Rising stars and woodworking success stories

BWF president Sean Parnaby speaking at the awards
BWF president Sean Parnaby speaking at the awards

An 18-year-old apprentice who helped land a six-figure business deal, a trainee cabinet maker with a mayoral bench to his name, a mass-market fire door, and a previously unsung health and safety hero have all been recognised in this year’s British Woodworking Federation awards ceremony.

One of the highlights of the night was the Project of the Year award, which went to an ambitious and beautiful Edwardian home restoration in Oxfordshire, masterminded by Gelder Joinery’s team of just ten people.

Graham Poll, one of the most successful English football referees, provided an entertaining after-dinner speech, referencing the infamous moment he issued three yellow cards at the World Cup final in 2006.

“In a landscape of economic and business uncertainty, there was a real sense of energy and positivity during the evening,” said Iain McIlwee, chief executive of the British Woodworking Federation. “People are genuinely proud to be in the woodworking sector and love what they do. From the many entries we had for the apprentice and trainee awards in particular, there is a sense that we are attracting some great new talent into the industry and offering rewarding career opportunities – something that needs to continue.”

In other categories: Apprentice of the Year was won by Oliver Walker of Gowercroft Joinery in Derbyshire; Trainee of the Year was won by Matt Brown from Warwickshire College; and Product Design in Wood award was won by Morland, based in Powys, Wales, for the design, innovation and technical excellence on its ABS Edge Banded Melamine Faced FD30 Fire Doors.

Process Efficiency award was won by AJB Group for its clear thinking and commitment to finding a solution to help drive their business performance and outputs forward. The company has invested heavily in its infrastructure over the past two years – over £2 million has gone into new plant machinery, a new factory and various processes.

Health and Safety Hero award went to Kevin Claughton of Cotswold Manufacturing in Stockton-on-Tees for his focus and commitment. By reviewing the COSHH arrangements and changes to the way hazardous waste was contained and stored at his business, Kevin was able to make a cost saving of £18K per year. Kevin was instrumental in Cotswold’s move to a new 89,000ft2 factory, and has now trained 96 colleagues on health and safety matters.