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IQ Excellence Awards - Shining a light on industry excellence

IQ Excellence Awards
IQ Excellence Awards

First published in the August 2020 issue of Quarry Management as Shining a light on industry excellence

How the IQ Excellence Awards has become the platform to promote the positive impact of the industry and the profession

Last year the Institute of Quarrying (IQ) launched its ‘Creating Future Leaders’ strategy at the Fellows’ Lunch. The strategy set out the vision and role of IQ in the mineral products industry.


It articulated four objectives for IQ to pursue:

  • Be the global leader in standards for the mineral extractives profession.
  • Drive innovation and operational best practice.
  • Support the industry in driving healthy, sustainable workplaces.
  • Promote the positive impact of the industry and the profession.

The IQ Excellence Awards has become the platform for IQ to work towards the aim of promoting the positive impact of the industry and the profession.

James Thorne, chief executive officer of the Institute explains: ‘The IQ Excellence Awards are an opportunity for the mineral products sector to celebrate the success of those individuals and teams that are actively driving the industry forward. We want to showcase the innovations and projects that are happening now to share best practice, but also to inspire others outside the industry. We believe that by demonstrating how the industry embraces innovation and supports the people who work within it, this is how we can motivate others and encourage new people into the industry.’

The inaugural awards were open to everyone working in the mineral products sector. People could self-nominate or nominate others via an online platform. Judges were recruited from across the industry and used the same online platform to score entries.

Shortlisted award entries went forward to four regional Awards events; the first, for the Northern region, took place in Newcastle in September 2019; followed by Northern Ireland in October 2019; Scotland in November 2019; and a combined Southern region and Wales event, also in November 2019.

Originally, the regional winners were going to face it out at an awards ceremony to be held alongside Hillhead to find national winners. With coronavirus forcing a delay to both events, IQ decided to award all shortlisted national awards as winners of this year’s national title. 

‘We didn’t know what to expect when we launched the awards,’ says Sarah Fry, head of membership and marketing at IQ. ‘But we had such positive feedback. Really strong award submissions from operators and industry suppliers from all over the UK. It was challenging for our judges to find outright winners in many of the categories.’

The award categories are aligned to the IQ Skills Wheel – the platform that IQ members use to develop their all-round knowledge across different skills areas – and were designed so that teams and projects could be recognized along with individuals (see over for winners).

IQ’s Sarah Fry said: ‘Our congratulations to each of our national award winners. They are all shining examples of the dedication and commitment of professionals working in our industry. We have been so grateful for the support we have had since the launch of the IQ Excellence Awards. They have been well-received by our members and the wider industry and we look forward to continuing with the Awards programme. 

‘The aim of the awards is to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of people and teams across the industry, and as the recovery post-pandemic begins, we feel that it will be more important than ever to shine a light on those achievements.’

The IQ Excellence Awards will be open to all again later this year for new submissions and award nominations to find next year’s national award winners. An awards dinner will be held on 23 June 2021 at the Devonshire Dome, Buxton.

Follow #IQAwards on social.

Standards & Professionalism 

Standards and professionalism are the cornerstone of the industry. These awards reflect the advances of individuals and teams that create best-practice solutions that support industry regulations and standards. 

The Best Personal Development Project award recognizes initiatives that are aimed at supporting the professional development of employees. 

Two winners in this category focused on training. Through their ‘Conveyor Confidence Through Understanding’ project, Rema Tip Top Industry UK Ltd were the Northern winners by providing a specific training, assessment and auditing package to address the issue of belt conveyor safety and maintenance. Chepstow Plant International, Southern & Wales winners launched a new learning development department to address employee engagement and professional development.

The Northern Ireland winners, Quinn Building Products, focused on improving access to health and safety information for their employees and contractors. They developed a digital solution for their health, safety and training management system that was integrated across all their divisions.

The Health & Safety Individual Excellence award recognizes the achievements of an individual in improving health and safety performance. Winners in this category were recognized for their contribution for a specific issue or their dedication in driving standards across the industry.

Brian Binnie from Denfind Stone won the award for Scotland. Denfind Stone are a family business committed to locally sourced, high-quality products that are produced sustainably. When the issue of silica dust was raised, Brian and his team worked hard to understand the health and environmental impacts and engage with the local community to address their concerns.

Ben Williams, managing director of EPC-UK (Northern winner), was recognized for his leadership in providing a safer and healthier working environment for employees. Mary Carter, director at ELC Vocational and Assessment & Safety (Southern & Wales winner), makes the industry a safer place by being an industry ambassador representing the South East Quarries Landfill Group, IOSH Environment and Waste Management group and IQ London and Home Counties branch.

Knowledge & Innovation 

Embracing knowledge and innovation is what pushes the industry forward.  These awards celebrate the advances in operational systems and processes and the people that make them happen. 

The Most Effective Process Improvement award recognizes a team, project or initiative that has delivered improved operational performance. This was one of the most hotly contested categories and the winners showed what can be achieved with a fresh focus on existing processes.

BAM Ritchies (Scotland winners) have been drilling and blasting at Glensanda Quarry for 11 years and in that time have sought to continually improve their process. This project set out to safely produce rock fragments suited to the loading machines and crusher. With zero lost-time injuries, BAM Ritchies improved their process to increase efficiency and reduce fuel usage.

Similarly, Aggregate Industries (Northern winners) were recognized for their Wash Plant Improvement Project which more than doubled production of highly valuable products by adding a crushing circuit. The process was overhauled and improved product quality alongside outstanding housekeeping.

Other winners looked at how technology could improve operational performance. CDE Global Ltd (Northern Ireland winners) and Smiths Bletchington (Southern & Wales winners) were part of a project that embedded smart sensors, cloud-based architecture and a user-friendly web application at a sand and gravel plant. Smiths Bletchington were the pilot site and benefited from significant cost savings and performance improvements. The project involved the whole team who embraced the technology and the operational advantages that it brings. There was a quick return on investment, showing that technology can deliver real continuous improvement with a positive impact on the bottom line.

The Most Innovative Leader award recognizes individuals who have made a significant impact at site, business unit or organizational level.

Robin Gillespie, area operations manager at Hanson UK (Northern winner), is the first student ever at the University of Derby to achieve a first-class Honours Degree. His dissertation looked at the benefits of using electronic delay versus pyrotechnical detonations for quarry blasting, the outcome of which is now widely acclaimed by Hanson UK for its innovative findings.

Philip Brain of Philip Brain Associates Ltd (Southern & Wales winner) has served the industry for more than 40 years. The judges recognized that through EMPI Awards, he has provided the sector with a solution that supports apprentices and improves safety through ensuring competence.

Engagement, Influence & Impact 

Engagement, influence and impact reflects how we interact with colleagues across the industry and the communities we live and operate within. These awards showcase great examples of teams working together to demonstrate the value of our industry to a wide audience. 

The Best Community Engagement Project award recognizes projects where sites are actively engaging their local communities and achieving positive results. This category really shows the creative ways that operators reach out to those beyond their sites and demonstrate the value of what the industry does.

Breedon Group (Scotland winners) noticed that they had either a quarry, asphalt plant or concrete plant near to almost every Highland League team. By sponsoring the Highland Football League, they show commitment to local communities and it provides a platform to liaise directly with local contacts.

Longcliffe Quarries Ltd (Northern winners) developed a collaborative project with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation that resulted in a nature reserve for local people to enjoy. Hoe Grange Quarry is the first butterfly reserve in Derbyshire and home to more than 20 different butterfly species.

Raymond Brown Quarry Products Ltd (Southern & Wales winners) used education as the driver for their Raymond Brown Community Matters Initiative – a far-reaching community campaign that has a lorry design competition as a key part of the programme. Local school children are invited to create designs for the cabs of the company’s vehicles based around the theme of recycling.

The Most Inspirational Leader award recognizes an individual who has made the strongest positive impact on the team they are part of.

The IQ is made up of many unsung heroes who give their time and commitment to supporting members and Susan Arnott (Northern winner) was recognized for her tireless efforts in helping the IQ North of England branch. 

Emily Burridge, technical production manager with Hanson UK (Southern & Wales winner), was recognized for her passion in promoting opportunities for women in construction. Emily appeared across several media to promote STEM subjects and industry opportunities which led to her being nominated for a Women in Science and Engineering award. At the same time, Emily is a STEM ambassador – visiting schools to give career advice and help raise awareness of engineering and apprenticeships. 

Kieran Hegarty, president of Terex Materials Processing Division, was the Northern Ireland winner. A driving force behind Terex Materials Processing, under his leadership the business has become an innovative global leader. Passionate about developing people, he encourages training and development of staff and builds teams through positive engagement. 

Personal Effectiveness 

Successful professionals within our sector are aware of their own personal attributes and how to develop their skills in different areas. The Personal Effectiveness awards celebrate those that strive to improve team performance for the benefit of everyone. 

The Best Initiative to Engage Workforce or Team award recognizes the best initiative aimed at supporting workforce engagement at either site or company level.

Northern winners, EPC-UK, won their award for their ‘Commit to be Fit’ initiative. Available to all employees with the aim of raising awareness around health and well-being at work, the scheme encourages staff to take active interest in their health and provides support and guidance on various topics from nutrition and exercise to mindfulness.

A very different initiative won in Southern & Wales where Influential Management Group received their award for the Interesting Health & Safety Podcast. Colin Nottage has extensive industry expertise which he shares through an accessible format with the aim of reaching as wide an audience as possible.

The Most Promising Future Leader award recognizes a talented individual for building their all-round knowledge and skills. What is striking in the list of winners is the role that the University of Derby plays in developing the industry’s future talent.

All parts of the UK were represented from the University of Derby alumni that feature prominently in this award, from Northern Ireland, relative newcomer Ryan Reid, graduate mechanical engineer at Roadstone Ltd, to Scottish winner, Bartosz Smoczek, trainee operations manager at Breedon Group and previous recipient of the IQ Springbank Quaich award.

Tom O'Boyle, project manager at Hanson UK (Northern winner), did extremely well on the higher apprentice programme, displaying great teamwork and leadership skills, sharing knowledge and encouraging others when working on project tasks.

Daniel Jones, aggregate section leader with Tarmac (Southern & Wales winner), joined the higher apprenticeship scheme whilst at Cornelly Quarry, the largest limestone quarry in South Wales. Dan’s achievements stood out because of the good breadth of experience he has acquired over a relatively short period, shouldering responsibility at several sites. He has found time to complete industry qualifications and actively encourage young people in the industry with his own promotional videos to show the opportunities that the industry offers.


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