Chris Allwood, managing director of Welsh Slate, has been named Business Person of the Year by the Gwynedd Business Network.
Mr. Allwood was presented with the award at a gala dinner held during Gwynedd Business Week at the University of Wales, Bangor, on May 14. According to Dr Dafydd Roberts of the National Slate Museum in Llanberis, who presented the award, Mr. Allwood was selected due to the positive work he has carried out in the three years since being appointed as Welsh Slate’s MD.
Dr. Roberts said: “When Chris Allwood was appointed to his post as MD at Welsh Slate just over three years ago, he almost immediately faced challenges. Geological issues at Penrhyn Quarry meant he had to tackle a difficult situation. His approach to this was positive; he continued the company’s policy of seeking planning consent to expand the working area – and succeeded. He also continued the policy of ensuring that every ton of rock removed from the rock face produced maximum benefit, and redeployed the work force in a way which entailed that as few as possible faced redundancy.
“Shortly thereafter as well, the slate industry began to face the possibility of having to pay, and back-pay, an increased levy on aggregate production. This constituted a serious threat. Chris won praise and support for all producers of slate aggregate in north-west Wales (not only Welsh Slate) as he fought this threat at an European policy level, on behalf of the sector as a whole.”
Mr. Allwood was also selected for the award due to his work in the north-west of Wales to protect the heritage of slate quarrying communities. He serves as chair of the Llechi Cymru/Wales Slate Partnership, which pulls together representatives from the commercial slate sector, heritage attractions and railways, museums, the Local Authority and Bangor University.
At a local level, he also engages with the town of Bethesda, which is on the doorstep of Penrhyn Quarry. A recent initiative to provide plaques on the homes of local persons of cultural and historical importance saw Welsh Slate providing the raw material for these plaques at no cost to the town’s Historical Society.
Speaking about his award, Mr. Allwood said: “I am honoured to accept this award on behalf of the whole of Welsh Slate. Whatever has been achieved is owed to the commitment and belief in the quality of the material and products produced. I am particularly humbled to receive such an award at the seat of learning established by the contributions of the quarrymen of Penrhyn Quarry in the late 19th Century.
“We are all aware that quarrying still has a major impact on its surroundings and local communities and Welsh Slate remains fully committed to playing its part in its good relationships with its neighbours and local supporters.”