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Changing of the guard

Last year’s National Student of the Year winner David Cooper looks back on the 2014 Cooling Awards and reflects on his experience as a member of the judging panel

I thought it would be a good time to take stock of how the year has gone, post 2014 Cooling Awards, a year that has been very eventful for myself, and not just as it follows my success at the 2013 National Student of the Year Awards.

It has been an interesting and challenging nine months, in no small part motivated by the abundance of R22 refrigerant phase-out projects.

The experiences and lessons learnt from the variety of these projects will provide a wiser and pragmatic approach to the associated F-Gas Regulation’s targets that are becoming more significant as time passes.

And, of course, not to mention the focus on lowering the industry’s carbon footprint, which makes the associated engineering involved considerably more relevant and exciting. In many ways, the legislative demands of F-Gas on the industry are taking down the barriers to innovation and we are having to adapt to change and create solutions.

And those that have really stood out in the last year got their chance to be recognised at the Cooling Industry Awards 2014.

While our industry may not get the plaudits or acknowledgment when compared to some, more high-profile sectors, it can’t be denied that the efforts that both companies and individuals have made in the last year are significant – and there’s no better place than the Awards to get the recognition that’s deserved.

It has to be said, the event really is the pinnacle of industry awards and truly a captivating experience, worthy of its status.

We all work tirelessly throughout the year and in frequently problematic circumstances during the summer months when higher ambient conditions prevail and plant becomes more vulnerable.

Things can seem relentless at times, so the event is well placed to coincide with the tail end of peak cooling demand.

And on a personal level, it has now been a year since I was awarded first place at National Student of the Year – an accomplishment I have used rigorously to advance my position within the industry, and to help give something back to show my appreciation of what I’ve achieved so far. 

Following my success, I was fortunate to be offered an engaging opportunity to join the judging panel for this year’s Student Awards.

This event proved to be a very involving and complex process, which required every entry to be evaluated individually, focusing not just on their academic and work-based achievements, but also on them as people and how they’ve interacted with the wider industry.

And all this is before the many hours of deliberation when sat with the veteran panel of judges.

Having been on the receiving end of this accolade, and appreciating what success tastes like, during the judging process I found myself reminiscing back 12 months to understand how much it meant to me and what it has done for my career progression to date.

So it was only natural that this made my contribution more personal and influenced an open-hearted approach in evaluating each entry.

I was impressed with the overall quality and the range of entries, which came from all walks of life.

What particularly stood out for me were the diverse academic and work experiences listed, from introductory entry to degree-level qualifications, showing the depth and variety our industry has to offer.

The judging panel included several industry leaders including the likes of Institute of Refrigeration president Graeme Maidment and Sainsbury’s Head of Refrigeration John Skelton, together with experienced veterans from a variety of backgrounds, which gave a real sense of gravitas to the proceedings and more than justified the eventual sanctioning of the winner and ten finalists.

These proceedings are so important to ensure the ten finalists are deserving of the title, and that they deserved to be awarded with a memorable experience to celebrate their success.

There were, of course, a few that stood out from the rest and it was those that went the extra mile, preparing to succeed in their own ambitions and exceeding the Award’s criteria.

So I congratulate the winner, Lyell Perks, and all the other ten finalists for their achievements and hope they had a great night of celebration and entertainment.

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