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Brightest HR stars shine at glittering cHeRries Awards

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The best and brightest of the north-east’s human resources (HR) professionals were celebrated over the weekend at the glamourous cHeRries Awards.

More than 450 people from firms across the region attended the star-studded event at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on Friday evening.

A total of 11 awards and two commendations were handed out to well-deserving specialists from the worlds of human resources, training and recruitment during the 11th annual ceremony.

Host Fred MacAuley warmed up the crowds with his trademark sharp humour, while stellar entertainment from swing singer Jason Porter and function band Borrowed Blues ensured the dancefloor was packed throughout the evening.

The most prestigious prize of the night, The Top Cherry for Outstanding Contribution, was won by Karen Catto, from Stewart Milne Group.

Karen Catto of Stewart Milne Group

She joined the company in 1996 and was made HR director in 2007, gathering praise from her colleagues for her attitude towards the role.

She said: “We all do things in business because they are the right things to do, and we sometimes don’t realise that other people notice.

“It’s very important to get that recognition.

“You have to have a leadership team that supports you and what you do and I’m very lucky to have that.”

The trophy was presented by Anne Lawson, a senior consultant with award sponsor Mattioli Woods.

She said: “The cHeRies supports and recognises the great talent in this important arena.”

Nicola Quinn, from Inverness College, University of Highlands and Islands, was given the Blossoming Award to acknowledge her up-and-coming talent in the field of HR. The prize was sponsored by Aberdeen Business School at Robert Gordon University, and came with a fully-funded place to study for a human resource management MSc.

Miss Quinn said: “I’ve not quite taken it in. I wasn’t expecting it.

“I’m grateful to RGU for giving me the opportunity to let me continue with my development. I couldn’t think of a better place to do it.”

Walkers Shortbread Limited was named Exemplary Employer of Choice.

Exemplary Employer of Choice winner was Walkers Shortbread Ltd. Jill Armitt was presented with the award by Professor Norman Hutchison

Head of HR Jill Armitt collected the award, sponsored by University of Aberdeen Business School, on behalf of the staff at the Aberlour-headquartered firm.

She said: “It’s a huge honour in recognition of the work we do to engage our employees.”

Bon Accord Care was given the prize for Exceptional Employee Engagement, sponsored by CIPD.

Managing director Sandra Ross said: “All of the staff so deserve this. They have worked so hard and achieved so much.”

Aberdeen social care charity VSA was given two awards on the night.

Alan Clark and Nicky Bruce collected the Extraordinary HR Initiative Cherry, sponsored by Nexen, while Gillian Kimber was given the activpayroll-sponsored Excellent HR Manager prize for her excellence in the role.

Mrs Kimber said: “A third sector organisation winning these prestigious awards shows the hard work and dedication that the charity sector puts in.”

Karen Buchan, from Balhousie Care Group, was given the Fantastic HR Advisor award, sponsored by Peterson.

She said: “I’m absolutely thrilled.

“I looked at all of the nominees and thought any of them could have won this.”

Staff from Old Course Hotel St Andrews were presented with the Cherry for Tremendous Learning & Development, sponsored by Petrofac.

Recruiter Katie Carstairs said: “It’s amazing to be recognised. Our people play a pivotal role and we wouldn’t be a five red star resort without them.”

Chrysaor E&P Services Ltd became the largest independent operator in the UK North Sea last year.

It was presented with the Terrific Team of the Year Cherry, sponsored by CMS.

HR director Corinne Kelt said: “It’s fantastic to get external praise after so much work.”

After supporting due diligence projects as far afield as New Zealand, Law at Work Incorporating Empire was given the Superb Services to the Industry gong, sponsored by The Press And Journal, while Hunter Adams was highly commended.

LAW operations director Donna Gibb said: “This is recognition of the team effort working with an overseas client in their first venture into Europe.”

John Stewart, of SSE Plc, was named Outstanding HR Director for his work focusing on the commercial value of HR and the return on investment it can yield.

Willie Wood, from Johnstons of Elgin, was highly commended in the category.

Mr Stewart’s trophy, sponsored by wood, was collected on his behalf by Elaine Harley and Gordon Mcfarlane.

Mr Macfarlane said: “We always value external recognition for the hard work that John and his team do.”