SURPRISED and ecstatic retailers were this week basking in the glory of becoming 2015 Reading Retail Award winners.

Businesses are now putting up the red stickers in their windows announcing to the public that they have been singled out as being best.

Mandy Champion, of Caversham Tiles, Donkin Hill, was crowned Apprentice of the Year are training to increase the business' presence online.

The 48-year-old took a Reading College course to learn about social media and marketing coming away with a level two diploma.

Mrs Champion said she was stunned to be announced the winner and said: "I think this award is traditionally for younger people but about entering and thought why not.

"We have increased our online audience and now have more interaction then just the website but with sites like Pinterest.

"It has translated into trade as we have been managing in a very tough market at the moment."

Matt Siatadan, owner of My Favourite Restaurant winner, Mya Lacarte said although they had reached the final in each of the six years the awards have been running it was the first time the Prospect Street restaurant has won.

He said: "This year we made it over the final hurdle.

"The Reading Retail Awards are great at highlighting businesses in the town and its getting better and better as more independent shops are opening up."

Mr Siatadan said he ran the restaurant on Saturday night and the general manager Alex Darke attended the awards.

He added that as a business they wanted to inspire other independents and create an scene to rival Brighton, Bristol and Bournemouth.

Owner of Terry's in St Martin's precinct, Caversham, Terry Woods was delighted to win the Favourite Shop category after dozens of nominations from customers.

It was the first time the family owned business had entered the awards and only did so was because it is there 35th anniversary of trading. He added that it may help them through what could be a challenging year ahead with the Caversham redevelopment. He said: "We are really pleased we won.

"We have had lots of best wishes and congratulations from people coming into the shop which is really lovely."

Rose Bryant, manager of the Card Factory, in Broad Street said she believes her charitable contributions led to being crowned the Manager of the Year.

Mrs Bryant, who has worked at Card Factory for eight years, said: "I'm really really pleased to win the award, we helped out at the Macmillan centre during fund raising days, we raised a lot of money for McMillan.

"I haven't done anything to celebrate yet but I think I will be doing something with the girls soon."