What a night…food, champagne, opulent setting and great friends swapping stories and experiences.
On a beautiful summer evening overlooking one of the worlds great rivers, over 300 sparkling, exuberant guests, from all over the world, sat down to dinner in a luxurious setting; each dressed to the nines and looking fabulous. All there to celebrate the latest innovations and achievements in our dynamic industry and applaud The Professional Clothing Awards (PCA) winners. The PCA recognise the international uniform supply chain and reward exceptional workwear, corporate clothing and PPE from around the world.
After a champagne reception we sat down to a wonderful three course dinner. After possibly too much champagne we needed Toastmaster Reuben Lynch to control us with firm and regular reminders, Shhhhh, that we were getting a little excited.
The incomparable Yvette Ashby introduced the evening. By god she has worked hard to make this event happen! She welcomed us in her own inimitable style and we settled back to listen to guest speakers. Reuben reminded us of our obligation to respect the speakers:
shhhhh… They told us about sustainability and product advances. We were reminded of our responsibility to the environment and the people who make and wear the clothing we produce. We witnessed a wonderful display of young design talent as models strutted through the room wearing inspiring clothing from the next generation of designers. Cindy McNaull from INVISTA CORDURA Brand celebrated 50 years by cutting a beautiful four tier cake and sharing it among the guests, yum, yum. We had presentations on the brilliance of all of us, this always make me feel very special! And we had a delegation of friends from Portugal, that wonderful country with so much textile heritage. They told us what we should already know; they are UK friendly and they make some wonderful textile products.
Then “the moment we had all been waiting for” the opulent award ceremony hosted by Kanya King, MBE and Sophie Smith got underway. Both ladies looked fabulous and handled the long award ceremony beautifully and of course we had Reuben Lynch making sure these ladies were not interrupted and the deserving winners had their moment. Reuben had his work cut out at times as the excitable crowd continued to swap stories and generally have a good night. Shhhhhhh.
Winner after winner, highly commended after highly commended, took to the stage to rapturous applause. All beaming and shiny they walked of proudly, clutching their glass obelisk, a mark of their considerable achievements and all well deserved. I particularly enjoyed watching Paul Costello hug the Tailored Image team when they won an award for the Belfast Bullet hotel apron!
I am not going to mention all the awards (there were a lot) but I would like to mention a few:
The Lifetime Achievement Award: Winners were John MBE and Vicky Bancroft. I don’t know them personally but I witnessed their progress over many years, they work hard and have grown a terrific business and richly deserved this award. Jacqueline Sioen-Zoete was also recognised in this category.
Long Service to the Textile Industry: Winners were Mr. Charandass Sohal and Jeff Banks CBE. I have met both men; both are inspiring characters in their own way. Jeff needs no introduction and Mr Sohal (Mr. Dass) lives around the corner from me. I grew up watching many of my Indian friend’s fathers grow wonderful businesses by working very hard in Birmingham during the 1970’s. Mr Sohal is an unassuming modest man who has worked hard, founded ORBIT and developed it in to a wonderfully successful business that this industry can be proud of.
Woman of the Year 2017: Winner was Jacqueline Sioen-Zoete. I don’t know Jacqueline but she won two big awards so I would like to say congrats anyway.
Awards ceremony over we all mingled, shook hands and patted each other on the back. Swapped hearty congratulations with winners and retired to the roof top bar to drink more, tell stories and jokes as we looked out across the great city of London and watched dawn herald the start of a new day. Then off to a welcome bed at 5am and dreams of winning the big one next year!
I would like to thank The Professional Clothing Awards team for getting the industry together and congratulations all those who entered the awards. Congratulations to those who won awards. I hope you all enjoyed the night as much as my team and I did.
By Douglas Bailey, Managing Director at Stuncroft.
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