Golden night for industry

BUSINESSES and workers from the Hartlepool and Billingham areas have struck gold at a glittering awards ceremony.

The North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) annual dinner was held at Hardwick Hall in Sedgefield and saw Hartlepool firm Exwold Technology and Billingham’s Johnson Matthey Catalysts and Fujifilm among the winners.

Chemical firm Exwold Technology won a manufacturing sustainability award and Exwold apprentice Pablo Gonzalez Olalla collected a young achievers prize.

Prize money worth £17,000 was awarded, with most of it going to local schools. Over the last five years, the NEPIC dinner has awarded £109,000 to young future leaders and to fund local school science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) projects.

The evening was compered by TV presenter Wendy Gibson, while former Olympic athlete Kris Akabusi spoke of his involvement in charity work.

Awards handed out on the evening included James Pickersgill of Billingham-based Johnson Matthey Catalysts being awarded as Apprentice of the Year, along with Jade Gofton of Sembcorp, based at Wilton.

Young achievers awards went to Mark Peacock of Fujifilm, which has a base in Billingham; Susan Daley of Aesica Pharmaceuticals (based in Cramlington and Newcastle), Andrew Miller of Wilton-based SABIC, Pablo Gonzalez Olalla of Exwold Technologies and Lu Chen of Billingham firm ABB Consulting.

The companies that win NEPIC’s prizes donate their winning £2,000 cheques to cement relationships with schools in their area.

Exwold’s prize for winning the manufacturing sustainability award went to Golden Flatts Primary School in Hartlepool.

The dinner also paid tribute to Bob Coxon OBE who retired his chairmanship of NEPIC at the end of last year.