18 April 2016

If You Build It, They Will Come, The ECIA Spring Ball

ECIA 2016 Spring Ball
ECIA 2016 Spring Ball, © ECIA, Fergus Burnett 

One could not have constructed a better party, especially not for this event—the Engineering Construction Industry Association annual spring ball.

This event took place on March 19th at that fine tribute to British architecture, the Durbar Court in London. Over 230 guests attended.  Mike Wilkins of Morgan Sindall, the esteemed President of ECIA, welcomed everyone with a speech on present and future challenges in the industry from nuclear power related topics to health and safety concerns in the general environment.

Mike Wilkins, President of ECIA, © ECIA, Fergus Burnett

The engineering construction industry plays a vital role in the United Kingdom’s economy and the ECIA represents the branch’s key players. With the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI), Health and Safety activities and initiatives, employment relations and numerous other projects and operations, the ECIA supports the growth and well-being of the industry.

The Setting: the House that Sir Mathew Built 

Sir Mathew Digby Wyatt, a scion of the famed Wyatt family of architects, designed the interiors in 1867 for the India Office, the premises now being part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It went by the name of the Sultan’s Court in bygone days.

The interiors are particularly captivating, including the central court with its columns of crimson Peterhead and silvery Aberdeen granite. The flooring is of blended shades of Belgian, Sicilian and Greek marble.

The budget for the interiors was astronomical by today’s standards. Drawing upon the proceeds from the sale of East India House in Leadenhall Street, Wyatt could afford to decorate the interior courtyard of the India Office with marble, tiled friezes and a wealth of elaborate carving to create a sumptuous setting for affairs of state and diplomatic functions.

The Atmosphere: A Fine Place to Mingle and Even to Chill

Each year the ECIA spring ball convenes industry leaders, who meet to discuss plans for the forthcoming year and to have a bit of fun as well. This year was no exception, despite the niggling delay in spring’s onset.

Originally, the court was open to the sky, a roof being added a few years after the opening. The Durbar Court held many significant events commencing with the reception of the Sultan of Turkey in 1867. The site became known as the “Durbar Court” only in 1902, after the coronation celebrations for Edward VIII.

Without doubt, the Durbar Court is quite the venue, even if central heating was not part of the original design. Hardy souls noted that it was a perfect night for white wine, chilling unnecessary.

As T. S. Eliot said, alluding to the vagaries of English spring weather, “April is the cruellest month.” March, too, can have untoward tendencies. A wit identified as being from Liverpool (perhaps wishing to separate their experience from that of more lightweight Londoners) was heard to remark, “Chilly? It’s like a pleasant stroll on the Mersey. On Bank Holiday in May.”

Fine wine, a stirring soundtrack provided by the Band of the Parachute Regiment led by Captain Justin Teggarty and strategically located gas heaters lent a hand in creating a jolly garden party atmosphere.

The Band of the Parachute Regiment led by Cpt. Justin Teggarty, © ECIA, Fergus Burnett
The Band of the Parachute Regiment led by Cpt. Justin Teggarty, © ECIA, Fergus Burnett

The Awards

A plucky conviction of more temperate days to come warmed the room, regarding both the weather and the Industry.

The ECIA presented several awards and announced various initiatives, including RISE and EPIC awards.

The Engineering Construction Industry Productivity Improvement Committee (EPIC) annually recognizes an individual company, which contributes to sharing Best Practices.

The Committee is dedicated to identifying and overcoming barriers to productivity by sharing and mitigating Best Practices whilst also measuring performance and improvement.

During the 2016 Spring Ball the EPIC awarded CB&I Shaw Group UK for their contributions to the industry. Well done.

ECIA RISE AWARDS, © ECIA, Fergus Burnett
ECIA RISE AWARDS, © ECIA, Fergus Burnett

Each year ECIA also announces the Recognising Initiative in Safety Excellence (RISE) awards. A dedicated committee evaluates initiatives, stories, projects and ideas submitted by member organisations as to health and safety achievements.

In 2016 the following RISE awards were presented:

Main/managing contractor: Doosan Babcock

General Member: Engenda Group Ltd

Award for an individual: Remo Melillo

Central European Staffing (CES) management enjoyed the ball and the company immensely.

Agnes and Witold
Agnes Wrodarczyk (Managing Director) and Witold Wrodarczyk (Group Operations Director) of Central European Staffing at the ECIA 2016 Spring Ball, © ECIA, Fergus Burnett

CES is looking forward to other ECIA events. They present an excellent opportunity to gather industry leaders together, trade experiences, exchange contacts and warm to each other.