Celebrating automotive excellence in the North East of England

Over 240 people gathered at the inaugural North East automotive awards organised by the UK’s largest automotive cluster the North East Automotive Alliance.

Friday 9 February 2018 – Best Western Roker Hotel, Sunderland. The North East’s brightest youngsters and best companies from the region’s automotive sector have been recognised at the inaugural NEAA Annual Awards with MAKE it Sunderland as headline sponsors.

Cllr Harry Trueman, Deputy Leader, Sunderland City Council who presented the Special Recognition Award, sponsored by MAKE it Sunderland said: “With more than 240 companies operating in the region, 25 of which are tier one suppliers, the North East has built, and continues to grow its reputation in the global automotive industry. We are witnessing unprecedented levels of productivity, investment and collaboration, so there is plenty to celebrate; we are delighted to have been Main Sponsor for the inaugural NEAA Annual Awards”.

240 industry guests attended the inaugural event where £18,000 was awarded in support of the region’s future automotive talent. The key note speech was provided by Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the SMMT. Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said: “The automotive industry probably faces more challenges – simultaneously – than any other sector with electrification of vehicles, connected and autonomous cars, digitalisation of manufacturing and disrupters. Automotive companies from the North East and across the UK must face these challenges and exploit the opportunities they create and that means investing in technology, in facilities and, especially, in people. The award winners tonight are exemplars of that approach and are credit to the industry. The fundamentals of UK automotive manufacturing remain strong and there are many more companies delivering innovation and excellence. Continuous improvement is essential if we are to ensure the UK remains a global centre for automotive excellence.”

The NEAA Annual Award winners 2018 were:

• Special Recognition Award, sponsored by MAKE it Sunderland - Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK)

• School Engagement Award, sponsored by Invest South Tyneside - Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK)

• Apprentice Award, sponsored by North East LEP - Alexander Park, Nifco UK • Graduate Award, sponsored by North East LEP - Virginia Elton, Calsonc Kansei

• Scale up Business Award, sponsored by RTC North - AVID Technology Group

• Innovation Award, sponsored by University of Sunderland - Hyperdrive Technology

• Trade and Investment Award, sponsored by Comau UK - AVID Technology Group

• Business Competitiveness Award, sponsored by Gateshead College – Adient

• Outstanding Contribution Award, sponsored by Resource Management Solutions NE - Mike Matthews MBE, Nifco UK

The Apprentice of the Year Award went to Alex Park of Nifco UK for his outstanding academic ability, early career progression and promotion of the industry to the younger generation. Chris Davis of Gestamp Tallent and Rhys Goulden of Unipress collected Runners Up awards.

The Graduate of the Year Award went to Virginia Elton of Calsonic Kansei who has quickly become a fully integrated valuable member of Calsonic’s Production Engineering Team Virginia (Ginny) Elton, Production Engineer, Calsonic Kansei said “It was an exceptionally proud moment for me to win graduate of the year, and nice to be recognised for the work I have done so far. I still have a lot of experience to gain and look forward to what the future brings. The evening itself was a fabulous evening which I thoroughly enjoyed”.  Alex and Virginia walked away with £1,000 cheques whilst Chris and Rhys received £500 each.

Whilst all other winners and runners up donated their winnings of over £15,000 straight to North East STEM projects or local schools in support of automotive or STEM projects with the aim of raising awareness of future career opportunities within the automotive sector NEAA Chief Executive,

Paul Butler said: “The inaugural NEAA Annual Award awards is an occasion to showcase automotive excellence here in the North East of England and to celebrate company success and individual winners. The level of entries into these awards and the quality of our winners really does reaffirm the regions position as a global centre of excellence for automotive manufacturing. “It’s vitally important for the future success of the sector that we have the right quality skills coming through the system and that we recognise and develop our future talent. With that in mind I was delighted that thanks to the support of our sponsors we have been able to award over £18,000 in support of future talent and STEM projects.”

Mike Mathews MBE, Managing Director of Nifco UK, winner of the Outstanding Contribution Award, said: “It’s a real honour to be recognised by my peers at these awards, a first for the North East Automotive Alliance, and an event which was perfectly executed - celebrating long-servers like me, right through to the industry’s emerging talent in apprentices. The North East of England is home to a world class automotive sector, one which competes with the whole world – and these awards are not only a celebration of the people and businesses making this happen, but of the fantastic cluster of advanced manufacturers that are helping to put the North East on the map as a thriving automotive hub.”

The awards evening was gratefully sponsored by MAKE it Sunderland, Bradley O’Mahoney Public Relations, South Tyneside Council, North East LEP, RTC North, University of Sunderland, Comau, Gateshead College and Resource Management Solutions.