The education achievements of a new generation of architectural ironmongers have been recognised and rewarded at the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers (GAI) Education Awards.

The GAI enrolled 287 students on its education programme this year, from 19 countries around the world. It is the only recognised programme in the world that leads to a qualification in architectural ironmongery to British and European standards.

Of the 60 students who achieved the Certificate in Architectural Hardware and 43 students who achieved the full GAI Diploma this year, 11 received Education Awards at the prestigious ceremony at the Marriott Hotel in London.

These top-performing students were all presented with cash prizes, medals or shields by GAI President, John Jefferies and guest speaker, former rugby star Martin Bayfield.

The highest possible recognition for outstanding achievement in the GAI Diploma, the Pinnacle Award, was given to Christine Hunter of WT Lynn of Stoke-on-Trent. This award is given to the student with the best aggregate results over the three years of the Diploma programme.

Ms Hunter is the second Pinnacle Award winner for her company which is a highly respected, family owned architectural ironmongers established for more than 30 years. She has been in sales administration for 10 years. She said: "WT Lynn has been a supplier of architectural ironmongery and locking systems for many years and has always given the fullest support to employees like me who want to increase our understanding of the architectural ironmongery business and improve the advice we can give to clients. The GAI Diploma is the essential qualification in this industry. Receiving the Pinnacle Award is a huge honour, and will help to motivate my colleagues too as they try for a hat trick!"

In a surprise announcement at the awards, the GAI Medal of Outstanding Contribution was also presented yesterday to Keith Maer, the GAI's education manager who is due to retire next year. There have only been four medals of this sort ever awarded, given in recognition of a recognisable, outstanding and lasting contribution to the Guild.

Gary Amer, chief executive of the GAI, said: "Keith's outstanding passion, belief, dedication and commitment to our education programme have been in evidence for many years and has manifested in many ways. He has simply been a true and devoted servant to the GAI, and thereby, the industry as a whole. His involvement with education spans being an education committee member, committee chairman and more recently our Education Manager."

The GAI is the only trade body in the UK that represents the interests of the whole architectural ironmongery industry, including architectural ironmongers, wholesalers and manufacturers. It has been providing an education, qualification and CPD programme for people within the industry since 1961. Its three-year Diploma covers all aspects of architectural ironmongery and is constantly updated to reflect changes in the industry. Every element of the programme has a practical application.

The GAI Education Awards event was sponsored by Laidlaw Interiors Group, and ASSA ABLOY sponsored the Pinnacle Award.

The full list of GAI Education Award winners is:

  • Christine Hunter, WT Lynn Ltd - Pinnacle Award and also 4th prize, Diploma
  • Christopher Del Vecchio, Laidlaw Interiors Group - 1st prize and Gold medal, Diploma, and shield for Top Scheduling
  • Ian Andrew Butland, Select Architectural Ironmongery Ltd - 2nd prize and Silver medal, Diploma
  • Sabrina Bettles, Abloy UK - 3rd prize and Bronze medal, Diploma
  • Matthew Cheung, Higrade Ltd - 5th prize, Diploma
  • Nelson Wong, DORMA Door Controls Ltd - Shield for Top Business Studies
  • Aidan James Brown, Mitchells Ironmongers Ltd - 1st prize, Certificate in Architectural Hardware
  • Chun Yu Tam, Tung Fat Ho Building Materials Ltd - 2nd prize, Certificate in Architectural Hardware
  • Siobhan Ann Steele, Exidor Ltd - 3rd prize, Certificate in Architectural Hardware
  • Clive Andrew Cory, Mercia Hardware Ltd T/A Eagledale - 4th prize, Certificate in Architectural Hardware
    Hoi Weun Kikkeny Chan, Key Technologies International Ltd - 5th prize, Certificate in Architectural Hardware.