Exeter Rugby Club chairman and chief executive, Tony Rowe OBE, was honoured at the annual Western Morning Business Awards held at Sandy Park.
Mr Rowe, who is also the chairman and chief executive of Exeter-based South West Communications, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the glittering event, which was attended by over 300 people from across the region.
Hundreds of businessmen and women came together to celebrate the best companies, employers and apprentices the Westcountry has to offer.
The annual WMN Business Awards, once again headline sponsored by South West Water Business Services, were held on November 11 and saw 14 awards handed out to small and large firms in the region covering all aspects of enterprise from manufacturers, exporters to green businesses, start-ups and apprenticeships.
Accepting his award, Mr Rowe - who helped to play an integral part in bringing the Rugby World Cup to Exeter for three games this year - said he was ‘honoured’ to collect the prize, but paid tribute to his teams of employees at both Exeter Rugby Club and South West Communications, which he set up in 1982 after the Government announced they were going to open up the telephone market.
Since that time, the company has gone from strength to strength employing over 120 staff in all form of modern-day communications.
Alongside Mr Rowe, Applied Automation, a Plymouth company specialising in industrial automated machinery and control systems for luxury yachts, claim the coveted Business of the Year title.
Hundreds of pounds was raised on the night through an auction led by specialist auctioneers Kivells with all proceeds going to the event’s chosen charity, the Royal British Legion.
Bill Martin, editor of the Western Morning News, praised all winners and shortlisted firms, saying: “To be shortlisted in the prestigious WMN Business Awards is no mean feat.
“All of you are worthy companies and employers, thriving to create wealth and jobs and attract investment to the Westcountry. Our beautiful region needs firms and entrepreneurs like you to ensure it remains a great place to live and a great place to do business in. Congratulations to you all.”
Meanwhile Scilly Flowers, a family business based on St Martin’s, was named Small Business of the Year, a category sponsored by Cornwall FSB.
The Customer Service Award, sponsored by Great Western Railway, went to Falmouth-based National Maritime Museum Cornwall.
The Employer of the Year Award, sponsored by Cornwall College Business, went to Exeter-based Devon Air Ambulance and the Best Tourism or Hospitality Business title, sponsored by estate agents Charles Darrow was awarded to Carbis Bay Hotel and Estate in St Ives.
Naturalmat in Topsham won the Sustainable Achievement Award, sponsored by Alpha Logic, while the Innovation of the Year Award, sponsored this year for the first time by Falmouth University, went to Exeter-based renewable energy company SunGift Energy.
The Apprenticeship Award, sponsored by City College Plymouth, was handed to Pendennis Shipyard in Falmouth while the title of Exporter of the Year went to the Condition Monitoring Group in Torrington.
The Young Business Person of the Year award, sponsored for the first time by the Federation of Small Business Cornwall, went to Duchy-based Kite Vision.
Meanwhile the Best Community Contribution Award, sponsored by Stonehaven Care Group, went to Beach Schools South West, a business based in Modbury and the Best Start-up Award, sponsored by GAIN, went to the Bishopsteignton-based South Devon Wine Tours company.