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Whoo-hoo, The Muddy Awards have started! They’re back for the third year, celebrating the best lifestyle businesses in Oxfordshire & Bucks and aiming to help you lovely lot discover the most inventive, unique and superfab businesses in the region. They’re also launching in Hertfordshire for the first time which is superexciting!

The format is simple – you vote for the businesses you most love or appreciate in 28 categories in one easy-to-navigate form. It’s one vote per business please, and I’ll be checking (!) as there were some naughty little sausages in the first year’s competition who voted for themselves about a million times. Tut tut tut!

After the first round of voting the five businesses in each category with the most votes go through to the final which starts after Easter. This is an entirely transparent public vote, using my natty cocktail glasses showing the percentages moving in real time as votes are collected.

It’s not in my nature to be too preachy about stuff, but just for this occasion I’ve got a stick-on dog collar (attaching *now*…) and ask you to vote if you possibly can.

Reaching the Muddy Awards finals can be transformative for little businesses who gain the oxygen of publicity and a whole raft of new customers on the back of the Awards. They are companies that often don’t get a look in at the starchy (*yawwwwwn*) pay-to-enter ‘business’ awards (*thrwwwwwwwup!*). Also, by voting you’ll be letting other readers know about the cool stuff in your area which can only be a good thing.

So, what’s new this year? Well I’m quite fascinated by the double chin on my double chin (who knew that was possible?), my children are even more feral than in 2014, and I’ve developed a surprise crush on Mark Rylance.

In terms of the Awards, new this year are four first-time categories – Best Emporium (which includes vintage/ antiques centres); Best Jewellery Store; Best Art Gallery and Best World Food. With 28 categories you’re not expected to have opinions on everything, but flex your memory muscles and have a good go!

Also, swapping my dog collar for the begging bowl, pleasy please do spread the word about the Awards. If little businesses don’t know it exists, they won’t enter. We all appreciate our quirky, brilliant, unique local companies even if we don’t often show it, so this is our chance to have a big group hug. Come on, in you come and… squeeeeeeeeeze!

Vote here

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