Oh, what a night...

The Water Industry Achievement Awards took place last month. The night was a spectacular success, and a chance to recognise the outstanding efforts of companies across the UK in the past 12 months.

May 21, 2008 will be etched in people's memory for two reasons - it was the night Manchester United and Chelsea contested the Champions League final in Moscow and, more importantly, it was when the Water Industry Achievement Awards took place.

Both events offered great excitement and anticipation, although the awards provided more action for the 250 guests who had descended on the International Convention Centre in central Birmingham - great entertainment, a charity raffle and auction in support of WaterAid, the Awards presentation, and a casino to round off the evening.

The event was organised by sister journals WET News and Water & Wastewater Treatment, published by Faversham House Group.

Following a drinks reception, WET News and WWT publisher Angela Himus got proceedings underway by outlining what the awards scheme is all about - recognising, rewarding and celebrating excellence in the water industry.

Before the eagerly anticipated awards were announced, award-winning comedian and host for the evening Jason Manford soon had guests laughing as he recounted stories about his beloved Manchester City FC, and problems over his water bill.

Having been regaled by Jason, a sombre mood fell across the room as Jack Carnell, managing director of South Staffordshire Water, spoke on behalf of WaterAid. He told guests about a recent visit he made with WaterAid to Africa, and how the local people there need help to access safe water among other things.

The raffle got underway with Jack picking the winners for some great prizes - iPod, digital camera, hamper, mobile phone and Birmingham City FC photograph.

Next up was the auction and, with Jack's words still ringing in their ears, guests dug deep once again for some fantastic goodies - a signed photograph of Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, football match tickets, concert tickets and an autographed photograph of ex-captain and now manager of the England rugby union team.

About £3,320 was raised at the Awards night which, WaterAid says, will pay for two school sanitation blocks in Nepal, helping 400 children.

Finally, the moment everyone had been waiting for. The Water Industry Achievement Awards got underway.

Southern Water scooped the Partnership Initiative of the Year for the second consecutive year, this time with 4Delivery, Holleran Mouchel Parkman, Clancy Docwra and Morrison Utility Services. The judges had been impressed by the synergy that the partnering companies had built up in delivering the utility's £1.8B capital development programme.

RPS Water and eSAY picked up the Innovative Technology Award, co-sponsored by Poly-pipe Water Management Solutions and White Young Green, for their pioneering Pinpoint mobile technology to efficiently detect leaks.

Southern Water walked away with the Community Campaign of the Year award for the way in which it continues to find innovative ways of keeping its Learn to Swim campaign topical.

Next up was the Sustainability Award, sponsored by Farrer Consulting, which went to South West Water. It was commended for its initiative to work with business customers to improve water efficiency.

Yorkshire Water's thought-provoking Risk Management training programme earned it the People Initiative of the Year Award. It is two years in a row that the utility has picked up this award.

On to the Customer Care Initiative of the Year Award, sponsored by ITT Water & Wastewater, and Southern Water made it a hat-trick as it took the award with Clancy Docwra for minimising customer disruption as they replace Brighton's 150-year-old water supply network.

Earlier in the day, Bournemouth and West Hampshire Water team-mates Danny Hunt and Peter Haslock had won the IWO Drilling & Tapping Tyco Trophy at IWEX 2008. At the awards evening, they were crowned IWEX 2008 Drilling & Tapping Champions.

May Gurney Integrated Services walked away with the Health & Safety Initiative of the Year award. The judges liked the company's Making a Difference in-house health and safety initiative, designed to establish what drives staff to take short-cuts or do things incorrectly despite the training they receive.

The last award of the night was for Outstanding Individual Contribution to the Water Industry, sponsored by Siemens. This went to Richard Ackroyd, chief executive of Scottish Water.

Unfortunately, a prior commitment meant he was unable to attend the evening, but Scottish Water's Chris Wallace was on hand to collect the award on his behalf.

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