Croydon celebrated its business success stories and the town's transformation at a glittering awards ceremony and charity ball, organised by White Label Creative.
A standing ovation greeted overall Business of the Year winner Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison of RISEgallery as he accepted his award in recognition of the role the business has played in changing perceptions of the town which is in the midst of a £5.25billion regeneration programme.
The gallery, which was set up last year, also won the category for Best New Business and Kevin said: "It's a real honour to be recognised for the contribution that we've put into Croydon."
Another big winner on the evening was Chequers Contract Services which won three of the 14 category prizes handed out on the evening – Best Business for Training and Development, Best Green Business and Apprenticeship Provider of the Year.
Other category winners were: Brasserie Vacherin, Caridon Property, Future Supplies & Support Services, Go2Games.com, Hawk Wargames, Jerrard Wayne Creatives, Mullalley & Co, Mum's the Chef and Quidcycle, while the award for entrepreneur of the year was won by Jake Wright of Click Entertainment.
The mood of celebration was summed up by Malcolm John, owner of Brasserie Vacherin, as he collected his award for Best Food and Hospitality Business.
"Croydon is where my passion is as someone who lives in Croydon," he said. "This is a great reward and I want to thank Croydon – we will always champion Croydon. There is only one winner and that winner is Croydon."
The event was organised by Croydon-based events and marketing company White Label Creative and winners were selected via a vigorous process featuring 25 independent judges.
Event host James Whale, the renowned broadcaster, told guests: "The winner tonight is Croydon. Croydon is sometimes maligned by people who don't know Croydon but people here know that it is one of the up and coming places, one of the places where people will beg to live in in the future."
His comments were backed up by Councillor Toni Letts, Croydon Council's cabinet member for the economy and jobs, who said: "Everyone here is a winner and is helping to build Croydon as a modern European city.
"Croydon is only ever as good as its businesses are successful and in this room tonight, table after table of people are business successes."
More than £3,200 was raised on the evening for Croydon Commitment, which acts as the links between businesses and the voluntary and charitable sector.
That included £650 from the auction of a prize of director's box tickets donated by Crystal Palace Football Club plus proceeds of a prize draw and a charity casino held during the evening.
The awards were also supported by Allianz Global Assistance, Croydon Advertiser, Croydon Business Venture, Handelsbanken, LARK Insurance, Love Croydon Jobs, Sussex Innovation Croydon, Veolia, Wing Yip and the Whitgift Centre.
Councillor Tony Newman, the leader of Croydon Council, said: "It is a truly fantastic event and we were absolutely committed to seeing the business awards back in Croydon. The employment and investment that is coming to Croydon makes these truly exciting times."