The Worshipful Company of Builders’ Merchants (WCoBM) hosted its annual City & Awards luncheon in March at the City’s historic Vintners’ Hall. Introduced seven years ago, it has rapidly become an important event in the Company’s calendar, recognising achievements of individuals in the industry and within organisations the Company supports through its charitable fund.

Prize winners this year included four Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) students. The first BMF Manchester Opening Learning (MOL) prize went to Jack Rothwell of James Hargreaves Plumbers’ Merchants, who achieved a top mark of 28 points based on the modules he completed. Second MOL prize with 25 points was awarded to Lynn McGhee of Ridgeons. The third MOL prize went to Peter Barker of West Building Supplies with 23 points. The BMF Campus Winner was Alun Thomas of LBS (Aberdare), while Steven Webber of Elliotts picked up the prestigious 2017 Golton Award as the top performing student on the BMF Master’s Degree in Leadership & Strategy at Birmingham City University. All prizes were presented by the Guest of Honour, Sheriff Neil Redcliffe.

The event is also a platform for emerging talent in the industry. So this year, merchant and supplier members were encouraged to bring ‘rising stars’ from their businesses as guests. This additional element is part of a wider initiative that the Company is launching to raise the profile of builders’ merchanting and the many options for building a career with merchants or suppliers. The lunch was an opportunity for guests to learn more about training and career progression in our sector, and network with senior industry and City figures.

Training and education are key objectives of the WCoBM, which is taking a lead in developing awareness of the varied and exciting job opportunities in our industry. The Master, Brian Blanchard, is particularly keen to promote this in his year, and as Chairman of the Education and Training Committee, will ensure the continued development of this initiative.

He comments: “Our industry is facing significant challenges with skills shortages and the poor perception of construction. It’s therefore vital that we all play a part in educating students, schools and colleges about our industry and all that is good about it. We also have to reach out to young people already working in our sector so they’re encouraged to stay and pursue a career with a builders’ merchant or supplier.

“Over the last 12-18 months of attending exhibitions, talking to parents and teachers, and presenting in schools, there’s been a strong realisation that there is a lot to do in building a better understanding of our industry – what it does, why it matters and where the opportunities are for young individuals,” continues Brian. “Awareness is low and there is little motivation to join our industry. But working with the BMF and other recognised industry bodies, we can amplify our messages, help to improve the image of construction, and promote the support that’s available such as training courses, bursaries and apprenticeship programmes.”

To find out more about how the WCoBM is supporting the industry, visit and watch our new ‘Build A Career’ video.