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A Night to Remember
Feature: 16/4/2009

xcitement and laughter filled the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel on 1st April as people from all over the working garment industry spilled into the superb venue to celebrate the winners of the 2009 Business Manager Awards. Greeted with a champagne reception, guests were then invited to settle down to a superb three-course dinner in the elegant surroundings.

Once appetites were sated, joint managing director of the Workwear and Corporate Clothing Show and award organiser Yvette Ashby led an emotional start to the proceedings. Expressing how much the industry meant to her, she then welcomed on stage the evening’s host, British fashion designer Jeff Banks, who, having designed uniforms for over 15 years, admitted that the industry had ‘got under his skin.’

Director-e managing editor John Gibbon is another man who has seen it all in the textiles industry, and he gave an emotional speech when presented with the Outstanding Contribution to the Industry Award.

Upon collecting his award, an overcome John said: “Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not usually lost for words – but this has floored me!” John, who has worked as a journalist in the textile industry for more than 50 years, added: “Being given this award was a total shock – I could never have imagined receiving this sort of recognition. Not surprisingly, I will remember that moment for ever.”

Campbell Bland of Lenzing Fibres was awarded the director-e Lifetime Achievement Award for his work over the past 30 years in yarns and fibres, with the most recent being the introduction of fibre TENCEL® to the workwear and corporate clothing market.

Campbell said: “I'd like to say a very big thank you to director-e for this award, which means a great deal to me. The textile industry, as I'm sure many people will agree, can get into your blood and I've made many good friends and had a lot of fun over the years!”

Feelings ran equally high throughout the presentation of the Business Manager Awards. PPE category winner Kate Salesse told the audience she felt ‘a bit of an impostor’ because she wasn’t a business manager but in fact Greater Manchester Police’s assistant director for forensic services. But going beyond the call of duty was precisely why Kate was worthy of recognition.

Collaborating with Microgard to develop the first disposable suit for crime scene investigators, Kate demonstrated unparalleled commitment to her staff, with an enthusiasm and vision that has led to the creation of a whole new market. Winner of the corporatewear category Tina Milton also stood out for her desire to make a difference. As easyJet’s head of cabin services, she has no experience in design or clothing but refused to allow it to stop her.

Through listening to colleagues and using her own personal experience, Tina was able to develop a new uniform that involved staff in every part of the process. This was achieved through innovative means such as road shows, design competitions and an internet vote.

Royal Mail’s Bob Taylor won the workwear category for his commitment to sustainability and for a comfortable and practical wardrobe designed to meet the strong physical requirements of its wearers.
The grand finale was the presentation of the Business Manager of the Year Award. This went to Virgin Atlantic head of uniforms Karen Sparrow. Since joining Virgin Atlantic in 1987, Karen’s hard work and long-term commitment to the industry have contributed to the development of uniforms that have become, in a word, iconic.

As well as strengthening the Virgin Atlantic brand, the uniforms have set a benchmark for the rest of the industry in terms of quality, design innovation and sustainability. Karen has taken an active role within the industry by taking part in conferences, workshops and forums, making her the perfect recipient for this award.

Drawing on Virgin Atlantic’s striking TV commercial, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Relax’ anthem blared out of the speakers and on screens as the result was read out, while models dressed in the award-winning cabin crew and pilot uniforms appeared out of nowhere to sashay across the stage and provide an unforgettable climax to the evening.

To top it all off, the silky tones of three Motown singers left many crying out for more as guests poured onto the dance floor to show off their best moves. It was wonderful to see everyone enjoying themselves and thank you to all who attended this inaugural event and helped to make it such a special evening. Congratulations also to all the winners and finalists and a big thank you to the sponsors: INVISTA’s CORDURA® brand and Cat Workwear for making the awards possible.

click on a picture to magnify
 Outstanding Contribution to the Industry Award: 

John Gibbon - Managing Editor
Corporate Clothing director-e

 Business Manager of the Year 2009:

Karen Sparrow - Head of Uniforms
Virgin Atlantic, Supplied by Dimensions Corporatewear

 Director-e Lifetime Achievement Award:

Campbell Bland - UK Market Manager
Lenzing Fibers

 PPE Category:

First place:
Kate Salesse - Assistant Director for Forensic Services
Greater Manchester Police, Supplied by Microgard

Second place:
John Cairns - PPE Officer
Strathclyde Fire & Rescue, Supplied by Lion Apparel

  Third place:
Nigel Alexander - Vendor Manager for clothing
Arco, Supplied by Sioen

   Workwear Category:

First place:
Bob Taylor - National Uniform Manager
Royal Mail, Supplied by Dimensions Corporatewear

  Second place:
Val Teviotdale - Leicester City Council, Supplied by Queen Eleanor
  Third place:
Jenny Turner - Head of Purchasing
Go-Ahead Group, Supplied by William Sugden & Sons

   Corporate Clothing Category:

First place:
Tina Milton - Head of Cabin Services
EasyJet Airlines, Supplied by The Wensum Company plc

  Second place:
Jayne Richards - Corporatewear Manager
Barclays, Supplied by Incorporatewear

  Third place:
Darren Dowling - Purchasing Manager
Somerfield Stores Ltd, Supplied by Dimensions Corporatewear


Author: Catherine Christie
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