Industry celebrates the next generation at WCoBM luncheon

Excellence and dedication were the watchwords at the prestigious City & Awards luncheon, hosted by the Worshipful Company of Builders’ Merchants (WCoBM) on 18th March, 2024.

The event celebrated the next generation of builders’ merchants, giving them the opportunity to network with senior construction industry professionals and distinguished guests, as well as getting what was, for many, their first experience of a London Livery company.

The luncheon took place at Butchers’ Hall in London, bringing together Liverymen and Freemen of WCoBM, as well as representatives from the building products industry and the Livery’s affiliated organisations.

Now in its 12th year and a highlight of the Livery’s calendar, the City & Awards luncheon highlights the achievements of younger individuals within the merchant industry, as well within organisations the Company supports with training and education through its charitable fund.

The event also recognises wider industry achievements around environmental best practice through its ‘Caring for the Environment’ award, and the coveted Master’s award.

Liverymen and Freemen who attend the event can invite ‘rising stars’ from their own businesses, giving them the opportunity to learn more about the City Livery Companies and to network with senior figures from the industry. Also attending the lunch were 10 young merchants, organised by the Builders’ Merchants Federation (BMF), and a Mansion House Scholar.


This year’s Award winners included students from the BMF and the City & Guilds of London Art School.

The BMF student winners were:

  • Best Online Student: Jamie Baines, NP Group. Jamie distinguished himself by completing an array of online courses including health and safety training, supplier product courses, and personal development.
  • Outstanding Diploma Student: Ashley Rice, Howarth Timber. The BMF Diploma takes 18 months to complete and is the premier management programme tailored for individuals entering merchant management. It focuses on honing skills in people management, finance and operations. Ashley overcame personal challenges to secure a commendable 85% Distinction.
  • Apprentice of the Year: Owen Sutton, Keyline. Owen received the award for his exceptional work, consistently delivered early and to a high standard. His proactive engagement with the youth network, aimed at improving recruitment and retention, highlights his significant impact as a role model in the merchanting sector.

An award was also presented to members of the Build Up Foundation, a charity that runs practical construction projects where young people can design and build structures in their local communities. This year, the Build Up Foundation award went to Shyanne Ugboma, 14, and Jamie Austen, 20, who worked tirelessly to transform an unloved area of concrete and rubble at Hughes House, part of the Hughes House Field Estate in London, into a new community garden. Shyanne was praised for her resilience and positivity during the project, while Jamie received his accolade for his unwavering dedication, leadership and commitment.

Organisations affiliated with WCoBM were also present to receive awards, namely individuals from HMS Forth; the 3rd Battalion, Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (3PWRR); the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight; and the Beckenham and Penge Sea Cadets.

The ‘Caring for the Environment’ award acknowledges companies or individuals represented in the Livery who have gone above and beyond in the areas of waste management, manufacturing processes, packaging or product development to ensure greater sustainability or resource efficiency. This year’s winner was Heidelberg Materials UK, for its active, proactive and innovative approach in leading areas of sustainability, and community engagement. The company’s approach to Enhanced Rock Weathering was particularly innovative, with demonstrable carbon and waste reduction, while also safeguarding soil nutrients.

The prizes were presented by Guest of Honour Alderman Alastair King DL who, subject to election, will become the 696th Lord Mayor of London in November 2024. During his speech, Alastair said: “It’s really wonderful to see so many young people here today, and to see so many being celebrated. It’s a remarkable thing for the Livery Company to do; congratulations to all the winners for their hard work, and to the Livery for commemorating their achievements.”

Alastair also paid tribute to two of the women in the audience – Tessa, Lady Brewer OBE, Trustee and Vice Chairman of the No Going Back Foundation; and Past Master Dame Fiona Woolf, former Lord Mayor of London in 2013-2014. The Alderman noted that they have been “extraordinary assets to the City of London over many years, achieving really remarkable things”.

This year also saw the presentation of the inaugural No Going Back (NGB) Rising Star Award. NGB is a charity and social enterprise that WCoBM has been supporting for several years. It aims to rehabilitate ex-offenders, helping them to secure employment, lowering re-offending rates and transforming lives.

The recipient of the Rising Star Award was Nourdeen Al-Gharib, who was praised for his resilience and ambition post-release. He secured employment with Sir Robert McAlpine despite probation challenges, a serious bicycle accident and further personal setbacks, nevertheless enhancing his qualifications and skills with support from NGB and his employers.

The 2024 Master’s Award was presented to Past Master John Poore BEM for his work as Bursar of WCoBM, and for his personal charity work for the Lord’s Taverners and the Wooden Spoon Society, as well as many other good causes he has supported.

WCoBM Master Alan Hawkins said: “It is a delight to see so many people here today at our Company’s occasion to celebrate success within the builders’ merchant industry. It is my great pleasure to be able to present the winners with their awards and, of course, it gives us all hope that many of the young winners here will go on to thrive within the builders’ merchant industry and be able to join this Company themselves in a few years’ time.”

All the winners received a certificate or tankard to commemorate their award, as well as a financial contribution from the Company.

The City & Awards luncheon was kindly sponsored by Alumasc, Builders’ Merchants Federation, Encon, H+H, Keyfix, Keystone Lintels, Keylite Roof Windows, Lawsons, Marsh Industries, NMBS, Thor Hammers, TradeKart and Reisser, without whose support the event would not be possible.

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Managing Director, JKW PR & Marketing Tel: 07971 968611 Email: [email protected]

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