At WRc’s kind invitation last Friday I attended the SBWWI AGM Awards Dinner 2012 at the Chesford Grange Hotel. The awards were in three categories: people; health and safety; and innovation. The latter one came out of Water Dragons 2012, a ‘Dragons’ Den‘ type process where shortlisted businesses had pitched ideas to water company representatives earlier in the day, and had demonstrated how their innovations addressed genuine water sector needs.

If I got my notes right on the night, the winners were as follows:

  • Health and Safety – Morrison Utility Services, for ‘Achieving Zero: Raising the bar in behavioural and process safety’, an initiative first introduced in 2010 and captured by their company mantra ‘Nothing that we do is so important that we cannot find the time to do it safely‘;
  • People – Daniel, for ‘Aqueduct Team Challenge’, where 65 Daniel, United Utilities and Site Electrical staff working on the Thirlmere Aqueduct gave a Kendal primary school a ‘once in a lifetime makeover’. This was described as a way for Daniel staff to develop by giving something back to the community instead of, as they put it, ‘going down the usual road of costly team bonding sessions held in hotels with plenty of teas, coffees and biscuits‘ (you can read more, with a photo, here); and
  • Water Dragons – RDN’s ‘Blocked Sewer Monitoring Containment System’, a novel probe transmitter to analyse and report on sewer blockages to handheld receivers or a network (more info here).

There were also two runner-up mentions. Morrison was ‘highly commended’ in the ‘people’ category for producing a four-minute animated film for primary school teachers to use to communicate the dangers of utility construction sites (‘Jack’s Lucky Escape – Communicating Safe Play to Schools’); StantonBonna was recognised for presentational flair in pitching the Perfect Manhole System to the Water Dragons on the day (i.e. to Simon Barnes, Yorkshire Water; Steve Kaye, Anglian Water; Richard Price, Southern Water; and Simon Rutter, Thames Water – NB. you can watch a video about the Water Dragons here).

It’s also worth mentioning we were entertained by a talented magician and a band on the night – and that over 900 GBP was raised for WaterAid. This all wrapped up a well-attended, positive UK water sector event where it was great to see innovation, investment in people/communities and health and safety recognised and rewarded.

Duncan Thomas

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