Stars of the South West aerospace and defence sector were honoured at the WEAF Aerospace Ambassadors Awards celebration dinner at Bristol Museum on Friday night.
Organised by West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF), the inaugural awards celebrate the sector’s unsung heroes and shine a spotlight on their outstanding achievements.
Leading figures from the South West aerospace sector joined forces to honour the winners, with a keynote speech given by Peaches Golding OBE, Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of the County and City of Bristol.
The awards attracted scores of entries, with tight competition for the judging panel of independent recognised experts from across the region’s aerospace and defence industry, supported by sponsors including Artemis Optical, Osborne Clarke and SKF Aerospace, .
The South West has one of the largest concentrations of aerospace and defence capabilities in Europe and is the biggest aerospace cluster in the UK worth more than £7 billion.
Simon Young, Chief Executive of WEAF said: “Congratulations to all the winners – the brightest and best in the South West’s aerospace sector! And hats off to all the individuals who were shortlisted – the selection process was really tough as we had some outstanding nominations which illustrates the enormous amount of aerospace talent in the region.”
Jamie Pindard from Artemis Optical, said: “Artemis are proud to be a niche, high-tech SME within the South West Aerospace Cluster. We thought that it was important to sponsor this event as we are keen to recognise the achievement and innovation that individuals in the South West continue to exhibit and to wave the flag for smaller companies in the region to attract the next generation of aerospace employees.”
Douglas Peden from lawyers Osborne Clarke, said: "People are the lifeblood of every industry. The Awards celebrate exceptional contributions by individuals and teams in the aerospace sector and showcase the fantastic careers which the industry offers to people about to enter the world of work. This chimes with our own values and Osborne Clarke, with our long heritage of advising aerospace & defence companies, is delighted to sponsor the Awards."
Neil Tolson, Business Controller of SKF Aerospace Clevedon, said: “The South West has a wealth of talent and this is the right time to be celebrating that talent. SKF Aerospace is honoured to be supporting this, the inaugural Aerospace Ambassador Awards. Our industry contributes much to the national economy and we need to be shouting about it more. These Awards do just that.”
- Best Aerospace Design Engineer: Jon Moore, Rolls Royce – Filton, Bristol
Jon Moore has over 30 years design experience with high technology aircraft engines and is internationally recognised for his expertise on compression system design. One of the most technically challenging designs that Rolls-Royce has undertaken, due its unique installation and operational requirements, is the LiftFan for the F35B aircraft. The LiftFan provides vertical thrust capability which enables the F35B to be the world’s only stealthy Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) supersonic aircraft. Having been responsible for the initial conceptual design, Jon has continued to be deeply involved in the LiftFan design activities through to product introduction.
Jon Moore, Fan and Compressor Specialist at Rolls Royce, said: “It’s great to have worked as an Aerospace Design Engineer, which has given me an enjoyable and absorbing career, and now I’m really proud to have received this award for my work in this field. I’d also like to thank my great colleagues at Rolls-Royce who have supported me and who have also contributed to the design and success of our cutting edge technology products.”
- Best representative of Diversity: Eleanor Clarke, Rolls Royce – Filton, Bristol
Ellie has been the chair of the Rolls-Royce Bristol Women's network since its creation last year. Under her leadership the network has been built from the bottom up to flourish as one of the most active groups in Bristol and she has become increasingly influential in promoting awareness of diversity and inclusion across the site. Ellie’s work has seen her bring in external speakers, organise local events and take her message to the Rolls-Royce board and global engineering leadership. She is not afraid to offer feedback on senior leadership positions and behaviours and is a great role model to those around her.
Eleanor Clarke, Team Leader - Shared Services at Rolls Royce, said: “Thank you so much. I feel so honoured to receive this award. I am privileged to be leading a team of people so passionate about taking us on our journey to a more gender diverse workforce. Diversity and inclusion is vital to getting the best ideas and the best results for Rolls-Royce and our customers. We not only need to attract more women into engineering but also retain them and support them to achieve their potential. We also need to make sure we are fair and equitable towards men and create a culture where flexible working is something all people feel comfortable applying for.”
- Best Young Aerospace Entrant: Mattia Di Francesco, National Composites Centre – Bristol
Mattia joined the NCC as a 1st class honours graduate in Yacht and Powercraft Design and has progressed to excelling as a composites aerospace engineer and the youngest technical team leader in a few years. From his NCC EngD he has become the leader of the Automated Deposition Technologies team, working with the NCC major aerospace customers, GKN, GE, Rolls-Royce and Airbus, among others. His technical expertise has been awarded at a world renown composites conference, where he presented his paper on control technology for Automated-Fibre-Placement to the levels of reliability and fidelity, required by the stringent certification constraints of aerospace.
Mattia Di Francesco, Research Engineer at the National Composites Centre, said: “I am pleased, honoured and humbled to accept this award. It comes at a crucial time in my career, as I prepare to complete the doctorate and transition into a more senior role. Working as an Engineering Doctorate Research Engineer has given me the opportunity to develop professionally to a level that has only been possible thanks to the continuous mentoring and support I received from the managers, supervisors, and peers that made my Engineering Doctorate experience a memorable one.”
- Ed Strongman Legacy Award: The late Ian Chatting - GKN, Filton, Bristol and Vestas, Isle of Wight
Ian Chatting sadly passed away in February 2017. He played a pivotal role with GKN in the development of new composite processes utilised in the A380. He then became the leading technologist with Vestas and helped deploy composite technology into alternative wind energy applications. He was instrumental in bringing Aerospace and Alternative energy interests together to help facilitate the founding of the National Composite Centre in Bristol. His dynamic approach to technology made a significant impact on the development and advancement of composite applications and processes and his contribution to both industry and technology will be sadly missed.
Louisa Chatting, wife of Ian Chatting, said: “Ian was incredibly passionate about pushing technology to the next level throughout his career and the fact that this has been recognised by his peers in industry today makes me incredibly proud of his achievements. This award will be cherished by my children and I for many years to come.”
- Best Aerospace Customer Service: Jon Morley, Rolls Royce, Filton, Bristol
In early 2016, the availability of the UK’s Defence fleet of A400M aircraft was reduced due a technical problem within the engine gearbox. Jon had an innovative idea that he believed could solve the problem. Against very tight timescales, he established a team to develop a method of changing gearboxes on-wing. Through his leadership, dedication, customer focus, and sheer tenacity, he helped achieve this seemingly impossible task, ahead of time. This ensured the RAF fleet availability was re-established, and helped restore customer satisfaction. In parallel, he selflessly ensured his team’s achievements and the supporting SME, were recognised ahead of himself.
Jon Morely, Chief Service Engineer, at Rolls Royce, said: “I am obviously delighted to win this award – I feel very proud to be recognized as an ambassador for the aerospace industry, which is something I appreciate greatly. It was a privilege to lead this project, and very rewarding to rapidly deliver such a positive impact on our customers operation. My thanks again to all those involved, and to my wider team who have enabled me to receive this award.”
- Best Aerospace Media Ambassador (Short film): Ben Gay, Yeovil College
Ben Gay, student at Yeovil College University Centre, said: “I can't really put into words how i feel right now. I knew that when I first started this project, whilst at Yeovil College, it was going to be something different but I never expected our little film to win an award. Westland One was and is a labour of love from all of us involved. Meeting so many people who worked on the aircraft itself was utterly inspiring and humbling, they retold their tale to us - a completely new generation - and in return we tried to create a film to help commemorate the breaking of the record. I hope that we have done everyone justice in this.”