More than 500 guests packed into the magnificent St George’s Hall in Liverpool city centre to hear inspiring speeches and see awards given out to 13 businesses and individuals. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool city region’s booming £4bn maritime sector was showcased and celebrated at the biggest Mersey Maritime Industry Awards (MMIAs) to date.
More than 500 guests packed into the magnificent St George’s Hall in Liverpool city centre to hear inspiring speeches and see awards given out to 13 businesses and individuals from across the diverse maritime industry.
For the sixth year running, the host for the evening was BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin, and the theme for this year’s MMIAs was Navigating New Horizons. Guests heard from keynote speaker, Commodore Iain S Lower, Royal Navy, Head of Naval Staff.
Business of the Year was Offshore Painting Services and one of the most popular awards of the night went to Dick Welsh, former head of the Isle of Man Ships Registry who received the Maritime Ambassador’s Award in recognition of his “outstanding dedication and achievement” in the sector over the course of his life and career.
All the winners were selected using a combination of a panel of maritime sector experts and an online vote of the wider maritime industry across the city region. Diamond sponsors for the event were Peel Ports Group, Western Union Business Solutions, Kays Medical and Royal Haskoning DHV, Reception partners were law firm Hill Dickinson
The day before the MMIAs, Mersey Maritime chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke, had chaired the latest Maritime Nations Forum which included senior industry and Government officials from the UK and US. The event had taken place aboard the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales, berthed at Liverpool Cruise Terminal.
Addressing the guests at the awards ceremony, Mr Shirling-Rooke said that the awards had started in 2015 with a ceremony at Wallasey Town Hall with 120 guests. The scale of this year’s awards, he added, illustrated how the MMIAs were now “firmly in the national maritime psyche”.
He said: “I think it’s important to remind ourselves why tonight is just so important for our industry and our region. While this setting is undoubtedly spectacular this evening and the journey to get here is so much more than that.
“These awards were created to showcase you and your achievements, not just to each other, but to everyone. Reminding the rest of the country and indeed the world that this region has been and will always be a trading superpower. And this in a nutshell is Mersey Maritime’s job, to showcase this incredible region and to support you our industry to grow and prosper.”
He pointed out that as well as its Liverpool city region GVA contribution of £4bn a year to the Liverpool city region, its multiple sub-sectors employed more than 52,000 people with the local maritime sector forecast to grow by 16% in the next four years.
There can be no better example of this renaissance and the opportunities it brings than seeing the stunning HMS Prince of Wales berthed in our city this week, hosting the UK-US Maritime Nations Forum aboard.
“Having trade talks with our US counterparts discussing the opportunities for new and increased transatlantic trade, and being done all in our own city is an incredible accolade to the work of the people in this room.”
In his speech, Commodore Lower, added: “When Chris Shirling-Rooke asked me to speak this evening, I jumped at the chance because I wanted, on behalf of the First Sea Lord and the Royal Navy, to thank you – to thank all of you – for the warmest of welcomes that this fine, maritime city gave to your affiliated aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales.
“The relationship between the Royal Navy and the maritime sector, between the Navy and trade is long standing and goes right back to the beginning of our service 500 years ago. And as our country stands at a pivot, a potential pivot, to once again be a great maritime trading power, there is once again a very clear understanding of how important the Royal Navy is to trade and how important mercantile trade is to the Royal Navy.
“Liverpool is the home of the Royal Navy in the North West – the headquarters of the Navy Regional Commander, Royal Marine Reserve Merseyside, HMS EAGLET and the patrol vessels HMS Charger and Biter from Liverpool, Manchester & Salford University Royal Navy Units.
“Liverpool is clearly leading the way in the symbiotic relationship between nation and navy and for that we thank you.’
Full list of MMIAs winners is as follows:
- Rising Star Award, sponsored by the Royal Navy – Dr Cai Bird of Marlan Maritime
- Employer of the Year, sponsored by Kays Medical – Liverpool Boat Charter
- Engineering Company of the Year, sponsored by the Manufacturing & Technology Centre – Walker Engineering (NW)
- Micro Business of the Year, sponsored by Brookes Bell – Hughes Subsea Services
- Maritime Professional Services Award, sponsored by Fort Recruitment – Polaris Media Management
- Innovation Award, sponsored by Royal Haskoning DHV – Bibby HydroMap
- International Trade Award, sponsored by Western Union Business Solutions – Tapiit Marine
- SME of the Year, sponsored by Denholm UK Logistics – D Morgan
- Maritime Ambassador Award, sponsored by Beech Group – Dick Welsh MBE
- Environmental Impact Award, sponsored by Wirral Waters – Low Carbon Eco–Innovatory
- Positive Impact Award, sponsored by Tapiit Marine – Liverpool Seafarers Centre
- Maritime 2050 Award, sponsored by Maritime UK – Peel Ports
- Business of the Year, sponsored by Peel Ports – Offshore Painting Services