Over 200 people gathered at the second North East automotive awards organised by the UK’s largest automotive cluster, the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA).

02 February 2019 – Best Western Roker Hotel, Sunderland. The evening celebration welcomed industrialists from some of the region’s major automotive companies, including Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK), Calsonic Kansei, Unipres (UK), Komatsu UK, Adient Seating UK and Lear Corporation, to recognise some of the brightest youngsters and outstanding achievements of companies in the North East of England.

The event awarded £14,000 in support of the region’s future automotive talent, including donations to STEM engagement programmes and local schools in support of STEM projects, with the aim of raising awareness of future career opportunities within the automotive sector.

The awards evening was gratefully sponsored by MAKE it Sunderland, Invest South Tyneside, Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK), Gateshead College, RTC North and University of Sunderland.

The NEAA Annual Awards 2019 winners are:

  • Outstanding Contribution Award sponsored by MAKE it Sunderland – Graham Bagley, Nissan Europe Construction Manager
  • School Engagement Award sponsored by Invest South Tyneside – Unipres (UK)
  • Geoff Ford Apprentice Award sponsored by Gateshead College – Kaylee McNally, Engineering/Technical Apprentice, Arlington Automotive
  • Graduate Award sponsored by NEAA – Jane Langton, Press Shop Engineer, Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK)
  • Business Competitiveness Award sponsored by Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) – Adient Seating UK
  • Innovation Award sponsored by University of Sunderland – Lear Corporation Sunderland (Foam Plant)
  • SME Company of the Year Award sponsored by RTC North – Tomlinson Hall

The Geoff Ford Apprentice Award, renamed in honour of Geoff Ford, Chairman of Ford Engineering Group, following his recent passing, was won by Kaylee McNally of Arlington Automotive. Kaylee has exceeded all academic expectation and is a shining example of what can be achieved from an apprenticeship in the automotive sector.

The Graduate Award was collected by Jane Langton of Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) who has shown herself to be an enthusiastic and committed member of the engineering team since joining Nissan’s graduate scheme. She has taken part in many events outside of her role as an engineer where she passes on her enthusiasm for engineering, promoting this as a career to local students.

Sophie Messner of Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) collected Apprentice runner up, whilst

Daniel Taylor of Arlington Automotive was Graduate runner up.

Kaylee McNally, Engineering/Technical Apprentice, Arlington Automotive, winner of the Geoff Ford Apprentice Award said: “I am delighted to win the Geoff Ford Apprentice Award. It is great recognition for both myself and Arlington, and hopefully I can continue to keep inspiring young people to work in the automotive industry.”

Kaylee and Jane each took away a cheque for £1,500, whilst Sophie and Daniel received £500 each. The other winners and runners up donated their winnings totalling £10,000 straight to North East STEM projects or local schools in support of automotive or STEM projects.

NEAA Chief Executive, Paul Butler said: “I am delighted that thanks to the support of our sponsors we have been able to award £14,000 in support of future talent and STEM projects. It is fantastic to celebrate automotive success tonight. These donations go towards attracting our future talent – money from our inaugural awards last year has proved fruitful and we expect the same from this year.

“The awards are also an important mechanism for raising our profile and celebrating regional success. I hope more companies are encouraged to enter these, and other regional and national awards – we need to celebrate our success, but we also want others to see the excellence that exists within the North East automotive sector.”

Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, and main sponsor of the NEAA Awards 2019, said: “In this city we celebrate a strong automotive sector, a heritage of pioneering innovations, a formidable reputation for productivity, and a talent for creating effective international links with companies, governments and agencies worldwide.

“The NEAA awards bring the region together to reinforce these fantastic qualities and generate a powerful platform from which we can work together to develop a robust, growing future, and MAKE it Sunderland is proud to sponsor them.

“The NEAA Outstanding Contribution award, also sponsored by MAKE it Sunderland, gives us all a chance to share the inspiring work from local people that leads to local and national success. It sets them apart and helps to put our region at the forefront of the UK and global automotive sector.”