The Worshipful Company of Builders’ Merchants hosted its annual City & Awards luncheon this year at Grocers’ Hall in London.
Nearly 150 members and guests came together to celebrate the achievements of individuals in the industry and within organisations the Company supports in training and education through its charitable fund.
Prize winners for this year’s BMF students were Ryan Edwards of Kellaway Building Supplies, Georgina Bennett of Robert Pochin Ltd and Paul Clifford of Elliotts.
Nominated by his tutor, Edwards was awarded an engraved tankard and a cheque for £1,000 for ‘Best Student’ on the BMF Diploma in Marketing.
Bennett received an engraved goblet and a cheque for £500 for the ‘Trade Supplier Apprentice of the Year’ award. Her manager felt Bennett’s enthusiasm, and strong character and determination to learn and succeed in what can be a ‘tough industry’ for young individuals made her deserving of the prize.
Clifford was presented with an engraved goblet and a cheque for £500 for ‘Best Online Student’. He completed 58 courses at an average score of 85%.
Prizes were also awarded for achievements from within affiliated organisations, namely the 3rd Battalion, Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment; Her Majesty’s new addition to the Fleet, HMS Forth; the outstanding Beckenham and Penge Sea Cadets; and the City & Guilds of London Art School.
An additional part to this year was to introduce two new awards and also recognise the great contribution of the Livery and its members to building a new community space in a deprived area of London. Organised and led by the charity ‘Build Up’, over £20,000 worth of materials and tools were donated by builders’ merchants Lawsons and Lords and suppliers Makita and Toolbank. Buying Society NMBS purchased high-vis jackets and WCoBM donated £2,000.
Build Up gives young people the opportunity to run and manage construction sites, learn new skills, gain practical experience and see the real-life impact they can have through their work. The project involved designing and building a new public space at Aldriche Way Housing Estate in North London for local residents.
Fifty 11-23 year olds worked together to build a pergola and garden, with seating and table tennis on an area of tarmac that had been empty since the estate was built. In the words of Build Up’s Director Huan Rimington, “All young people need opportunities to fulfil their potential,” and this project certainly went some way to achieving that. So WCoBM’s new ‘Leadership Awards’ were presented to teenagers Joy Muiruri and Rokia Khelouda for their hard work on the project, come rain or shine, and in planning the opening event.
The last award of the afternoon was presented to Liveryman and Court Assistant Simon Lawson, Chairman of Lawsons Timber, Building & Fencing Supplies. Initiated by the Master Pippa Latham, this award is for Liverymen who demonstrate strong leadership and philanthropic insight, making a real difference in our industry and a tangible benefit to society.
Latham said: “Lawsons has a ‘triple bottom-line approach’ in that it aims to make a profit, give back to the community, and minimise its environmental impact. The spreading of its 'family values' into wider society illustrates how a Liveryman can make a difference to the lives of individuals.
“Lawsons’ apprenticeship and graduate training programmes attract people to the industry and present merchanting as a rewarding career choice. Simon is also active in driving an exciting initiative to employ ex-offenders. He has the ability and determination to find solutions to all aspects of a problem, so that he's working not just on employment but also on housing provision for ex-offenders, addressing homelessness, and social skills in conjunction with the Salvation Army. It is in areas like these that Modern Livery Companies can have a real impact.”
“The lunch was also an opportunity for members to invite ‘rising stars’ from their businesses so they could learn more about training and career progression in our sector, and network with senior industry and City figures. I hope we were able to give them a better understanding of our industry and how WCoBM supports it, and that they felt inspired to continue their development working with a stockist or manufacturer of building materials.”
All prizes were presented by the Guest of Honour General The Lord Dannatt, who during his speech had some wise and encouraging words for the young individuals and emerging talents in the room: “Set your goals, aim for higher and be the best!”
Pictured (L-R): Pippa Latham, Georgina Bennett of Robert Pochin Ltd and Guest of Honour General The Lord Dannatt.