INTERNATIONAL events organiser Anita Watson, of Askrigg, in the Yorkshire Dales, has won a top award in the industry equivalent of the Oscars for the second time in three years.

Incredible Artists, which Anita runs with business partner Simon Watson, was the only British company to be nominated and the only one to have won twice.

In front of an audience of 5,000 people at the 33rd annual Special Events Awards in New Orleans, Anita collected the trophy for the best event entertainment concept and execution, for a pirate-themed party staged in Birmingham. There were 35 categories in all.

The award was especially significant for Anita, coming in a year when she was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer for which she is still undergoing treatment.

Since the diagnosis, she has raised nearly £30,000 for the charity Breast Cancer Care with a soul music concert at Tennants garden rooms in Leyburn, a Dales calendar – for which she took all the photographs herself – and a series of other small fundraising events, as well as continuing to work around the treatment sessions.

She said: “It has been a real roller-coaster of a year, in so many ways. We won a top award in a different category two years ago and honestly never expected to win again considering the competition we faced from companies all over the world. It’s a great honour. We are the only British company to have been nominated in 17 years and it’s a tough process of selection, meeting different criteria set by the judges.”

The Pirates party for 1,500 guests involved a professional stunt team, pirates on stilts in a boat, and character lookalikes from Pirates of the Caribbean.