Normally taking place at the stadium in September, this prestigious event brings together the most influential leaders in business, education and government. Supported by professionals from the area, this awards night sees an exclusive group come together to recognise and celebrate business success. Previous hosts have included Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE, Jeremy Vine, Russell Kane and supermodel Caprice.

Naturally, the event itself has had to change this year due to the pandemic, with the winners being announced later this month and then a celebratory dinner set to take place in February for the exclusive group of the winners and sponsors to come together.

With regular categories of Innovation & Technology, Customer Excellence and Family Business all still making an appearance, there is one category that is new for 2020, the COVID-19 Business Hero Award. Many have applied, detailing the efforts that their teams have gone to, how their business has reacted to Covid-19 and the impact on the community this has had, and these applications have been narrowed down to just six finalists.

Ashton Gate Managing Director, Mark Kelly said: “We are thrilled to have been shortlisted for this award. It has been such a difficult year for everyone and to be recognised for the efforts that the sporting group has gone to, to help our local community in its time of need, means a great deal.

“Two years ago we won the ‘Business In The Community’ award and being shortlisted for this year’s special Covid Business Hero award shows how we continue to strive to support our local community.

“Our staff came together from across the sporting group to help with or Covid-19 Emergency Relief fund. We delivered more than 50,000 meals to families in need during the summer months and are proud that through our partnership with Fareshare SW our work to help fight food poverty continues.”

On Friday March 20th, Ashton Gate Stadium closed its doors to the public as the Coronavirus pandemic took hold. That weekend, an emergency call was held with the Lansdown family, stadium directors and key stakeholders within the sporting group to explore how Ashton Gate could help the community in its time of need. It was apparent that many charities were already in desperate need for extra storage space to cope with the sharp rising demand for food. This, combined with the impending Easter holidays, meant that many children and their families in the local area were going to need extra support as lockdown hit.

By Monday, March 23rd, Ashton Gate had opened its doors to partner charities, with the Sports Bar being the first as it became home to Feed The Homeless.

In the weeks that followed, other key partnerships were formed that will long outlive this pandemic, the biggest partnership of which being with Fareshare SW. With their existing warehouse full, it was essential for them to find more space to be able to not only continue their usual work of delivering food to organisations across the region, but also to reach more people. The Lansdown Stand concourse became their home for lockdown, providing them with their second biggest storage facility in the South West. To enable FareShare to continue processing such large volumes, Ashton Gate has now found them an alternative space, on their footprint at BS3, which can continue to operate even when crowds return to the stadium.

Another one of the successful partnerships was with Bristol Food Union who took up residence in the South Concourse. This enabled them to deliver thousands of meals to the city’s vulnerable young adults and helped keep food from restaurant supply chains moving after closures left them with effectively no business to run.

Running alongside all of this, Bristol Sport’s own charities (Robins Foundation, Bears Foundation and Bristol Sport Foundation) worked with Ashton Gate’s head chef George Opondo and a huge group of staff volunteers to link up with the council, schools and Fareshare SW to make and deliver meals to local families who were most in need. By May, more than 10,000 meals had been made and delivered to the local community this way, whilst the partnership with Fareshare SW had enabled an amazing half-a-million meals to be delivered between Bristol and Bodmin.

Alongside the partnerships, Ashton Gate Stadium also opened its car park as a ‘drive-thru’ testing facility for staff of the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust.

To date an incredible million+ meals has been distributed from Ashton Gate Stadium during the Covid-19 crisis to those living with food insecurity, with the Bristol Sport group delivering more than 50,000 meals directly to families on the programmes and within partner schools.

All the Covid-19 relief efforts conducted at the stadium have been strategically planned alongside Feeding Bristol to ensure an efficient and effective city-wide response alongside other charities.

Special thanks to Feeding Bristol, FareShare South West, Feed the Homeless, Bristol Food Union, BS3 Community, our charitable foundations and all our staff who volunteered. We will continue to put the stadium, our clubs and our Foundations at the heart of our community and use the power of sport to provide positive change.