
GIFT SHOP: Gifted (Thaxted)
GARDEN DESIGNER: The Garden Girls Essex (Witham)
HAIR SALON: The Wild Hare (Westcliff on Sea)
INTERIORS STORE: Vintage Style Living (Thaxted)
JEWELLER: Dainty London Jewellery (Chelmsford)
PHOTOGRAPHER: Ralu Chase Photography (Colchester)
RESTAURANT: Square 1 Restaurant (Dunmow)
NEW BUSINESS COVID START UP: Lemonpeel London (Uttlesford)
THEATRE / ART VENUE: Mercury Theatre (Colchester)
WEDDING VENUE: Apton Hall (Rochford)
WOMEN’S FASHION: Olivia & Gray (Chelmsford)
YOGA / PILATES STUDIO: Thaxted Yoga (Thaxted)

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