Business

All set for a Titanic bash as Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards celebrate milestone 10th anniversary

FLASHBACK: How the Irish News front page of June 22 2007 reported in the inaugural Workplace & Employment Awards
Gary McDonald Business Editor

TONIGHT is a landmark occasion for the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards as the initiative marks its 10th anniversary.

Close to 600 guests will dine on Bushmills Whiskey curd salmon, dry aged fillet of beef and wild hedgerow strawberries in the luxurious surroundings of Titanic Belfast, which hadn't even been dreamt up when we launched the awards in 2007.

As our awards have evolved, much else has changed in the last decade, and a dip into the Irish News business pages of this month in 2007 includes these interesting findings:

:: There was relief all round for home-owners when the Bank of England chose to keep interest rates on hold at – 5.25 per cent.

:: The Victoria Square development was exactly one year away from completion.

:: The north's pubs trade appeared buoyant, with Botanic Inns snapping up the Whiskey Haw in Newtownards for an undisclosed sum

:: The first phase of the £3 billion development of the Titanic site was unveiled comprising 475 apartments, 120-bed hotel and 150,000 ft of office space.

:: US strategist Howard Wheeldon expressed fears of the consequences of high risk lending in America. He said: “What's happening here right now may haunt the markets for some time to come, and I believe the effects will be spread over many weeks and months.”

Yet despite the many local, national and global changes in the years that have followed, the one constant is that businesses and organisations, from the largest plc to the most modest SME, remain utterly dependent on their people resource to function and prosper.

And since their inception 'people power' has been the over-riding feature of the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards, which are unique in the market in that they focus not necessarily on profit and loss sheets, but on the positive work companies do with their people.

Tonight will see more than 20 awards and commendations handed out on a gala evening in Titanic Belfast, when the impressive winners' list include a number of blue chip local companies as well as other innovative firms which are seldom thrust into the spotlight.

The event will be hosted by award-winning BBC journalist Karen Patterson (she has compered these awards every year since their launch), assisted during the prize-giving by top comic Paddy Kielty.

Following a drinks reception courtesy of Diageo, the formalities will commence with a welcome from Irish News editor Noel Doran and then a keynote address from a senior Stormont politician.

After dinner, guests will be treated to a presentation from Northern Ireland-born entrepreneur Alyson Hogg, founder of Vita Liberata tanning technology, who will share her phenomenal success story.

The awards have been supported by a number of key business partners again this year, including Tughans (it has been our partner for all 10 years), Kingsbridge Private Hospital, Ulster University, Phoenix Natural Gas, the Department for Employment & Learning (now Department for the Economy), Delta Print & Packaging and Titanic Belfast.

Irish News marketing manager John Brolly said: "It's fantastic to have reached this significant milestone, and we are delighted that our awards are now widely acknowledged as being a showcase for the talented people we have in Northern Ireland.

"The feedback we've received from our winners down through the years highlights the hugely positive effect winning an Irish News Workplace & Employment Award has on their business."

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