The brightest and best female achievers in the house building and wider construction industries gathered at the Hilton in Manchester for the biggest ever Women in Construction awards this week.
Over 460 people attended the event, which was sponsored by Ardmore Construction, Atkins, Bam Construction, Chartered Institute of Building, Leeds Beckett University, Matchtech, Mears, Morson International, Mott MacDonald, Mount Anvil, Wedge Group Galvanising, Whitbread PLC and Willmott Dixon.
Now in its 11th year, the Women in Construction Awards was launched by Housing magazine and our sister title Builder & Engineer to champion those pioneering women making their way in what was very much a man’s world.
“While the construction sector has come a long way since those early days the playing field is still not level,” said Michelle Gordon, managing editor of Excel Media Solutions and editor of Housing magazine.
“But despite the challenges there are many remarkable women making their mark within the industry and the Women in Construction Awards continue to highlight the accomplishments of those women, acting as a stage to promote their achievements to the industry as a whole and to encourage more women into the sector.”
The event, which honours women, of all ages who are forging a career for themselves in the world of construction, as well as the organisations and companies helping their employees to develop their skills, has grown year on year.
“Over the past decade or so the reach of the event has grown, attracting women who are working across the globe in an increasingly wide range of roles and this year we attracted a record number of guests,” said Claire Cameron, editor of Builder & Engineer.
Broadcaster and journalist Jennie Bond was host for the evening. She regaled the audience with tales of her days as The BBC’s Royal Correspondent and her stint in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.
The guest speaker was the inspiring Debra Searle MVO, MBE, a professional adventurer, author and BBC presenter.
She first hit the headlines when she set out to row across the Atlantic in 2002 with her then husband and rowing partner Andrew Veal but when he was forced to retire just two weeks into the challenge, Searle, a novice rower, continued alone, rowing 3,000-miles from Tenerife to Barbados.
The race should have taken six weeks to complete, but she spent three-and-a-half months at sea on her own, encountering 30ft waves, sharks and force eight squalls in her 23ft plywood boat.
Our judging panel comprised Bridget Bartlett, deputy chief executive at Chartered Institute of Building; Professor Chris Gorse, director of the Leeds Sustainability Institute, head of the Centre for the Built Environment and professor of construction and project management at Leeds Beckett University; Lucile Kamar, equalities manager, RICS; Jane Nelson, executive director, Mears; Emma Richman, director of assets at Bury Six Town Housing, board member of Procure Plus and chair of the audit committee and Christine Townley, ambassador, Construction Youth Trust.
A prize draw raised £2,290 for the Construction Youth Trust and the evening was rounded off with an aftershow party featuring live music from Milomax and The Bandeoke Experience, giving members of the audience the chance to sing with a live professional band.
But the real stars of the show were the winners:
Best Apprentice – under 25
Winner – Becky Munro, Mott MacDonald
Best Apprentice – 25 & over
Winner – Lauren Chappell, UK Power Networks
Architect of the Year
Winner – Simone de Gale, Simone de Gale Architects
Engineer of the Year – Civils/ Infrastructure
Winner – Sophie Payne, Atkins Ltd
Engineer of the Year – Building/ Services
Winner – Elaine Bissell, Patrick Parsons
Engineer of the Year – Mechanical/ Electrical
Winner – Shuchi Jain, Powersys Ltd
Project Manager of the Year
Winner – Dr Giulia Privitera, UK Power Networks
Quantity Surveyor of the Year
Winner – Elsie Wood, Mace
Tradeswoman of the Year
Winner – Rebecca Russell, H&V Service Plan
Green Leadership Award
Winner – Julia Barrett, Willmott Dixon Rethinking
Rising Star Award – under 25
Winner – Sarah Mills, Willmott Dixon
Rising Star Award – 25 & over
Winner – Kate Francis, Arcadis
Award for Staff Development & Training
Winner – Mount Anvil
Business Leader of the Year
Winner – Christine Allen, R&W Civil Engineering
Mentor of the Year
Winner – Katie Shepherd, Gradon Architecture
Outstanding Woman in Construction
Winner – Tanja Smith, Gradon Architecture
Highly commended – Eilis McShane, Multiplex Construction Europe
Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner – Alison Lindsay, Whitbread