Pledge Awards 2020 Programme Launched


We are delighted to share further details about the programme for this year’s Health & Safety Pledge Awards event, which is being held on October 15, from 1:00 – 2:30 pm.

As well as the presentation of individual and company awards, the event will feature a number of special guest speakers, including:

  • Keith Barker, Wienerberger Ltd. (BCC President’s Address)
  • Phil Crosbie & Paul Verrico, Eversheds LLP
  • Ed Corbett & Victoria Whitehouse, Health & Safety Executive (HSE)
  • Tom Oxley, Bamboo Mental Health
  • Natalia Cohen, Adventurer & Official World Record Holder

View the full Pledge Awards 2020 Programme.

Like many businesses, we have had to adapt to the current circumstances and this year’s event is being held online. Registration is per company meaning unlimited numbers of employees can attend, with the cost dependant on company size. A link to join the event will be sent to registrants the day before the event.

Book your company’s tickets here.

For further information email Sonia Mayer.

Dr Laura Cohen appointed as Visiting Professor to Department of Materials at University of Manchester and Henry Royce Institute

Dr Laura Cohen MBE CEng FIMMM, who is Chief Executive of the British Ceramic Confederation (BCC) has been appointed as a Visiting Professor in Materials Science and Engineering in a role that will span the University of Manchester and the Henry Royce Institute.

The appointment is part of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Visiting Professors (VP) scheme an industry-into-academia initiative that funds professional engineers working with UK universities.

Dr Cohen was appointed Chief Executive of the BCC, the trade association for the UK ceramic manufacturing industry, in 2009. After a metallurgy and materials science degree and PhD at Cambridge, she worked for 20 years in many technical and regulatory roles in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, prior to joining BCC.

Dr Cohen’s Visiting Professor role will significantly augment existing industrially-relevant learning offered by the University, by giving lectures and interactive workshops, providing coaching sessions, offering feedback on the current curriculum and enhancing connections with industry.  Through one-to one career coaching Laura will help students explore career opportunities inside, and, particularly outside academia.

Dr Laura Cohen said:

“I’m delighted to have this opportunity to work more closely with Manchester University and the Henry Royce Institute partners at this critical time, when it is even more important that university courses have strong links with industry. I’m looking forward to helping students understand some of the key challenges facing manufacturing today and sharing my experience with the next generation of industry leaders.”

Keith Barker, President of the British Ceramic Confederation, said:

 “We look forward to supporting Laura’s work as a Visiting Professor alongside her role as Chief Executive of the British Ceramic Confederation. The students will benefit greatly from her experience and insights and the ceramics manufacturing industry will also benefit from her work championing our sector. We wish her every success in her new role.”

Philip Withers FREng FRS, Regius Professor of Materials in the Department of Materials at The University of Manchester and Chief Scientist of the Henry Royce Institute, the Academic Champion who submitted the successful RAEng Visiting Professor application, in partnership with Laura, said:  

“Laura’s appointment as a Visiting Professor in Materials Science and Engineering is great news for The University of Manchester and the Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials, and for students.  Hosting Laura provides an exceptional opportunity to improve the educational provision for our materials science students. Laura will bring deep expertise around the application of materials science and engineering in industry, particularly in relation to policy and regulation.”

Professor Sarah Cartmell, Professor of Bioengineering at The University of Manchester, Head of the Department of Materials and Royce Champion for Biomedical Materials, who will work closely with Laura during her appointment said:

“We’re absolutely delighted to be able to welcome Laura as Visiting Professor. Many of our students represent the business leaders of tomorrow and they will benefit greatly from discussions with Laura on key industrial challenges, as well as opportunities for materials scientists and engineers in areas such as energy efficiency, the net zero carbon challenge and resource efficiency. As a senior, successful woman in manufacturing, Laura will also be an outstanding role model to students, and by integrating her work at Manchester with the Henry Royce Institute, this position will benefit materials science students nationally.”

Dr Cohen’s Professorship will concentrate in the first year on The University of Manchester and will then be extended to other university partners in the Henry Royce Institute (Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial College, Sheffield, Liverpool, Leeds).

Dr Cohen was awarded an MBE in 2015 in recognition of her services to the ceramics industry. She is also an associate of Newnham College, Cambridge and has chaired a number of cross-industry groups on trade, energy and the transition to net-zero.


For further information contact


About the Royal Academy of Engineering

The Royal Academy of Engineering is harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone. In collaboration with its Fellows and partners, it is growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation and building global partnerships, and influencing policy and engaging the public. This Visiting Professor position is being supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering under the Visiting Professors – Round 7 (Yr 2021) scheme.

About the British Ceramic Confederation

The British Ceramic Confederation (BCC) is the trade association for the UK ceramic manufacturing industry, representing the common and collective interests of all sectors of the industry. Its member companies cover the full spectrum of ceramic manufacturing, including the supply of materials, and comprise over 90% of the industry’s manufacturing capacity.

About Materials Science at Manchester

Material Science at the University of Manchester is Europe’s largest and most diverse university activity devoted to materials. Its BSc course is accredited by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) as fully meeting the academic requirements for Incorporated Engineer (IEng) registration and partially for Chartered Engineer (CEng)/Chartered Scientist (CSci) status.  Strong industrial links ensure courses are wide-ranging and relevant to industrial needs.

About the Henry Royce Institute 

Operating with its Hub at The University of Manchester, the Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials research and innovation is a partnership of nine leading institutions – the universities of Cambridge, Imperial College London, Liverpool, Leeds, Oxford, Sheffield, the National Nuclear Laboratory, and UKAEA. Royce aims to support and grow world-recognised excellence in UK materials research, accelerating commercial exploitation and delivering positive economic and societal impact for the UK. Royce is funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council, part of UK Research & Innovation.

Keynote Speaker Announced | Pledge Virtual Awards 2020

We are delighted to announce that the keynote speaker for our upcoming Pledge Virtual Awards event on Thursday, October 15, is Natalia Cohen, who was one of the first all-female team to row unsupported across the Pacific Ocean. Natalia will be sharing her extraordinary story and explaining how the lessons she learnt about leadership, teamwork and mental resilience can be applied to your business.

Natalia’s Journey

With 15 years of experience of living and working in over 50 countries, Natalia Cohen has chosen to follow an unusual and fascinating path.

Her broad range of professional experience within the travel industry includes adventure tour leading, operations management, teaching/training, volunteer and project coordination, as well as working within the Super Yacht industry and Eco-lodge management, running a remote Safari lodge in Tanzania. Natalia is no stranger to being outside of her comfort zone and has made an art of embracing and adapting to change. Her understanding of team dynamics, the importance of a positive mindset and the ability to live in the moment led her to become part of the first all-female team to row unsupported across the Pacific Ocean.

Natalia and the crew completed this challenge in January 2016 setting two world records and gaining an international following. This was a journey of just under 9,000 miles from San Francisco, the USA to Cairns, Australia in a 29ft ocean rowing boat. The expedition was not only a challenge of extreme conditions and perseverance but also a journey within to better understand the strength of human spirit, the importance of being aligned with your values, a positive mindset, the diversity within a team and enjoying the journey.

Natalia’s vision is to empower others to reach their potential, push through their self-limiting mental boundaries and meet and overcome the challenges that life throws at them.

She may have crossed her literal Pacific, but we all have our own Pacific to cross.

You can hear about Natalia’s experience first-hand by booking your company’s space at our 2020 virtual awards presentation. You can find the event booking form here. For more information please contact Lauren Darby.

Bookings for 2020 Pledge Awards Now Open

We are delighted to announce that bookings for our 2020 Pledge Awards virtual presentation ceremony are now open.

The 2020 Pledge Awards will be held online on Thursday, October 15 at 1 pm, and will be an opportunity to come together (safely!) to recognise your hard work and dedication to improved health and safety performance.

Registration is per company meaning unlimited numbers of employees can attend. The cost to access the event is dependant on company size. A link to join the event will be sent to registrants the day before the event. Further information about the programme will be issued shortly!

You can find the event booking form here. For more information please contact Lauren Darby.

New Customs Declaration Service for Members

The British Ceramic Confederation (BCC) has partnered with the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce to offer our members across the UK a service for Customs Declarations which will be delivered through Chamber Customs. BCC members will receive the same rates as members of the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce.

From 01 January 2021 companies who trade with the European Union (EU) will be required to make customs declarations to move goods in and out of the EU. In the Government’s own words “completing a customs declaration is complicated and you may need software, so you may want to get someone to deal with customs for you.”

Chamber Customs is a new Customs Declarations Service that will be delivered by Chambers of Commerce to every region of the United Kingdom. In a post-Brexit Britain, the service will offer businesses much-needed assurance that goods being imported or exported will pass through borders unhindered, be subject to the correct duty and charges, and reach their destination in good time. Traders will have access to an HMRC compliant service, which will provide partner companies with peace of mind. With direct links to the HMRC Customs handling system and all inventory linked ports, Chamber Customs can ensure that your goods, no matter where they
enter or leave the UK, will be cleared for onward transportation smoothly and swiftly.

For more information on the new Customs Declarations service view the Customs Declaration Service BCC guide.



Pledge Virtual Awards 2020 – Open for Entries

Entries for the ceramic industry Health & Safety Pledge Awards 2020 are now open.

Like many businesses, we’ve had to adapt to the current circumstances and this year the awards will be presented online for the first time.

This year’s event, which will be held on Thursday, October 15, will feature a virtual presentation ceremony, along with a number of special guest speakers.

The Pledge Awards are completely free to enter and are designed to formally recognise the very best Health & Safety initiatives from across the ceramic manufacturing sector.

As well as the usual Open Category, Individual Recognition and Contractor awards, this year an Individual Recognition award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Company/Community during the COVID-19 Crisis’ will be presented. Once again, we will also be presenting the Pledge Award of Excellence to the most outstanding Open Category entry.

We welcome applications from all British Ceramic Confederation members, wherever you are on your Health & Safety journey. If you have not entered before or would like support with your entry please get in touch. More information on plans for the presentation ceremony will be circulated to members over the coming weeks. We are looking forward to recognising all the good work that has gone on in our member companies in the last 12 months.

Details of the entry criteria and application forms are available here. Please email completed entries to Sonia Mayer by 5 pm on Monday, August 31.