United Welsh wins Project of the Year at the National Housing Maintenance Forum Awards

By Steve Bowen, Procurement Project Manager, United Welsh

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In the immortal words of the Four Seasons, ‘Oh what a night’!

At the National Housing Maintenance Forum (NHMF) annual awards in Stafford on Tuesday 21st January, we sat with baited breath as the awards were read out; first the Gas Service awards – lots of delightful whooping and hollering and flue-analysers being handed out to the superstars of the Gas Service world.

As I sat there, enjoying the atmosphere, I thought back over the work that had brought us here.

The Celtic Horizons ‘project’ had commenced in 2011 with an acknowledgement that we needed to improve customer satisfaction across the services we provided. This was supported by a report carried out by the University of Bath in conjunction with our Property Team, and was followed by a series of hearts and minds seminars facilitated by Echelon.

The bold decision to adopt a ‘wholly owned subsidiary’ model with expertise and experience in the form of a main contractor partner resulted in an Official Journal of the European Union – or OJEU – notice being placed in February 2012. After a Bidders’ day, the pre-qualification questionnaires; the Invitation to Submit Detailed Solutions; the informative Competitive Dialogue and Best and Final Offer evaluation process involving over 30 of our staff and a team of tenant representatives we finally appointed Mears, who had risen through the process into a worthy partner for us.

Back to the awards evening… we had submitted an entry into the ‘Best In-house maintenance service provider’ category for our Complete Property Service Project that went live a few days ahead of schedule in March 2013 – on time, within budget and with all the quality boxes ticked.

This was the third award to be announced and when the announcement came that Broadlands HA from Norwich had won, we looked around our team and thought our chance had passed for an award this year… apart from our Project Lead Luke Mitchell who insisted “we are still in with a chance!”

And so we arrived at the final award of the evening – the overall Project of the Year; the most prestigious award! And the announcer used words such as “outstanding project…unanimous choice of the judges….innovative…exceptional use of both staff and tenants…..with all the evidence showing the improvements in service!”

“And the winner is….UNITED WELSH!!!”

At that point Lynda Sagona – our Project Sponsor at United Welsh and keen supporter of the process at every stage – looked as though she had won the lottery; Jane Nelson, Mears Executive Director, punched the air in delight, Luke Mitchell said “told you” and none of us moved! We were then applauded onto the stage to receive the award and pose for some photos.

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Steve (left) and Luke Mitchell showing off the award with pride!

It’s been brilliant to be involved with Celtic Horizons… and winning this award was the icing on the cake!

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