Thursday, December 14, 2017

Inaugural Freight Transport Association Logistics Awards a Night to Remember

(and Doubtless to be Repeated after Such Initial Success)
Shipping News Feature
UK – Last night, in the plush surroundings of the Intercontinental in London's Park Lane, the inaugural Freight Transport Association (FTA) Logistics Awards took place at what transpired as a very pleasant evening for all concerned, offering a chance to fête those individuals and companies who have excelled in the past twelve months in the eyes of their peers. With a variety of categories and a truly excellent host in the shape of the, dare we say inimitable, Alistair McGowan, this looks set to be a recurrent event in the British freight and logistics calendar.

The scene was set by David Wells, FTA Chief Executive who thanked the sponsors before he introduced the President of the FTA and executive director of the CEVA group, Leigh Pomlett, whose job it was to give the main introductory speech, and he started by taking pride in the fact that 300 or so of the stalwarts of the industry had come out on such a freezing night to celebrate.

Mr Pomlett went on to cover many of the topics which dominate conversations throughout the sector. He opened saying how resilient the logistics profession is, with the ability to bounce back despite an infrastructure often not fit for purpose. He reluctantly moved to the elephant in the room saying that Brexit was the biggest challenge faced in generations by FTA members and ‘unhelpful’ at a time when the skills shortage was critical, despite all the efforts to promote jobs in logistics by the FTA with apprenticeship programmes, support for everywoman etc.

Staying on the theme, the FTA head pointed out that ‘Calais has not gone away’ and that the migrant problem was still very real and, as representatives of an industry which nets over £120 billion and gives work to two and a half million people in the UK, said the FTA will continue its work to both assess and influence government policy, whilst he gave thanks to his team at home and in Brussels making this happen.

An FTA team will in fact visit Downing Street shortly to raise these matters and Brexit was certainly at the top of the agenda with this very day’s vote defeating the government as MP’s decided they wanted a final word on the terms of departure before they pass into law. This affected the night in a very tangible way as the next speaker, Jesse Norman MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, had to excuse himself from attending due to the three line whip and Commons vote. Those present were instead shown a short video of his apology in which he praised the awards and the industry in general.

As is usual at these occasions the main beneficiary of the night was Transaid, the transport charity whose Chief Executive, Caroline Barber, illustrated the works being undertaken across Zambia such as the story of baby Inness, a case we covered in detail a few days ago. She also produced some staggering statistics, enough to satisfy any cynic as to ‘where the money goes’. So far Transaid trainers have trained almost 29,000 full time drivers to help make some of the most dangerous roads on the planet safer. They have seen almost 23,000 women and children under five avail themselves of the bicycle ambulances that are the only way the civilians can seek emergency medical help.

Ms Barber highlighted the case of Peter Tembo, a Transaid trainer who has regularly turned down employment with other agencies, at much higher rates of pay for a switch to a normal driving job, simply because he is passionate in what he does – making his country’s roads safer. The raffle for Transaid raised over £1,500 with a further £700 from the sale of a donated hospitality package for two tickets to see Manchester United versus Seville, whilst a direct appeal for sponsorship to send lorry parts to Africa raised a further £3000.

McGowan’s appearances on television have been somewhat less frequent of late but this event gave the man the chance to really demonstrate the range of his vocal and imitative skills. Boris Johnson set the scene followed in rapid succession by the regular ‘Mock the Week’ crew, a host of comedians were satirised before the world of football took over, the comic switching effortlessly from Roy Hodgson’s lisp to Jose Mourinho’s unmistakeable grumpiness.

McGowan is a naturally funny man and the world of sport was shredded before he ended on the most spectacular imitation of a Roger Federer interview, delivered at lightning speed in three languages simultaneously, a finish which brought a standing ovation.

And so to the Awards. The full list of winners from some fiercely fought categories are as follows:

  • Freight Carrier of the Year Sponsored by the Port of Dover
  • Winner: Delamode
  • Retail Shipper of the Year Sponsored by Multimodal
  • Winner: John Lewis Partnership
  • Logistics Partner of the Year Sponsored by Howard Tenens
  • Winner: TomTom Telematics
  • Most Innovative Product of the Year Sponsored by ASB Law
  • Winner: Cartwright Group
  • Logistics Champion of the Year for Essential Services Sponsored by Romex
  • Winner: Flogas Britain
  • Logistics Champion of the Year for Public Services
  • Winner: Pollution Team, London Borough of Croydon
There was one final accolade, the Logistics Lifetime Award given to an individual who had made a unique and lasting contribution to his chosen profession. This was collected by James Cooper, a man described by Leigh Pomlett as one of ‘enormous leadership and vision’ who, in his time with Associated British Ports and the development of the Hams Hall rail freight terminal amongst other achievements had ‘improved and transformed the logistics industry’.

Photo: James Cooper collects his Award from Leigh Pomlett as David Wells looks on.