The judging panel of the Dorset Echo Industry Awards said they had a tough task picking this year’s finalists.

The panel included Dorset Echo editor Diarmuid MacDonagh, Richard Drax MP, Julia Cohen head of external partnerships at Weymouth College, Alan Burt of Weymouth Rotary Club and Andrew Knowles of Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce.

Mr Knowles said: “There has been a good number of nominations and entries in each category. It makes it difficult to judge.”

Ms Cohen added: “There’s been some really good stuff, there’s a very diverse range of businesses involved. It’s good to see so many businesses engaging with the awards.”

Speaking about her role at the college she added: “My job is to make sure we are involved with the community events and support local businesses. We are using the competition to showcase the talent of students and what the college offers.”

During the judges meeting Ms Cohen brought the college’s therapy dog Charity along, and said she had been helping the panel make some hard decisions.

Last month the college was announced as the event’s sponsor and the awards ceremony, where the winners are announced, will be held at the Dorset Training Academy on Friday, June 15.

As well as this, the college has sponsored two categories – Best Apprentice Employer and Best Dining Provider, which is being backed by the Dorset Training Academy.

Matthew Parkinson, head of catering at Dorset Training Academy said: “Eating out should be an experience - giving people the opportunity to unwind and relax whilst enjoying good quality food and service.

“A great dining provider is about so much more than just good food and service though. It is about creating an atmosphere, prioritising attention to detail and maintaining consistent standards which are always delivered upon.

“We are dedicated to discovering and developing the finest young chefs, restaurant staff and bartenders in Dorset and we are proud to sponsor this year’s Best Dining Provider award.”

The finalists of each category will be announced in due course.