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Awards Lunch is great success

The RHA’s first Awards Lunch was widely regarded as a great success. We had more than 250 people in the Grand Connaught Rooms to hear a wide-ranging speech from our chairman, listen to the new Logistics Minister Mike Penning, and find out who had won each of our five new awards. RHA chairman Andy Boyle pulled no punches in reminding our principal guest of the industry’s concerns, focusing on the very poor state of much of our road network. He described our roads as “crumbling before our eyes” and very few of those present would have questioned that.

I would like to say how pleased I was that the day ran so smoothly and was so well received by those who attended. Congratulations to Chris Seaton, Kate Gibbs and Peter Shakespeare for their achievement in bringing the awards lunch together and making it so enjoyable for everyone who attended. I know times are very hard in the industry at the moment, but it is good to let our hair down sometimes, and the fact that so many people came along made it more than worthwhile.

You will find the list of award winners on page 12 and, while it might seem unfair to single out one for special mention, I do want to congratulate Val Smith on winning the Unsung Hero Award. Val chaired the RHA from 2003 to 2005 and anyone who knows her will agree that she is one of the most unassuming, charming and bravest “movers and shakers” in the industry.

In the opinion of the judges, much of what she has done for the industry has not received the recognition it deserves. When campaigning publicly for a better deal for her local members in Northern Ireland, she did so at considerable personal risk. She has given selflessly of her time to the RHA for many years, all while running and growing her haulage business, Bondelivery. And everything she has done for the haulage industry, especially in Northern Ireland, was achieved while bringing up a young family.

For many of those who attended, the highlight of the day was hearing from Mike Penning who, as Minister for Logistics, is without doubt one of the most important people for our industry. It is he who will make the significant decisions on new and changed legislation, so it was particularly interesting to hear what he had to say. The Minister’s speech covered a wide range of subjects, and we were very pleased that he chose our event to make the formal announcement that the Driver CPC regulations would not be ‘gold-plated’. That is a welcome sign that the government is listening, as was the clear commitment to tackle the issue of unfair competition from foreign hauliers. We await further details of their plans with great interest.