Anita Bhalla OBE named ‘Brummie of the Year’ at the 5th Birmingham Awards

One Room, One City, One Love

On Saturday 9th November the Library of Birmingham was sparkling with red & blue – the brand colours of Birmingham Awards.

This was the 5th Birmingham Awards and the organisers felt such a milestone should be marked by celebrating in one of Birmingham most iconic buildings the Library of Birmingham.

The logistics involved to transform a place of reading and learning to a place of recognition and celebration in just under two hours felt almost impossible to comprehend but the organisers Ifraz Ahmed & Anita Chumber succeeded to deliver a magnificent evening of celebrations.

The night kicked off with a sparkling drinks reception hosted by Bottega Birmingham, in the Rotunda of the library.

5 years ago, the organisers set out with a vision to create a platform to bring together the various sectors of the city to collectively celebrate and further unite Birmingham to allow for a dialogue of opportunity and growth.  The organisers were proud to see so many new organisations and individuals which is a testament to their original vision.

The founders Ifraz and Anita said the following:

Anita said: “We created the awards because we believe that a city of ambitious, vibrant & inspirational people & organisations needs a platform to highlight & celebrate the incredible work being done.”

Ifraz said: “We are passionate about ensuring that we all come together collectively to celebrate each other. We want to identify & acknowledge the unsung hero, using their stories to inspire others to do the same. Recognition, support, collaboration & celebration are key to our city & region to grow & prosper.”

Hosted by Heart FM’s Ed James who did a magnificent job of keeping the evening proceedings in order with plenty of entertainment.

Keynote speaker was Midlands Metro Mayor, Andy Street with an engaging and inspiring opening speech heaping praise on the city and saying “the future of Birmingham has never looked so optimistic”.

Live entertainment on the night was provided by Aston Performing Arts Academy who had the whole room on their feet.  No matter how many times you may have seen them perform, it always feels like the first time, they are an amazing act and know how to energise a room.

There was a nice touch when an impromptu pause saw the Birmingham Awards team bring out a cake for one of Birmingham’s most loved individuals, Steve Brittan to congratulate him and his wife Cindy on their 50th Wedding Anniversary, which was well received with applause and a standing ovation.

This year’s Brummie of the year was awarded to chair of Town Hall & Symphony Hall, Anita Bhalla OBE who has transformed Birmingham and beyond.

The lifetime Achievement award was awarded to UK’s first lady of soul Jaki Graham who said “Thank you so much for my Lifetime Achievement award!  To get this recognition from my very own hometown makes this that much more special!  It makes me proud to be a Brummie.  Congratulations to all the well deserved winners”.

Finally, Birmingham Awards would like to thank the headline sponsor Love Your Postcode. Supporting sponsors Bootcamp Media, F5 Foster Care, Falcon Insurance, Heylus Recruitment, Oxbridge, Squibble, Thorns Group and United Carpets.


Drinks sponsors Bottega Prosecco Bar and Swallow Drinks.

Supporting partners Asaysi, Baked in Brick, Glimpse, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Hollywood Monster, Purely, Subway, Town Hall Symphony Hall, Vibrant Networks and Unique Venues Birmingham.

Media partners Dluxe Magazine, Birmingham Updates and PR Partner It Is PR.

A big thanks to the generous donations to help raise money for the charity partner Love Brum.

We’ll look forward to what Birmingham Awards brings to us next year.

Check out all the photos from the big night:

Pictures by Jas Sansi
Picture by Mr Ladd Media

Big winners from the night

ARTS & CULTURE AWARD - Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) - PRESENTED BY Dluxe Magazine


SOCIAL ENTERPRISE OF THE YEAR - Evolve Birmingham - SPONSORED BY Love Your Postcode


CONTRIBUTION TO EDUCATION - Sarah Mullin (Priory School) - SPONSORED BY Oxbridge




BAR/PUB OF THE YEAR - Hotel du Vid Birmingham - SPONSORED BY  Falcon Insurance


BUSINESS OF THE YEAR - Unique IQ Ltd - SPONSORED BY Falcon Insurance






RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR - Chung Ying Cantonese Restaurant - SPONSORED BY Bootcamp Media


SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR - Trimz and Tantrumz Children's Salon - SPONSORED BY Bootcamp Media


PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR - Stephanie Taylor - SPONSORED BY Heylus Recruitment


VENUE OF THE YEAR - Holte Suite-Aston Villa - SPONSORED BY Love Your Postcode


BUSINESS MAN OF THE YEAR - Stacey Barnfield - SPONSORED BY Love Your Postcode


BUSINESS WOMAN OF THE YEAR - Natalie Taylor-Herrick - SPONSORED BY F5 Fostercare


JUDGES AWARD - Hailey Hanson - PRESENTED BY All the Judges






BEST SHOPPING EXPERIENCE - Touchwood Shopping Centre - SPONSORED BY Bottega Prosecco Bar


INDEPENDENT RETAILER OF THE YEAR - Chouchoute Chocolaterie - SPONSORED BY United Carpets




BRUMMIE OF THE YEAR - Anita Bhalla OBE - PRESENTED BY Ifraz Ahmed & Anita Chumber (AWARD FOUNDERS)


LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD - Jaki Graham (Award Collected by Jaki's daughter, Natalie)

Shortlist 2019

Winners will be announced at the prestigious awards dinner on Saturday 9th November 2019 at the Library of Birmingham.

Good luck to all the finalists that have made this year’s shortlist.


Have a look at who are this year’s finalists:


Restaurant of the Year

Akram's Kashmiri Restaurant



Chung Ying Cantonese


Jojolapa Nepalese Bar & Kitchen

The Butchers Social

The Ivy


Bar/Pub of the Year


Hotel Du Vin Birmingham


Revolucion De Cuba

The Alchemist

The Old Crown

The Old Dispensary

The Sun on the Hill


Best Shopping Experience of the Year

Bullring/Grand Central

Great Western Arcade

New Square

Resorts World

The Fort



Independent Retailer of the Year

Butcher's Block

Chouchoute Chocolaterie

Goodlife Barbershop





The Workshop Below


Arts & Culture Award of the Year

Aston Performing Arts Academy

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery


Midlands Arts Centre

School of Theatre Excellence

The Alexandra

The Old Rep Theatre

Town Hall Symphony Hall


Business of the Year

Barker Bretell LLP

Cameron Price

Gemini Professional Financial Group

Gleeson Recruitment

Metro Bank


SDL Auctions

Unique IQ Ltd


Small Business of the Year

Ark Media Productions

HT Brigham

Kang & Co Solicitors

Morgan Parkes

Talent Hive

Taylor Herrick Recruitment

Trimz & Tantrumz Children’s Salon

Urban Training Health


Community Initiative/Charity/Volunteer of the Year

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice

Females of Empowerment CIC

John Taylor Hospice

Let’s Feed Brum

New Heights

Sikh Women’s Action Network

Street Doctors Birmingham Team

Willmott Dixon – Enrichment Programme


Excellence in Media Award of the Year

Balvinder Sidhu – ITV Central

Brum Notes Magazine

Heart West Midlands

Mailbox Life

Science with Syd

Sixty9 Degrees Magazine

Sunny & Shay – BBC WM

Swan Publishing


Sporting Initiative of the Year

Aspire Sports

Birmingham Futsal Club

Birmingham Youth Sports Academy

Rising Stars Football Academy

Ruach Karate

Sport 4 Life

Sport Birmingham

WBC Women’s Boxing Club


Social Media/Marketing Campaign of the Year

Birmingham Hippodrome

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Bread Birmingham

Chinese New Year Festival

Colmore Food Festival

Digbeth Dining Club

HDY Agency

Town Hall Symphony Hall


Venue of the Year

Aston Villa Holte Suite


Resorts World Arena

The Birmingham Conference & Events Centre


The National Motorcycle Museum

The Vox

Unique Venues Birmingham


Social Enterprise of the Year

Change Kitchen

Creative Alliance

Evolve - Birmingham


Miss Macaroon

Project Aspie


Sociability Care CIC


Contribution to Education Award of the Year

Emerge leadership UK CIC

Kimichi School

Learning Labs

Mike Hopkins - South & City College Birmingham

Ormiston Academies Trust

Sarah Mullin – Priory School

Services For Education

Steve Dourass – South & City College Birmingham


Businessman of the Year

Alan Lusty – Adi Group

Andrew Dawson – Curium Solutions

Gurbinder Sandhu – Kartar Consulting

Mark O’Sullivan - Banabay

Michael Ward – Gateley UK

Sam Piri – ITAE Group

Stacey Barnfield – Edwin Ellis Creative Media

Stuart Holt – Javelin Block


Businesswoman of the Year

Amina Hussain – SME Outsourcing

Christiana Melam – National Association of Link Workers

Denise Morris – Tag Network Midlands

Eileen Schofield – Schofield & Associates

Hailey Hanson – The Hailey Hanson Academy

Kirsty Davies-Chinnock – Professional Polishing Services

Natalie Taylor - Herrick Recruitment


Professional of the Year

Amandip Jheeta – Tata Consultancy Services

James Wilcox – Willmott Dixon

Mark Hands – Irwin Mitchell Solicitors

Naeem Arif ­­- NA Consulting Ltd

Pam Sheemar – Natwest

Rav Bagri – Metro Bank

Sana Ahmed – HRS Family Law Solicitors

Stephanie Taylor – Malmaison


Networker of the Year

Adam Andrew Hayes – Hoot Hospitality

Bill Good – China West Midlands

Dave Massey – Brum Hour

Elizabeth Mee – Heylus Recruitment

Hannah Floyd – Sylter

Helen Gordon – Woodshires

Mark O’Sullivan – Banabay

Rosemary Major – Anthony Collins Solicitors


Young Achiever of the Year

Anna Assinder - Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce -Future Faces

Ayesha Rehman – Tresor Beauty Make up and Skincare Studio

Harvey Perttola – Maribel Restaurant

Jack Knowles – Yapa

Jeevan Chaggar – Evolve SI

Kia Hunt – HDY Agency

Mark Hipwell – LM JV

Matthew Dodwell – Hilton Metropole


Anita Bhalla OBE

Anita is currently Chair of Chair of Performances Birmingham PLC (Town Hall and Symphony Hall), Chair of Creative City Partnership, Director of Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership), Governor of the RSC, Non-Executive Birmingham & Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group, Trustee of The Children’s University and a Council member of Warwick University. Anita is chair of the Leadership Commission for the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Anita’s media career has been extensive of which over 25 years with the BBC; from setting up the BBC Asian Network in the West Midlands to a news Correspondent, Documentary maker to being Head of Political and Community Affairs in England then Head and Editor of the BBC’s Public Space Broadcasting and President of Circom (a European wide group of public service broadcasters).

Anita has a strong commitment to public service and her past portfolio in this area ranges from being a Commissioner on The Chancellor’s Commission (Warwick University), member of Birmingham’s Social Inclusion Commission to being the past chair of mac (Midlands Arts Centre), a previous chair of a Junior and Infant School, member of the governing body of Birmingham City University to currently being a Trustee of the Children’s University.

Anita has won several awards including the CRE’s Race in the Media National Television News Award and the Windrush Broadcaster of the Year. In 2009 she was awarded an OBE for her services to Broadcasting and Communities.

In 2012 Anita was the High Sheriff for the West Midlands. Anita has been awarded Honorary Degrees from Wolverhampton University, Birmingham City University and Warwick University. She is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

PJ Ellis

Having read Law at the University of Birmingham, and then practising as a solicitor for 7 years, PJ has now been in the digital world for over 6 years. He was the founder of social media agency, Blake7, which merged with Lightbox in the summer of 2018. He now co-owns this Digital Marketing Agency based in St. Paul’s Square and employs 17 full-time members of staff.

Away from business, he is an advocate of all things Birmingham (and an avid Birmingham City FC fan), Since 2012, PJ has helped raise over £750,000 for local charities and most notably,
PJ co-founded the charity LoveBrum in 2014, which shines a light on the “hidden gem” projects of our wonderful city.

He mentors other entrepreneurs, has helped raise over £1m worth of funding for start-up businesses, is a Director of the Birmingham Law Society and sits on the advisory board of BPS Leaders, TedX and the English Schools Football Association.  He recently received a Points of Light award from the Prime Minister, which recognises outstanding UK volunteers in their community.

His passions away from Birmingham, Business and Digital are his family and football.