SME Surrey Business Awards


The companies making up the backbone of Surrey celebrated in style last night at the 2023 I Need A PA/ SME Surrey Business Awards.

The prestigious event, held at Epsom Downs Racecourse, shone a spotlight on the achievements of companies with up to 250 employees.

The counties finest Small and Medium Enterprises gathered to celebrate their success, and saw Sutton based Family Business, Croxsons take home the Overall Winner title.

Tim Croxson, CEO of Croxsons, commented on the win, saying:

“We are really proud to have won two awards this evening. At Croxsons, we are a huge pusher on Sustainability, and very passionate about what we do. Getting the recognition through these Awards is something we are really proud of. We are incredibly humbled.”

The SME Surrey Business Awards 2022 are backed by national renowned Service Master Clean AAA. With over 60 years’ experience in commercial cleaning, they aim to give complete peace of mind with their professional cleaning services, so clients can focus on what is most important to them, and not the cleaning.

The judges of the Awards were looking for organisations who show outstanding initiative, boldness, and imagination in Surrey, as well as sound management practices throughout their business.

The Judges of the SME Surrey Business Awards 2022 are all top business people within their chosen arena and have cited the awards as both the most transparent and professionally executed.

Lucinda Grossmith, the host for the evening and Ambassador for the Jockey Club and Epsom Downs Racecourse commented “We’re all aware that SMEs are responsible for driving innovation and competition across the counties economic sectors.

“The sheer number, breadth, and overall quality of the entries we have received is a testament of the strength of Surrey’s growing SME market. This year’s entries demonstrate a commitment to impact and purpose-driven work that’s here to stay.

We should all be proud that such businesses choose to call Surrey home.” Lucinda continued.

“The Finalists have set the standard for SMEs across Surrey.” Said Lucy Williams, I Need a PA. “Just reaching the Finals is a testament to the skill, determination and hard work of each and every business here this evening .”

Croxsons, alongside nearly all other Gold Winners from the evening, will be going through to the SME National Business Awards Grand Final, taking place at the iconic Wembley Stadium later this year.

Incentive Payments *Update*

From today, employers can apply for incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice. Lots of organisations have already expressed an interest in this support, so please make sure to look at how this can benefit you.

You can get the payment in 3 steps

  1. Hire new apprentices between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021.
  2. Apply for the payment after you’ve added new apprentices to your apprenticeship service account.
  3. You’ll be eligible for 2 equal instalments after the apprentice completes 90 and 365 days of their apprenticeship.

Any size, any sector

Incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice are available for any organisation, no matter the size or the sector. The important thing is that they hire an apprentice who:

  1. is new to your organisation
  2. starts their contract of employment and their apprenticeship with you between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021

Get up to £2,000 for each new apprentice

For apprentices aged:

  • 16 to 24, employers will receive £2,000
  • 25 and over, employers will receive £1,500

Employers can spend the payment on anything to support their organisation’s costs, from facilities and travel to uniforms and salaries. This is in addition to the £1,000 payment already given to help employers meet the needs of some groups of apprentices in the workplace.

Click Here for to Apply

New Incentive Payments

The Government recently announced incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice. This support is available for any organisation.

Any size, any sector

Incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice are available for any organisation, no matter the size or the sector. The important thing is that they hire an apprentice who:

  1. is new to your organisation
  2. starts their contract of employment and their apprenticeship with you between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021

Get up to £2,000 for each new apprentice

For apprentices aged:

  • 16 to 24, employers will receive £2,000
  • 25 and over, employers will receive £1,500

Employers can spend the payment on anything to support their organisation’s costs, from facilities and travel to uniforms and salaries. This is in addition to the £1,000 payment already given to help employers meet the needs of some groups of apprentices in the workplace.

Click Here for More Information

ALPS Meets Jeremy Hunt MP

Sue Taylor attended a meeting with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) last week and had the opportunity to voice our members’ concerns with Jeremy Hunt MP.  Time was limited to just an hour, and there were many other topical points of concern to FSB members, but the important issues were raised of Level 2 Business Administration Standards and of provider funding difficulties in Health & Social Care, which he duly noted.

As a back bencher, Mr Hunt may now have more available time to concentrate on these and other local issues and it is intended that ALPS will be represented at any future meetings to monitor progress.

Invotra Wins National Award!

I’m absolutely delighted to announce that one of our members, Invotra, won the SME Employer of the Year award at last week’s National Apprenticeship Awards Ceremony held at Billingsgate Market in London.  This is a very competitive category with many entries and Invotra absolutely deserve this win; at their offices in Woking, apprenticeships are at the heart of their business growth.  The company support ALPS in many ways, speaking at events, always endorsing apprenticeships from an employer’s perspective and providing support for the Graduation too.  I think you can see by the smile on Alison’s fact, how much this means to her and the team!  CONGRATULATIONS!

ALPS at Institute of Directors

ALPS took two Technical Sales Apprentices from the regional award winning company, Invotra to the Institute of Directors meeting this morning.  Despite only starting their Apprenticeships in June, Louis James and Debbie Manley both spoke confidently about the benefits of Apprenticeships and they were warmly received by the Institute.  It is always great to hear young people speak about Apprentices speak with such enthusiasm and Louis and Debbie were a credit to Invotra.

Federation of Small Businesses

We are pleased to provide some information on the FSB:

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is the UK’s largest business support organisation, promoting and protecting the interests of the self-employed and small businesses.  

Established in 1974 to help our members succeed in business, we are a non-profit making and non-party political organisation that’s led by our members, for our members.

Members get an exclusive package of business services including advice, financial products and support. These cover a wide range of benefits such as tax, legal and HR, local networking, business banking, insurance services, funding and much more.

How can FSB help your business?  
If you run your own business, chances are you picked an industry you know and are passionate about. You’re confident that you know it well enough to be able to cope with whatever life throws at you. But what happens when you need to deal with something outside your field of expertise? No one person has all the answers. The good news is, joining FSB, the Experts in Business, means having someone on your side who does have the legal, tax or HR expertise needed.

What’s included in membership?
Right from the outset, FSB Business Essentials members have access to a range of advice, financial and support services designed to make your life easier, including:

  • Legal and tax protection scheme and legal costs insurance
  • 24/7 legal advice line
  • An extensive online legal hub with over 650 document templates and factsheets
  • 24/7 employment advice, and fully customisable documents from the legal hub
  • Free business banking (subject to status)
  • Insurance advice
  • Cyber protection insurance
  • Debt recovery service

We can help your business grow by leaving you free to do what you’re best at – running your business.  

For more information or to join now, please contact 0808 2020 888 or visit

ALPS at St Andrews School

We took the ASK Project to St Andrews School in Leatherhead earlier this week. We were asked by the school to support the new Careers Lead with an update to her Apprenticeship knowledge and help to plan support activities for the students over the academic year.

We provided the latest Apprenticeship Guide and it was great to see the posters the school is using around the Learning Skills Centre.

ALPS at Woking College

ALPS visited Woking Sixth Form College on 23rd September to talk to over 100 Year 13 Students about Apprenticeships as a Progression Option. A number of students were interested in the opportunities that Degree and Higher Apprenticeships could offer as an alternative to full-time University.

We will going back later in the Academic Year to talk to Year 12 students and to take part in events for students and parents.

ALPS at Reigate College

ALPS attended Reigate College yesterday to give apprenticeship information to Year 13s who had decided that University wasn’t the route they wished to take.  We spoke to 190 students and had the opportunity to share the new vacancy listing for Degree and Higher Apprenticeships. We also provided a new copy of the Apprenticeship Guide.

ALPS will be returning to the college next year to talk to Year 12 parents as well as to run Apprenticeship application and registration workshops.

Surrey Graduation for Apprentices and Teachers

On Friday 27th September the Association of Learning Providers (ALPS) ran the 5th graduation for Surrey Apprentices and Teachers, which was held at Guildford Cathedral.

ALPS joined up with GLF Schools,  a large Surrey-based Multi Academy Trust which was founded in 2012.  GLF Schools runs a trainee teacher programme and it was a pleasure to team up with them to celebrate the success of 35 qualifying teachers.

Providers across the Surrey network celebrated the success of over 100 apprentices who came from 40 employers across the area.  Apprentices had studied over many different sector areas and had qualified across all levels.

The event was sponsored by Surrey County Council, The Federation of Small Business, The local apprenticeship Ambassador Network and NCFE.  Anne Milton, the former Skills Minister was the keynote speaker, with further speakers from The FSB, NHS, and Surrey County Council’s Deputy Chairman, Colin Kemp.

Sue Taylor (network manager ALPS) said “It was fantastic to celebrate the success of apprentices at a graduation where the apprentices could wear gowns and they could celebrate their success with their family and employers”. Alison Galvin, Financial Direct from Invotra who had 5 employees graduating remarked “ It was amazing to see the hard work of her team being rewarded at such a special event”. Invotra were regional winners of the SME National Apprenticeship Awards and will be going forward to the National Awards.

ALPS will be looking forward to working on the 2020 graduation.

FSB Business lunch

Over 50 employers and all of the Mayors from the Surrey Borough and Districts attended a lunch hosted by The Federation of Small Businesses at the Apprentice Graduation event on the 27th September at Guildford Cathedral. Anne Milton, former skills minster mingled with the delegates, spoke positively about apprenticeships and looked forward to celebrating their success at the celebration. The event was held in the cathedral balcony overlooking the beautiful surroundings which was set up for the event.

Coast to Capital logo

Coast to Capital – Local Industrial Strategy Consultation

Coast to Capital has launched a consultation on the economic profile of the area which is the biggest piece of research undertaken to date into the economy and the area’s potential.

This analysis will inform Coast to Capital’s Local Industrial Strategy which will be negotiated with government early next year and, when published, will prioritise intervention and investment in the local area. This is in addition to the £300 million that Coast to Capital has already invested into a wide range of projects to regenerate our towns and cities.

It is vital that the economic profile accurately reflects the diverse nature of the Coast to Capital economy and can demonstrate to Government the area’s strengths and opportunities for economic growth. It is informed by updated data sets and five specific research studies on urban centres; skills and the labour market; commercial property; innovation ecosystems and digital connectivity.

Read more about the consultation.

Invotra logo

INVOTRA wins Small Employer Award

It was great to attend the regional apprenticeship awards lunch in Guildford yesterday. It is always great to celebrate the success of apprentices and employers in the region especially as ALPS have been involved in the awards process with NAS for a number of years.

I am delighted to announce that INVOTRA, our employer member won the Small Employer Award, last year they were runners up, but I know Invotra wanted the winners trophy for their cabinet!! I have been lucky to visit Invotra over the last couple of years where I can truly say apprenticeship are embedded throughout their organisation with learners engaging on a journey from all levels and across a number of frameworks. It is a great accolade to achieve and I am sure we would all like to wish them the best of luck going forward to the National Panel. We will be seeing many of their learners at the graduation which is only two weeks away!


School student


ALPS will be delivering the Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge into schools again this year, we have been delivering this project for three years and for the next three will be working with a new prime contractor, Kent CXK who receive their funding from the Department of Education.

The project offers interactive activities for students to enable them to access and apply for apprenticeships.  ALPS can offer many varied activities for schools so please get in touch, early bookings are recommended to ensure our availability.  The Amazing apprenticeship website has some fantastic resources for schools to use


Cathedral graduation 2019

It is not long now until the gradation at Guildford Cathedral on the 27th September.  ALPS are pleased to be joined once again by GLF schools who will be proud supporters of the teachers they have trained this year.  The event has been kindly sponsored by The Federation of Small Business, The Apprenticeship Ambassador Network, Surrey County Council and NCFE.  Thank you sponsors, without your support this very worthwhile event would not take place.  We are finalising the brochure this week and it looks like we have over 100 apprentices graduation for 2019!