Bill Belshaw (right) receives his Distinguished Service Award from B&ES president

Bill Belshaw (right) receives his Distinguished Service Award from B&ES president Andy Sneyd

UK: Bill Belshaw, a past president of B&ES, has received the Distinguished Service Award from the contractors’ association.

Only the seventh person to have been honoured in this way by B&ES, current president Andy Sneyd explained that the Distinguished Service Award was conferred upon “those who have rendered extra-special service to the Association and its activities” – adding that the roll-call of previous recipients represented “a genuine B&ES hall of fame”.

He went on to recall that Mr Belshaw had first been elected to council – the association’s governing body – in 1977, and had served continuously until earlier this year.

“During almost four decades, the many key appointments he has held include chairmanship of the finance, membership and safety committees, as well as chief negotiator for the operative national agreement,” Mr Sneyd reminded his audience.

Arguable Bill Belshaw’s most significant contribution was his championship, during his presidential year, of what had since become the B&ES Competence Assessment Scheme.

“It is hard to believe today that the third-party inspection and assessment of the technical competence and commercial capability of our members was an entirely new concept back in 1998,” said the president.

And it had taken a very great deal of discussion and persuasion over several years to convince the membership that the introduction of such a regime had been essential to “the continuing status and credibility of the Association in an increasingly competitive era”.

“I do not exaggerate when I state that – without Bill Belshaw’s dogged determination, the single most important development in the history of our Association might have remained no more than a distant dream,” Mr Sneyd insisted.

The Association had therefore made “a very smart decision indeed” when it placed its trust in a man who had provided “leadership, inspiration and extremely wise counsel on so many critical issues over so many years”.

The six previous recipients of the B&ES Distinguished Service Award are past presidents Donald Russell Naylor, Peter How, Edgar Poppleton, Chris Sneath and Peter Hoyle, along with Scott Strawbridge of the Mechanical Contractors’ Association of Northern California.