The Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (Leea) presented the winners of the LEEA Awards 2023 with their trophies at the prestigious Awards Dinner on 21 November, held at the Rum Warehouse in Liverpool, UK.

With British comedian, presenter, actor and singer, Jason Manford joining the 380 guests from around the world, including Australia and Saudi Arabia, the fifth annual LEEA Awards continued the tradition of being a big night of celebration and social networking. Over £4,000 was raised on the night for Leea’s chosen Charity, the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Ross Moloney, CEO at Leea, said: “Congratulations to all the award winners and finalists for such impressive achievements. Winning a LEEA Award is not easy, which makes it a tremendous achievement, particularly as among the almost 100 entries received this year, the standard was higher than ever.”

He continued: “This year was our biggest awards event ever, making it unsurpassed for networking and relationship building. I would like to thank the applicants, judges, sponsors and all the guests for making this yet another great industry night and hope that the winners inspire lots of great entries from members for the LEEA Awards 2024.”

Leea is established across the globe as the representative body for all those involved in the lifting industry worldwide.


Prizes were given in ten categories.

1 In the Craig Morelli Award – Best Trainer, judges were looking for a trainer from the LEEA Accredited Training Scheme who has received outstanding student feedback and who is an exemplary employee.

The winner was Jasen Doyle of Industrial Training International (ITI). Admired by his fellow trainers, office staff and customers, Doyle is said to display a passion for training and care for the students, and demonstrates a methodical and engaging approach to training delivery. Receiving more than 300 evaluations from students, he maintains a net promotor score of 94% based on whether students would recommend him to train others. A score of 80% is considered world-class.

Doyle is said to be willing to innovate and look for new ways to improve the student and trainer experience. Through his efforts, ITI is trialling a new grading method that ensures accuracy and speed, allowing quicker feedback to the student as well as saving its trainers significant time. He was one of the first trainers to embrace blended learning environments, catering to in-person and live virtual students in a classroom at the same time.

Runner-up in this category was Ricci Varley of Certex UK.

2 The Industry Leader Award recognises and celebrates a leader in the membership who has been extremely effective in improving and growing their firm. The candidate needed to show evidence of leadership and dynamism, which resulted in company growth.

The winner was Ashley Thacker of Ranger – Lifting Rigging Safety, who has contributed to raising standards through his work with Australian Standards, input to the establishing of a national ASQA approved Cert IV ASQUA and the LEEA Regional Council in Australia.

The judges described Thacker as a “clear leader and inspiration to his team [who has] demonstrated Leea industry regional leadership”.

Glenn Ward of IMES International was runner-up.

3 The Innovation (Product) Award goes to a member that has launched a new product to market since 2022. Applicants were encouraged to show clearly how their solution solves challenges in a new and innovative way.

The award went to Rope Watcher – Certex UK. The device detects indications of wire rope wear and breakages. By utilising magneto-inductive methods (MRT), both internal and external, faults within the rope can be thoroughly assessed.

The judges called it an “innovative and comprehensive monitoring system”.

Second place in this category went to the Crosby Group Bolt on-line tension meter

4 The Innovation (Service) Award is for services launched in the past year that push the envelope in terms of innovation. The winner here was Inspection Department (Lifting Equipment) – Saudi Aramco.

The company said: “It is a significant priority in the Saudi Aramco system to ensure both workers’ safety and the efficiency of daily lifting operations. Such an objective cannot be met unless a strict inspection system is adopted and implemented within daily operations.

“Adopting a new QR digital inspection system makes it easy for both service providers and Saudi Aramco to access any needed inspection record in addition to evaluating the performance of the inspector or inspection company. QR stickers attached to the equipment link the checklist to the inspection report and populates the equipment information automatically.

“One exceptional aspect of this new system is the ability to create a digital dashboard to track significant key performance indicators (KPIs). This provides a set of data to assess inspector performance and ensure equipment integrity, which is assessed on a regular basis by Saudi Aramco management. KPIs include inspection workload carried out by the service providers’ inspector as well as the rejection rate. Such a dashboard enables Saudi Aramco to take the appropriate action if service quality degrades.”

The judges added: “[This is] one of the best digitisation (projects) within the Aramco inspection department, which is the ‘need of the day’ to avoid the forging of inspection stickers.”

Runner-up spot went to Mandatory MRT crane rope inspections – Select Plant Hire.

5 The Kevin Holmes Award – Excellence in People Development is for a dedicated team or an individual who has supported colleagues in developing their career in such a way that they clearly deserve industry-wide recognition.

The victor in this section was Crane Operators & Riggers Development – Saudi Aramco.

The company’s people development programme comprises multiple layers of integrated training and certification systems. The programme consists of different levels that provide lifting teamspecific training courses – from a basic crane course, to advanced and specialised crane functions. The training programme uses not only classroom training, but also field supervision and monitoring, which requires each crane operator to compete specific competency tasks.

Aramco’s certification system is a key block in the people development foundation.

The judges were impressed, and called it “phenomenal investment in their people to ensure the highest safety standards”.

“It is clear Aramco takes people development very seriously… a very comprehensive training programme. Impressive”.

Adam Thompson of Stenhouse Lifting Equipment took the runner-up prize.

6 Lifting Equipment Technician is the award for colleagues in the industry who are actively engaged in day-to-day equipment engineering. The judges were looking for a brilliant technician who has done great things. That person was Chris Belka of Sparrows Offshore Services. He was nominated in recognition of his dedication to lifting equipment serviceability and safety, as well as the contributions he has made to Sparrows Offshore and the wider industry.

Belka has several LEEA Diplomas / Advanced Programmes and is now enrolled in the Supporting Structures Diploma.

The judges were “impressed with the range of his skills, knowledge and technical competence”.

“Chris has shown his technical capabilities and prowess in the inspection industry, and is a credit to Sparrows Offshore Services,” they added.

The runner-up was Paul Culham of Sunbelt Rentals.

7 The Lifting Operation Award recognises an incredible lifting operation. The award is aimed at engineering teams that have completed lifting that has defied challenges such as space, inclement weather, height, size or weight.

The winner was MGF/Ainscough (Anfield Stadium, UK) – MGF/Ainscough. Its project involved joining the Anfield Road extension to the existing main stand at Liverpool FC to increase the stadium’s seating capacity by 7,000 seats. Special lifting beams and frames were designed and manufactured specifically for the project, which was a complex lifting operation.

Dominic Morgan of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy placed second in this category.

8 The Rising Star Award goes to a colleague, wherever they are in the business, who is showing real excellence, with evidence of excellent performance, demonstrable progress and high expectations for the future.

The winner was Mark McClure of WH Scott & Son Engineers, with the runnerup being Georgia Stevens of Sunbelt Rentals. The judges said McClure’s “nomination was very strong, showcasing his dedication and professionalism. These attributes are perfect for a nominee of the Rising Star Award”.

9 The Safety Award is aimed at any intervention that has clearly and directly made the industry safer, such as a new product, or internal processes that have effectively managed risk.

The trophy went to Lifting Planning Aid – Sheffield Forgemasters, a web-based lifting calculator designed to ensure safety and correct selection/application of slings and other lifting gear. The initiative has been rolled out across the company’s 64-acre spread of operations including and is claimed to have “virtually eliminated lifting gear failures since its inception, which is a very worthy contribution to eradicating fatalities and injuries in the lifting equipment industry”.

The runner-up spot was taken by Adjustable Lifting Cage – Select Plant Hire.

10 The Sustainable Award is for a member who has created a solution, service or product aimed at reducing environmental impact.

The winner here was Powertex Products – Lifting Solutions Group. Powertex textile slings and lashings are made from recycled polyester. Traditionally, slings and lashings have been made of fossil-based virgin polyester yarn (VPY), with a high carbon footprint, but recycled polyester yarn reaches approximately 90% of the strength of VPY and by adding extra recycled yarn, the final results comply with all relevant standards and regulations while slashing CO2 emissions.

The judges said: “[It’s] fantastic to see Powertex has introduced a sling that can be made from recycled material and still meet standards. Hopefully, we will see more of these across the industry.”

Inspection Tag Recycling Solutions – Stenhouse was the runner-up.


Craig Morelli Award – Best Trainer: Jasen Doyle – Industrial Training International LLC.

Industry Leader Award: Ashley Thacker of Ranger – Lifting Rigging Safety.

Innovation (Product) Award: Rope Watcher – Certex UK.

Innovation (Service) Award: Inspection Department (Lifting Equipment) – Saudi Aramco.

Kevin Holmes Award – Excellence in People Development: Crane Operators & Riggers Development – Saudi Aramco.

Lifting Equipment Technician: Chris Belka -Sparrows offshore Services.

Lifting Operation Award: MGF/Ainscough (Anfield stadium) – MGF/Ainscough.

Rising Star Award: Mark McClure – WH Scott & Son Engineers.

Safety Award: Lifting Planning Aid – Sheffield Forgemasters.

Sustainable Award: Powertex Products – Lifting Solutions Group.