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Firms delighted to be ticked off.

Byline: By Graeme King

All that is best about North-East business's contribution to life in the region was celebrated yesterday in a heart-warming ceremony at Wallington Hall in Northumberland.

The Business in the Community Awards for Excellence were presented by the organisation's chief executive Julia Cleverdon in the grounds of the National Trust property.

More than 150 of the biggest names in North-East business attended the event, and heard Ms Cleverdon speak passionately of the need for business to properly engage with society to help solve its problems.

Five North-East companies received the sought-after "Big Tick" accreditation for their contribution to community life, along with numerous other individual winners. This was more than double the number of companies to qualify last year.

Ms Cleverdon said: "There's higher expectations of businesses today ( how they behave, how they treat their employees, and so on. And, here in the North-East, companies are stepping up what they are doing and how they are doing it ( in community achievements, skills, managing environmental impact.

"We try to share experience between companies, and inspire others who are not involved to become so."

Northumbrian Water chief executive John Cuthbert won arguably the biggest individual honour of the day when he was named as a new regional ambassador for BITC president, the Prince of Wales.

He joins last year's winner of the title, Sir Mike Darrington of Greggs, in the task of spreading the word about the wonders of the organisation's work in the region.

Mr Cuthbert's honour follows his company dominating the Business in the Community category in The Journal's North- East Business Awards this year ( winning two out of three sub regional prizes and the overall title.

The first winner of a Big Tick was in the Shields Environmental Impact category. The National Insurance Contributions Office was recognised for its "Unwrapping the Environment" project at its seven North-East sites.

This has integrated sustainable development into the everyday decision making of the organisation, and worked on waste minimisation and sustainable travel. These have saved money as well as helping the environment

Sunderland-based Arriva won its Big Tick for "Arriva in the Community", a mentoring programme to improve the employability and communication skills of pupils aged 14 to 15.

Another company with a large workforce in Sunderland, EDF Energy, also won through for community impact. The energy company, formerly London Electricity, has done a lot of work in an Education Action Zone, working with both parents and pupils to improve their basic skills levels.

Greggs was recognised for the second year running, through BITC's re-accreditation programme, for its Breakfast Club programme that ensures children get a proper breakfast before school.

Finally, Walkers Snack Foods, which employs 430 staff in Peterlee, got a Big Tick in the Skills for Life category.

It built a "Skills for Life Centre" three years ago which last year became a full-time LearnDirect centre, providing skills training for not just employees and their families, but also for the local community.

In addition to their success yesterday, both EDF Energy and Walkers have been selected to go through to the national final of the Awards for Excellence in London next month.

Bitc Cares Programme

Team: Northumbrian Water

Team leader: Val Nevin of the Inland Revenue's National Insurance Contributions Office (NICO) team.

Volunteer of the Year: Melanie Breheney, NICO.

Service Sector in the Community Award, sponsored by Eversheds and Service Network: ERS regeneration research Newcastle; Robert Muckle Solicitors, Newcastle.

Sieff Award, sponsored by Marks & Spencer ( for an individual, based in the community, who has best collaborated with business to benefit society: Louise Marsh of Byker Bridge Housing Association.

HRH Prince of Wales Ambassador Award

John Cuthbert of Northumbrian Water.

Big Tick

The Shields Environmental Impact Award: National Insurance Contributions Office, Newcastle.

Reed Elsevier and DFES Education and Lifelong Learning Award: Greggs plc, Newcastle (re-accreditation); Arriva, Sunderland; EDF Energy, Sunderland.

Skills for Life Award: Walkers Snack Foods, Peterlee.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 10, 2004
Words:650
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