IT came as a surprise for one of the winners on the night, as they took home a brand new award for this year.

In a celebration of women in business, Leah Mathias-Collins, an environmentalist at Vitacress, was given the first ever Female Achiever of the Year Award.

Leah said: “I didn’t realise it was a new award until someone told me tonight. I’m really quite surprised and pleased, my colleagues have been so supportive.

“The business world is very male-dominated, and in this industry, it is also heavily farmer-dominated as well.”

Leah specialises in rivers and wetlands at the produce supplier, and did not join the company as someone with a background in business, but this is something that she has used to her advantage.

Leah added: “My background is an environmentalist, as opposed to a businessperson, but I have confidence in my abilities, as I can look at situations from a different angle that others in the company cannot see.

“I tend to carry out my work in a natural environment, measuring water quality in rivers and lakes, and I think that it really can help.”

One of the next targets for Leah is making sure more wetlands are surviving and making progress in reducing the environmental impact of the company.

Leah said: “I’ve got big projects in the future, which will hopefully really help.

“Industry and big businesses are the key to the future of improving the environment, and working together with companies will really help.”

Female Achiever of the Year Award, sponsored by Willmott Dixon.

Winner: Leah Mathias-Collins

Nominees: Sophie Cranston and Sally Ann Hall Jones