The Coventry and Warwickshire FirstPro Awards 2016 took place at the Ricoh Arena last month and Paul Rice (pictured far right) from Wright Hassall solicitors was one of six winners who took home awards at the glitzy event.

The gala dinner took place on the 21st April and was attended by over 250 professionals from the Coventry and Warwickshire area. Coventry and Warwickshire First, who run the FirstPro awards, is a membership organisation run by its members and the only one of its kind who represents the interests of the professional services in the region. The awards are designed to recognise and celebrate individual talent with each category celebrating an exceptional person within the relevant sector.

This year Paul won one of six awards handed out - the Property Professional award. Out of those six winners one is chosen as ‘FirstPro’. Individuals are nominated by colleagues and this year there was over 80 nominees with the finalists having been chosen before the night itself.

There are three criteria that each finalist must satisfy to take home the trophy. The judges are looking for: - performance at work (they consistently go ‘above and beyond’ what is required); - their contribution to Coventry and Warwickshire (they must give back to the community such as working with a local group or volunteering); - and the ‘x-factor’ (that intangible element that makes someone special).

On the night the winners were:

  • Property Professional: Paul Rice, Wright Hassall
  • Business Services Professional: Phil Ewing, Harrison Beale & Owen
  • Young Professional: Jenny Simpson, Stewart, Fletcher & Barrett
  • Legal Professional: Emma Gamble, Shakespeare Martineau
  • Finance Professional: Rachel Horner, SFB Tax Solutions Limited
  • Banking Professional: Ravinder Bagri, Santander Corporate and Commercial Banking

Jenny Simpson then took home the overall ‘FirstPro’ award.

Paul is a partner at Wright Hassall specialising in agriculture and primarily advising farmers, rural business owners and landowners about leasing, selling and buying property. He also advises on all aspects of domestic and European legislation as it impacts on farming and rural businesses. On winning the award Paul said, “It’s a very unexpected delight. I’m proud to be part of the agriculture team at Wright Hassall and the work we have achieved.”

Outside of work Paul is heavily involved in the rural community. In August 2014, Paul took over as chairman of CLA Warwickshire and has previously held the position of Warwickshire NFU Chairman. Paul is currently a director of the Warwickshire Rural Hub, a business support organisation which works to help farm and rural businesses to develop innovative, profitable and market-led enterprises across Warwickshire and Solihull. He also chairs the rural sub group of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Paul continues, “I enjoy the challenges that working in the agricultural community present and this past year has seen many ups and downs within the rural sector. I look forward to the coming year and hope to see a thriving industry.”

Paul’s win continues a great tradition for Wright Hassall at the First Pro awards. Two of Wright Hassall’s finest, Vikki Whittemore and Rachel Gwynne won awards last year in the Legal and Business Services categories and this year the judges decided to extend another accolade with a ‘highly commended’ mention for Jeremy Hyde who works in Wright Hassall’s Commercial team.

Congratulations to Paul and all the other winners from everyone at Wright Hassall!