The Signature Awards 2020

The Signature Awards 2020 toast the success stories of the region. 

Jas Sansi was there to capture all the action. 

700 Ninder Johal, Paresh Davdra and Tommy Sandhu

Westside Business Improvement District (BID) covers the area surrounding Broad Street and Brindleyplace. It’s BID status is up for re-election in May 2020. The election allows BID Levy payers to continue supporting its great work. 


I’m a huge fan of BIDs. They ensure the safety of visitors to the area by developing close working relationships with emergency services. They co-ordinate deep cleans of the pavements, organise wardens, taxi marshalls and a host of other services that make life better.


Westside BID is home to a number of world class institutions such as the Library of Birmingham, Symphony Hall and ICC Birmingham. These are invaluable assets to the success of Brum as the regional capital of the West Midlands. You can therefore appreciate why the work of the BID is vital. 


ICC Birmingham hosted the Signature Awards last night. The annual awards have grown exponentially in its five years. The Social Media hashtag has to reflect the location given Ninder Johal and his team now deliver the event in the East Midlands and London as well as Brum. Manchester is in the pipeline, but last night it was announced Signature Awards head to India in 2022. 


This is very exciting news and I have every confidence this will be the biggest trade mission Birmingham has delivered to Asia. New Delhi is the political hub of India and it’ll be fascinating to see how the Signature Awards is received in the capital. 


The Signature Awards is entertaining, informative, engaging and an opportunity to expand and develop networks whilst raising individual profiles. Neil Hamilton-Taylor from the Social Media Academy emailed me this morning, I learned the social media reach of The Signature Awards last night was a staggering five million. 

078 Cathy Kubiak, Martin Chandler and Tracey Smith

In the battle for on line attention and eyes, Signature Awards is second to none. 

Here’s a few personal highlights from the inspiring line up of winners: 

Excellence in Financial Services – Falcon Insurance

297 Excellence in Financial Services - Falcon Insurance

This one made me smile. The team are headed up by Pinder Singh Dhaliwal who celebrated his 50th birthday this week. I can’t think of a nicer birthday present.

It’s going to be a good year for Pinder, his football team is Liverpool so those birthday celebrations will continue into the month of May when they parade their first Premiership title. 

 Excellence in Financial Services (Individual) – Mandeep Rajput

313 Excellence in Financial Services (Individual) - Mandeep Rajput

This has been a remarkable week for Mandeep from Virgin Money. He hosted the company’s CEO David Duffy in Birmingham at their Virgin Money store on New Street.

The coverage of the visit on his Linkedin account went through the roof with 13,000 views. His win marked a return to the awards for Mandeep who won the Financial and Banking category in year one. Great work Mandeep. 

Excellence in Legal Services (Individual) – Vic Younis 

328 Excellence in Legal Services (Individual) - Vic Younis

Awards are like buses, you wait ages and then two come along at once. Popular young lawyer Vic Younis was identified as a Rising Star in Law at this week’s British Muslim Awards. 

The Individual category for Excellence in Legal Services afforded Vic a very well deserved double.

Excellence in Creative and Design – HDY Agency

359 Excellence in Creative and Design - HDY Agency

I’ve known Ed James for over a decade and have enjoyed listening and watching him work. He heads up HDY Agency and led the team to the ICC stage at Hall 4 to accept this award. 

One of their great products is an event video capturing service, edited in real time and played back at the end of the event, this is a game changer. Having spent many long nights in post production, this service alone is worthy of the award. Great job HDY.

Entrepreneur of the Year – Gurpreet Bassi

540 Entrepreneur of the Year - Gurpreet Bassi

Gurpreet is CEO of Bond Wolf Auctions who celebrated their first anniversary last week. And what a year it has been. The company’s property auctions held on a regular basis are huge and attract the attention of national media. A number of Gurpreet’s team can be seen on BBC Homes under the Hammer when filming in Brum. 

If you ever pop into their office on Colmore Row and you’re a fan of the programme, take an autograph book with you. Congratulations Gurpreet, Singha beers in Metro Bar are on you. 

Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion – Irwin Mitchell 

559 Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion - Irwin Mitchell

This is an award the national Law firm have made their own. Irwin Mitchell recently moved from Temple Street to the Colmore Building and this award is, I believe, the first one to mark the beginning of a new era. 

Irwin Mitchell have demonstrated unrivalled commitment in this category and were one of the first major professional firms to support Birmingham Pride.

Well done to all finalists who made the final cut and congratulations to the winners who woke up this morning nursing a coveted Signature Awards trophy. 

I look forward to the Signature Awards Birmingham 2021 and have already began to pack for Signature Awards India in 2022. 

The full set of images can be seen here:

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a Trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to The Asian Today newspaper.

@jassansi 07930 837 505


Ikon Gallery 2020 Launch

Ikon Gallery launch their 2020-21 program. 

Jas Sansi joined the Westside BID team and dropped in with his Nikon.  


If you’ve never been to the Ikon Gallery in Oozells Square Brindleyplace, put it on your things to do for 2020. It’s an extraordinary place. 


This morning saw the launch of its 2020-21 program. Friends of the Gallery and the region’s Arts Community gathered on level 2 to hear from Gallery Director Jonathan Watkins. 


Nestled amongst the paintings of Birmingham born artist John Walker and reinvigorated with cake and tea, guests were also given insight of an exhibition, close to Jonathan’s heart, Ikon Gallery will be hosting in Spring 2022. This will sit nicely in the build up to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022. 


Mike Olley from Westside BID in attendance explained ‘Ikon Gallery is the Midlands TATE. Its offers a wide variety of Arts and Culture.”


“Its something well worth a little of your time to visit. And you can even indulge yourself in Yorks cafe afterwards. We’re supremely fortunate in having such a monumentally successful gallery on our doorstep. We’re very proud of having Ikon Gallery and its successful stewardship under Jonathan Watkins and Ian Hyde.” 


Ikon Gallery is a minutes walk from the Midland Metro Tram Stop at the Library of Birmingham. Ten minutes walk from New Street Station and served by the West Midlands bus network. There is on street parking off Broad Street and a car park in Brindleyplace if you wish to beat the Clean Air Zone charges for non Euro 6 vehicles being introduced in July 2020.


I started to write about some of the highlights of the year ahead but I’m doing Ikon Gallery a disservice. They have produced a great document so take a look at it here: 

Full set of images from the launch:

Go check it out.

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham @jassansi 07930 837 505

Ikon Gallery 1 Oozells Square Brindleyplace Birmingham B1 2HS


The Signature Awards 2020

The Countdown to #SIGS20 is on. 

Jas Sansi looks at the Signature Awards as a beacon for building relationships in a post Brexit Britain.


Welcome to my first blog of the month. It’s the 1st of February and the first day out of the European Union. 

I marked last night’s 11pm departure by going to bed at 10pm. My wife told me she heard fireworks. All I recall is dreaming of £350 Million a week extra to the NHS. 

It’s done. Let’s look forward. First off, the annual Signature Awards on Friday 7th February 2020 at ICC Birmingham. The event is supporting Acorns Hospice.

I’m looking forward to a night of celebration photographing 600 of the region’s brightest and best. Go getters who irrespective of where the goal posts are, simply smash the goals in like suited Mo Salahs at Anfield. It’s a night of winners. 

The Signature Awards celebrate wealth creators and the professional services who support the business community. An evening of entrepreneurs and enablers. 

It’s a night of winners

Bruce Springsteen was once asked why he wrote so many songs about cars. The boss explained he never wrote about cars, he wrote about the people inside those cars, and their journeys.

The Signature Awards do not celebrate wealth. Signature Awards celebrate the people who have overcome adversity, managed risk and worked incredibly hard to enjoy their success. It’s not about money, houses or cars, it’s about the journey from zero to hero.

Business isn’t an exact science. Behind every Bentley, Rolex and leafy postcode address is blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice. All the things people never see. 

The Signature Awards recognise the individuals and teams who create the jobs that build communities and make our country a world leader. We’re the fifth biggest economy in the world and the only one in the top five with less than 100 Million people. 

Relationships are important

England is the only country in the world that enjoys parallel close relationships; we are part of a United Kingdom, partnered with the EU for 47 years, built bridges with a Commonwealth of Nations and of course the special relationship with USA. 

Think about those four relationships. We live in a world where the Middle East is a cauldron of conflict. India and Pakistan tensions defuse and reignite at the whim of political and military leaders. Everyone hates Russia. Americans kill 27,000 Americans every year with guns. China’s attention has temporarily shifted away from managing Hong Kong riots. And if it wasn’t for a teenage school girl from Sweden, the only discussion at Davos would be whatever Trump tweets. 

Relationships are important. How we manage the complexity of countries beyond EU borders and shape out trade deals is a daunting task. 

One thing the Signature Awards has always delivered is the opportunity for its diverse audience to develop relationships. The international connections are there to be harvested under the glittering lights of a Conference setting in Birmingham. 

Add your signature to the night. 

Signature Awards 2020 7th February 2020. ICC Birmingham

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham. A trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to The Asian Today newspaper.

@jassansi 07930 837 505




Wonders of Westside BID 2020

The annual WOWs (Wonders of Westside) celebrating the success stories in and around Broad Street and Brindleyplace promised to tear the roof of PRYZM nightclub. They did not disappoint. 

Jas Sansi and the Nikons were there capturing the Boogie Night to end all Boogie Nights.


WOWs 2020 followed the tram route up Broad Street away from its usual venue, ICC Birmingham to PRYZM Nightclub. I had no idea how the annual awards night would adapt to this new environment but adapt it did. It was a remarkable evening. 


Guests escaped the chill of a blustery wet Sunday and enjoyed welcome drinks on arrival. Those weren’t the only shots on offer, photographs were captured in front of a flower wall before heading into the main arena. 


Mike Olley, the Guvnor of Westside BID kicked off the evening thanking sponsors and guests for their support in making #WOWs20 a successful fully sold out event.


Paying tribute to the teams who keep the district safe for all who work, visit and live in the area, Mr Olley spoke of the resilience of Birmingham’s night time economy.


WOWs Host, ITV Weatherman Des Coleman made a stormin’ entrance to the stage blasting out ‘Love Really Hurts without You’ by Billy Ocean.


I forecast this being a lightening night with showers of confetti, thunderous applause and a whirlwind of emotions for the winners. Des leapt off stage and encouraged guests to get up and dance.


BID Chairman Dipesh Mistry was next up on stage. As a banking professional, Dipesh resisted the temptation to break into song so focused on summarising the wins Westside BID delivered in a busy year for Brum. 


Guests enjoyed dinner from Belly’s Caribbean Grill along with drinks sponsored by Jelley’s Organic Vodka. 


Entertainment was not confined to Des Coleman’s quips, including when a venue manager said his wife really loved the weather presenter, Des replied ‘that’s what she told me last night too.’ Hilarious.


1970s Funk and Disco legends Heatwave were the headline act and they were brilliant. Watching them belt out the iconic Boogie Nights was one of many personal highlights of the night. 


Huge congratulations to the Westside BID is hosting and delivering an incredible night. 


If you’re looking for an alternative venue for your next event, consider PRYZM. They have flexible spaces, breakout rooms, catering, city centre location, an abundance of hotels near by for overnight delegates and as you would expect, an amazing sound system. 


Lets take a look at the worthy winners from Westside BID: 

Best Voluntary Team Leaders – City Pastors (pictured below)

0317 Best Voluntary Team Leaders - City Pastors

Best Arts and Entertainment Venue – Arena Birmingham

0327 Best Arts and Entertainment Venue - Arena Birmingham

Best Hotel Manager – Samantha Dunion (Hampton by Hilton)

0349 Best Hotel Manager - Samantha Dunion (Hampton by Hilton)

Best Front of House – Jurys Inn

0380 Best Front of House - Jurys Inn

Best Specialist Restaurant – Barajee Restaurant

0399 Best Specialist Restaurant - Barajee Restaurant

Best Specialist Venue – Grosvenor Casino

0413 Best Specialist Venue - Grosvenor Casino

Best Themed Entertainment Venue – Rocket Club

0435 Best Themed Entertainment Venue - Rocket Club

Best Independent Bar Manager – Steve Emission (Velvet Music Rooms)

0454 Best Independent Bar Manager - Steve Emission (Velvet Music Rooms)


Best Restaurant Manager – Andrew Shipley (Del Villagio)

0473 Best Restaurant Manager - Andrew Shipley (Del Villagio)

Lifetime Achievement Award – Dave Alebon (Brasshouse)

0497 Lifetime Achievement Award - Dave Alebon (Brasshouse)

Best Fine Dining – Pushkars

0737 Best Fine Dining - Pushkars

Best Promoter – Vodbull

0774 Best Promoter - Vodbull

Best Newcomer – Vietnamese Street Kitchen

0798 Best Newcomer - Vietnamese Street Kitchen

Best Hotel – Hyatt Regency Birmingham

0829 Best Hotel - Hyatt Regency Birmingham

Best Pub O’Neils

1150 Best Pub O'Neils

Best Promo Team – Players Bar

1182 Best Promo Team - Players Bar

Best Club Manager – Jo Ellerbury (Reflex)

1224 Best Club Manager - Jo Ellerbury (Reflex)

1295 Best Bar Team – Velvet Music Rooms

1295 Best Bar Team - Velvet Music Rooms

Best Themed Club – PopWorld

1358 Best Bar Team - Velvet Music Rooms

Best Club – PRYZM

1382 Best Club - PRYZM

See you in ’21

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to the Asian Today newspaper.

@jassansi 07930 837 505

See the full set of images from #WOWs20: 


GBCC Year Planner 2020

The anticipated Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce 2020 Year Planner has dropped.

Jas Sansi looks ahead on what the Events team have in store for the region’s Business Community. 



The 2020 Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) Year Planner landed yesterday. It’s got more dates than Bullring Nandos.

With events accessible from Breakfast for the region’s early risers to those who prefer networking after midnight at the Awards After Parties, there’s something for everyone.

Before we take a look, Grab your diary, pen and a coffee. Save these dates now as we exit January and look forward to a packed year ahead for Greater Birmingham and the West Midlands.

These are my personal highlights for the year and only scratch the surface of a planner that allows you to schedule events around your ambitions for 2020.

First off; the Quarterly Business Reports on 21 April, July 15 and October 13. These feedback the confidence and concerns of the region’s business community. The data is hot off the press and presented at breakfast events at Birmingham City University.

The venue allows an unparalleled vista over the HS2 development at Curzon Street. Book early as this is an incredibly popular event produced by the policy team.

Bank of England (BoE) briefings are scheduled for 3 April, 10 July and 2 October. These clear and insightful projections are delivered by the BoE’s local agent for the West Midlands, Graeme Chaplin, think Bond, Investment Bond. 

The GBCC Annual Dinner & Awards on 19 March is the one of the biggest business events of the year. It’s where CEOs, Political, Civic and Business Leaders rub shoulders with the Business Community on a glittering night at ICC Birmingham. 

The Awards showcase the most exciting business stories from our region and its a night not to be missed. 

Growth Through People returns on 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 and 26 March 2020 and this year there is a Growth Through People Conference at Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre on 2nd April 2020. 

These series of events are perfect for developing leadership and management skills, understanding best practice, harnessing talent, improving employee engagement and increasing productivity. 

There are two Chamber Expos in 2020, 12 March at Aston Villa and 23 October (Venue TBC). Perfect for a full day of networking and seminars and large scale networking. Exhibition Stands are available from £230 + VAT. 

GBCC Summer Networking BBQ on 17 July allows a break from those beach body preparations. 

The Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) events go from strength to strength. 2020 see events centred around the Subcontinent’s festival days of Vaisakhi on 16 April, Eid on 8 July and Diwali on 18 November. 

There are additional ABCC events on 5 March for International Women’s Day, 8 April for the AGM and the incredible annual Dinner and Awards (Date TBC) 

The US Election Results Breakfast on 4 November will be fascinating; will Trump do it again? Impeachment isn’t what it used to be! 

The ABCC Christmas Social partners up with the Birmingham Chamber on 10 December. This is a personal favourite for me as I introduced the ABCC Christmas Social celebration whilst a Committee Member of the ABCC Executive. There are 28 Million Christians in India. 

So there you are, just a scratch of the surface of what is happening in the year ahead. Please consult the planner for additional events in this, a leap year where you have 366 days to accelerate your profile forward and exponentially upwards. 

As you close your diaries and click you pen shut, make a resolution you can’t afford to abandon; Make 2020 your year.

Link to the Planner:

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a Trustee for LoveBrum and Contributor for The Asian Today newspaper.

@jassansi 07930 837 505




The Wonders of Westside (WOWs) 2020

Westside BID salute the businesses from Birmingham’s entertainment district on a glittering night in the city later this month. 

Jas Sansi looks ahead to what we can expect on one of the first major social events of the year.

Westside Skyline.JPG

Birmingham’s relentless social calendar kicks off with the annual WOWs (Wonders of Westside) in two weeks.

The WOWs celebrate the venues, bars, clubs, restaurants, businesses and of course the people behind the Westside Business Improvement District (BID) in and around Broad Street and Brindleyplace. 

The WOWs is an opportunity for the teams, who work tirelessly over Christmas and the New Year, to let their hair down and raise a glass to their success in making Westside BID the go-to destination for a great night out.


Mike Olley, Manager of Westside BID said ‘This year promises to be the biggest and best WOWs ever with Des Coleman, weatherman at ITV Central hosting the event and the legendary Heatwave  who will be performing on the night.

Heatwave is an international disco/funk band formed in 1975. They are responsible for some of the most iconic songs in the last five decades including Always and Forever, Boogie Nights and Groove Line.

It’s been a remarkable year for the BID, Director Saqib Bhatti became President of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, awarded an honorary doctorate from Aston University, an MBE in the New Years Honours and became Conservative MP for Meriden. 


Paul Thandi CEO of The NEC Group which has ICC Birmingham and Birmingham Arena within the BID became a Commander of the British Empire in the New Years Honours. 


Here’s something you wouldn’t have read in the New Year’s Honours Headlines, Westside BID Manager Mike Olley inherited a Barony as part of his family heritage. 

Recent developments in the Royal household mean there is room at the top and should Mike wish to assert his right to the title, he would be known as Sir Michael Olley Bt 17th Baronette of Chiselhampton. 


The WOWs recognise the contribution the district makes to the success of Birmingham and the wider region. Nationally, the night time economy is the fifth largest industry in the UK accounting for 8% of all jobs generating over £66 Billion.

Mike Olley added ‘Westside BID has demonstrated how resilient the night time economy has proved to be in Birmingham in 2019. I can’t believe how many people are out, in and around Broad Street. We welcome more than 25,000 people on a Saturday night and as many as 10,000 on a student night in the middle of the week.


WOWs 2020 are being hosted at PRYZM, a Superclub at the Fiveways end of Broad Street. It has three floors, four cutting edge Club Rooms and a VIP luxury lounge. 

What can we expect from WOWs 2020? key contenders for Hotel of the Year will be Hyatt and Park Regis but never under estimate Jurys Inn, Hampton by Hilton and Novotel. 

Hyatt Autumn.JPG

Pushkar are always hot for fine dining but the food options in and around Westside BID are world class. 


ICC Birmingham, THSH and Library of Birmingham will be hard to beat for Best Conference Venue. 

ICC 10

There will be recognition for the best Door Staff, Emergency Services, Wardens and the teams who ensure the safety of visitors to the District. 


Very best of luck to all the businesses based in Westside BID, I look forward to photographing you all in your finest splendour and should you bump into Mike Olley, don’t forget to curtsy. 

Wonders of Westside 2020 is being held at PRYZM Birmingham on 26th January 2020. 

Link to the images from #WOWS20:

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a Trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to The Asian Today.

@jassansi 07930 837 505


2020 Vision for Brum

Jas Sansi looks forward to 2020 and sets out some of the incredible highlights our region will be celebrating as we enter the new decade. 

Snowhill 15.JPG

2020 will be a fantastic year for Birmingham and the West Midlands. Liverpool have all but mapped out the victory parade for their first ever Prem title, but closer to home West Bromwich Albion have firmly set their direction on automatic promotion back to the Premiership. 

And what a year it will be if that happens, 2020 marks the 100th year since the Baggies etched their first ever win in the Football League. 


Villa lifted the FA Cup in the same year beating Huddersfield Town 1-0 

At the risk of upsetting my Birmingham City FC friends, Blues hammered Midlands rival Nottingham Forest, 100 years ago in 1920, 8-0 in a season which saw 40,000 fans pack into St Andrews. 

Beyond the realms of sport, what else will the city region be celebrating as we enter a new decade? 

The Canal behind Centenary Square was extended in 1820 to create a Wharf and laying the foundation of Brum boasting more canals than you know where 200 years ago. 

Canals6 copy.JPG

Birmingham Evening Mail, previously known as The Birmingham Mail would have celebrated its 150th birthday in 2020, had it not reverted back to its original name a few years ago. Habits die hard in Brum and it’s still known by many as The Evening Mail. 

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra mark their 100th birthday since Sir Edward Elgar conducted their inaugural symphony concert in 1920 at Birmingham Town Hall.


Cleveland Tower, Birmingham’s tallest tower block, turns 50 in 2020. Located opposite the Radisson Blu hotel, the tower comprises 31 floors.


2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Black Sabbath’s self titled album credited as the first album in the heavy metal genre.


The NEC’s Arena is 40 years old in 2020, it’s now called the Resorts World Arena having started it’s journey as the Birmingham International Arena. 


The very first Aldi in the UK turns 30. Stechford in East Birmingham was chosen as the first site for the German discount food supermarket chain. 

Hyatt Regency in Birmingham’s Westside BID also turns 30 in 2020. The new General Manager, Mohammed Labban joins the hotel’s team at a very exciting time for the city. 


The Regeneration of Birmingham has seen the city region transformed over the last two decades, and The Mailbox which is 20 in 2020 is right at the heart of this incredible change.

Mailbox 29

Just as the ribbon was cut on this upscale retail destination, the bulldozers moved into the old Bullring.

05 Bullring.JPG


With lots to look forward to, may I be the first to wish everyone a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. 

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to The Asian Today Newspaper 

@jassansi   07930 837 505