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30th June 2017, Bristol

South West Aerospace winners celebrated at awards evening

Stars of the UK’s South West aerospace and defence sector, including a number working in the field of advanced composites, have been honoured at the WEAF Aerospace Ambassadors Awards celebration dinner at Bristol Museum this week.

Organised by West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF), the inaugural awards celebrate the sector’s “unsung heroes” and shine a spotlight on their outstanding achievements. The representatives of the South West aerospace sector joined forces to honour the winners, with a key note speech given by Peaches Golding OBE, Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of the County and City of Bristol.

Organised by West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF), the inaugural awards celebrate the sector’s unsung heroes and shine a spotlight on their outstanding achievements. © WEAF

Backed by headline sponsors Artemis Optical, Osborne Clarke and SKF Aerospace, the awards attracted scores of entries, with tight competition for the judging panel of independent recognised experts from across the region’s aerospace and defence industry. The South West has one of the largest concentrations of aerospace and defence capabilities in Europe, and is the biggest aerospace cluster in the UK worth more than £7 billion.

Mattia Di Francesco

Mattia Di Francesco, National Composites Centre – Bristol, won the Best Young Aerospace Entrant category. Mattia joined the NCC as a 1st class honours graduate in Yacht and Powercraft Design and has progressed to an excelling composites aerospace engineer and the youngest technical team leader in a few years. From his NCC EngD he has become the leader of the Automated Deposition Technologies team, working with the NCC major aerospace customers, GKN, GE, Rolls-Royce and Airbus, among others.

“I am pleased, honoured and humbled to accept this award.  It comes at a crucial time in my career, as I prepare to complete the doctorate and transition into a more senior role. Working as an Engineering Doctorate Research Engineer has given me the opportunity to develop professionally to a level that has only been possible thanks to the continuous mentoring and support I received from the managers, supervisors, and peers that made my Engineering Doctorate experience a memorable one,” she said.

Ian Chatting

The late Ian Chatting - GKN, Filton, Bristol and Vestas, Isle of Wight, was recognised by the Ed Strongman Legacy Award. Louisa Chatting, wife of Ian Chatting, said: “Ian was incredibly passionate about pushing technology to the next level throughout his career and the fact that this has been recognised by his peers in industry today makes me incredibly proud of his achievements.  This award will be cherished by my children and I for many years to come.”

Ian Chatting, who passed away in February 2017, played a pivotal role with GKN in the development of new composite processes utilised in the A380. He then became the leading technologist with Vestas and helped deploy composite technology into alternative wind energy applications. He was instrumental in bringing aerospace and alternative energy interests together to help facilitate the founding of the National Composite Centre in Bristol.

Outstanding nominations

“Congratulations to all the winners – the brightest and best in the South West’s aerospace sector,” said Simon Young, Chief Executive of WEAF, the leading membership trade organisation for aerospace and defence companies in the South West. “And hats off to all the individuals who were shortlisted – the selection process was really tough as we had some outstanding nominations which illustrates the enormous amount of aerospace talent in the region.”

Individual award sponsors are Airbus, Castlemead Insurance, Bridgwater & Taunton College, Smith & Williamson, Trowers and Hamlins LLP and Aro PR and Marketing.

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