AN award-winning celebrant has revealed the names of two companies she has chosen to throw free corporate ceremonies for following a competition.

Manningtree town councillor Michelle Taylor has been creating ceremonies to mark weddings, the birth of babies and business milestones since 2011.

The 52-year-old former police officer, from Lawford, calls herself the Funky Celebrant and has been crowned the best celebrant in the East for two consecutive years.

Last month Michelle’s celebrant business, based in Manningtree, was named one of 100 trail-blazing small businesses around the UK selected for Small Biz 100 – part of this year’s Small Business Saturday which was held on December 7.

To celebrate making the top 100 list, Michelle ran a competition to give away a free corporate ceremony.

After trawling through online nominations for the competition, Michelle chosen not one, but two winners on December 1.

She selected Unicorn Studies, which is a co-working space for creative freelancers and based in Ipswich, as one winner and Station Hair and Beauty, in Mistley, as the other.

Michelle said: “I received nominations from supporters of businesses in both Suffolk and Essex, but it was so tricky trying to choose just one winner I decided to select joint winners.

"I’m thrilled to be able to offer free bespoke ceremonies to these two amazing small enterprises.

"Both nominations made a big impact on me; the applications were very persuasive and heartfelt although the organisations themselves are very different.

"Unicorn Studios has recently opened to offer creative professionals a place to work and meet other self-employed people.

"It’ll be fun watching them grow.

"Helping them mark the start of their journey will be a privilege."

“The other winner, Station Hair and Beauty, has grown over five years from humble beginnings in a garden summer house to a buzzing salon housed in Mistley’s train station building.

"Their hard work deserves to be celebrated.”

Michelle will be working with the winners to plan their bespoke ceremonies.

Jessica Wilson, from Station Hair and Beauty, said: “We’re delighted to have won this competition.

"We’ve worked hard to become the beauty and hair salon of choice for many customers from the local area and further afield.

"Moving into and renovating our current premises – Mistley train station – has allowed us to put our unique stamp on this stunning building, making it a lovely place to work and for customers to visit.

“We’re continually blown away by how well things are going – we evolve every season and the support we receive from customers makes all our hard work worth it. We can’t wait to mark our success with Michelle’s ceremony, and we’re very excited to see what our third year brings.”

Rob Simpson, from Unicorn Studios, said: "We've come so far in just six months, working hard to build a space with friends and family we are proud of, and that others want to be part of.

"Freelancing can be a lonely experience, and that spurred us on to open Unicorn Studios in the centre of Ipswich as an affordable, rentable space."