THE GRANGE Hotel in St Paul’s was the venue for last night’s second City A.M. awards ceremony, introduced by editor Allister Heath as “an evening of celebrating all that is good about the City”.

Opening the event to the 500 City guests, Heath said: “It is vitally important that in a gloomy world where the headlines are all about the great economic problems facing our generation, we can all take some time out to actually celebrate the good news and those companies and individuals who are succeeding in such a tough environment.”

Back by popular demand to present the awards was the BBC’s Katie Derham. “Actually I demanded to be back,” Derham clarified, explaining that at last year’s party she enjoyed “the best dancing with drunken Scotsmen ever” in the club in the hotel’s basement.

And so to the awards, where Gerald Ronson’s daughter Lisa and his brother Laurence came along to watch the Heron International chief executive win the headline Personality of the Year award, in recognition of a 50-year career where he has developed 156 buildings in nine countries around the world and 15,000 residential units in the UK.

“And I invented self-service petrol stations,” Ronson told The Capitalist on his trajectory that has weathered three recessions and “major ups and downs”. So what are the property tycoon’s secrets for anyone hoping to emulate his success in business? “Focus, commitment, dedication and having passion for the industry you are in. To me, my business is my hobby.”

Also at last night’s awards were ex-England footballer Trevor Steven; Michelle Mone, the founder of Ultimo; Better Capital founder Jon Moulton; and Moulton’s former business associate Sir Digby Jones, the former director general of the CBI, who delivered a spirited defence of wealth creation. “Without you we wouldn’t be able to get out of this parlous state,” he told the audience. “If it wasn’t for the wealth business creates, there wouldn’t be a penny of taxation – and that is why tonight is important.”

Thanks also go to Saxo Bank, the headline sponsor of this year’s awards – “a true celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit and professionalism that exists throughout the City of London”, said chief executive Torben Kaaber. “The winners are a credit to the City, and Saxo Bank is proud to sponsor this year’s awards and celebrate the drive and focus that it has taken to win each category.”