A North East water company has swept the board at what is widely regarded as the utility industry ‘Oscars’.
Image from left, Ellen Bennett, editor of Utility Week, Heidi Mottram, Northumbrian Water’s chief executive, Graham Neave, Northumbrian Water’s operations director, Paul Galligan, managing director of sponsor comparethemarket.com, and compere Hugh Dennis.
Northumbrian Water won a record five of the seven categories it entered at the Utility Week Achievement Awards 2013, including the coveted title of Utility of the Year.
The top award was presented to the company’s chief executive, Heidi Mottram, at the awards ceremony held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London’s Park Lane on Monday. (December 9)
The other four awards were for Community Initiative of the Year; Environment Award; Marketing Initiative of the Year and Supply Chain Excellence.
Community Initiative of the Year
The title of Community Initiative of the Year was awarded to Northumbrian Water for its Just an Hour volunteering scheme. Employees are encouraged to spend at least 15 hours a year working on community projects of their choice, in teams or as individuals, during work time.
Last year, 54.4% of the workforce spent 16,246 hours supporting 695 different organisations, ranging from garden makeovers and decorating community centres to becoming reading buddies and business ambassadors.
When the original lagoon systems used in the process for recycling water treatment sludge at Hanningfield, near Chelmsford, Essex, were at the end of their useful life, an alternative solution was required for water production to continue on site. Tried and tested, energy intensive methods were available, but Northumbrian Water Limited, which operates in the south east as Essex & Suffolk Water, believed there must be a more sustainable solution.
After three years of research and trials, the world’s first natural reed bed system was installed in 2013 to sustainably manage the sludge and recycle the valuable water. The initiative, known as the Hanningfield Sludge Treatment Reed Bed system, was named as the winner of the Utility Week Environment Award.
Marketing Initiative of the Year
The Marketing Initiative of the Year award went to Northumbrian Water’s ‘Love your drain’ campaign. Launched in August 2012, the campaign featured mascot Dwaine Pipe in a bid to educate customers on how to prevent blocked drains in a positive, light-hearted and appealing way.
The campaign was developed after a steady increase in the number of blocked drains and sewers in recent years, costing Northumbrian Water more than £1.2m each year to clear. More than half of blockages were caused by the growing use of ‘disposable’ products, such as wipes, nappies and sanitary items.
Since the launch of the campaign, which included the cheeky slogan “Only toilet paper, pee and poo go down the loo”, Northumbrian Water has seen a 17.6% reduction in blockages.
Supply Chain Excellence
A long-term partnership with chemical company ICL to guarantee a reliable supply of ferric sulphate, used to produce safe, clean drinking water for more than four million people, earned Northumbrian Water the Supply Chain Excellence award.
Utility Week editor, Ellen Bennett, said: “Congratulations to Northumbrian Water for a hugely impressive showing at the Utility Week Achievement Awards. The judging panels for the five awards they won were unanimous in their praise of the company’s ambition, achievement and consistency. Well done Northumbrian, this really was your year.”
Heidi Mottram said: “The fact that we have won awards in five different categories, including Utility of the Year, emphasises the fact that we are committed to providing the best service possible, working for and with the communities we serve. It also demonstrates the one team ethos and dedication shown by everyone across the board at Northumbrian Water on a daily basis.
“Recognition such as this helps to cement our position as leaders in the water and sewerage industry and spurs us on to maintain the highest standards of service.”
The unprecedented success at the Utility Week Achievement Awards capped a fantastic year of recognition for Northumbrian Water. A string of accolades includes:
• Listed as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies
• Green Apple Award
• RoSPA Gold Award
• Business in the Community Platinum Big Tick
• The Queen’s Award for Enterprise
• CIPR Pride Awards Gold Winner
For more information contact Mike Chipchase on 0191 301 6720.