HR Excellence Awards

The HR Excellence Awards are now closed for entry and the shortlist for the ceremony has been announced! We can’t wait to celebrate the gold standard of HR strategies and initiatives with you at our ceremony on the 2nd July 2019. 

The HR Excellence Awards are the most sought after, the most prestigious and the longest running awards in the field of HR. They recognise the organisations and individuals pushing the boundaries of people strategy.

Entering is simple. All you need to do is write a 2,000-word document outlining your entry according to the category criteria, and submit via the website. A full category breakdown and advice on entering the awards are available to help you.

This year we are delighted to add a new category for 2019: People-focused workplace design award.

Jenny Roper
HR Magazine

Kindly sponsored by:

HR director of the year

Click a director to view more information

We are delighted to announce our shortlist for the HR Director of the Year 2019. The shortlist is produced following nominations and input from the HR editorial team, readers and industry experts and is based on achievements during the period 2018/19.

This award is for someone with exceptional skills at putting people top of their agenda; someone the world of HR should look up to as an example of excellence. The shortlist has been announced in the May issue of the publication and on www.hrmagazine.co.uk. It is now up to our readers to vote for the winner.

2019 Shortlist
Jon Dawson, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
Fiona Deal, Network Homes
Alistair Gill, Giffgaff
Kim Healy, Everton Football Club
Valerie Hughes-D’Aeth, BBC
Simon Linares, Direct Line Group
Pam Parkes, Essex County Council
Jane Storm, Connect Group
Sue Shutter, Regent’s University London
Kerry Smith, British Heart Foundation

Please click here to make your vote!

The deadline is midnight on Sunday 26th May.

The winner will be announced at the awards ceremony on Tuesday 2nd July at the London Hilton on Park Lane.

Shortlist 2019

Best HR team
  • Dorchester Collection
  • Financial Times
  • Galliard Homes
  • Network Homes
  • The Creative Engagement Group
  • Wiltshire Council
  • Wienerberger
  • XPO Logistics

Best CSR strategy

  • Connect Group
  • Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London
  • Microgaming
  • Network Homes
  • Unipart Group

Best HR strategy from overseas

  • American Tire Distributors
  • Hayleys Plantations Sector
  • Ooredoo Oman
  • Visible Alpha Solutions India
Best learning and development strategy

  • Armstrong World Industries
  • Be At One
  • British Heart Foundation
  • Dorchester Collection
  • Imperial Brands
  • J Murphy & Sons
  • Network Homes
  • Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution Care Company
  • The Berkeley Partnership
  • VHR
  • XPO Logistics

Best talent management strategy

  • British Heart Foundation and Macmillan Cancer Support
  • Johnsons Apparelmaster
  • Lancaster University
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • United Utilities

Best youth employment strategy

  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
  • Capgemini
  • Lancaster University
  • Network Rail

Diversity and inclusion award

  • BBC
  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
  • Costain Group
  • Everton Football Club
  • Financial Times
  • MTR Crossrail
  • Odeon Cinemas Group

Health and Wellbeing award

  • British Heart Foundation
  • Coventry Building Society
  • Department for Work & Pensions
  • Ella’s Kitchen
  • Financial Ombudsman Service
  • NHS Blood and Transplant
  • Phonographic Performance
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Three UK
  • Unipart Group
  • XPO Logistics

HR future leader of the year

  • Craig Morgans, The AA
  • Alice Williams, Landsec
  • Grace Rogers, Network Rail

Leading transformation award

  • Allied Irish Bank UK
  • BBC
  • BP
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Network Homes
  • Southern Co-op
  • The Metropolitan Police Service
  • West Dunbartonshire Council

Most effective recruitment strategy

  • The AA
  • Government Recruitment Service, in collaboration with PSI
  • Connect Group
  • Network Rail
  • Nomad Foods Europe
  • Office for Nuclear Regulation
  • Travelodge
  • Siemens
  • Volkswagen Financial Services
  • XPO Logistics

Most effective use of internal comms

  • British Heart Foundation
  • BT Group
  • Firstport
  • HSBC
  • The PHA Group
  • The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust

Most innovative deployment of HR technology

  • American Tire Distributors
  • Church of England
  • Questback/John Lewis Partnership
  • JPI Media
  • Pizza Hut
  • Siemens
  • The AA
  • Turkish Economy Bank
  • Wiltshire Council

Most People-focused CEO
  • Matthew Austin
  • Kate Bendall and Louise Laver
  • Ffyona Dawber
  • Richard Flint
  • Scott Gardner
  • Paul Harris
  • Rob Jupp
  • Helen McHale
  • Tim Morfin
  • David Stevens

Outstanding employee engagement strategy

  • MTR Crossrail
  • Network Homes
  • Odeon Cinemas Group
  • Phonographic Performance
  • The Berkeley Partnership
  • Virgin Media
  • Wiltshire Council

People-focused workplace design award

  • British Heart Foundation
  • Everton Football Club
  • Financial Conduct Authority
  • Microgaming
Reward and recognition award

  • Everton Football Club
  • Kier Group PLC
  • Morgan Sindall Property Services

The Ceremony

The HR Excellence Awards ceremony is renowned as the night in the HR calendar, attracting the UK’s most talented HR individuals, teams and companies. By attending the awards you will have the opportunity to network with over 600 fellow HR professionals and learn about the strategies that raise the profile of HR.

The gala dinner and awards ceremony for the 24th annual HR Excellence Awards will take place on Tuesday 2nd July, at the prestigious London Hilton on Park Lane, where all the winners will be revealed.

Ticket price includes champagne on arrival overlooking London’s stunning Hyde Park, an excellence three course meal including half a bottle of wine per person and live entertainment from a top-class host, as well as attendance at the most prestigious awards in HR. You will able to book your places for 2019 once the shortlist is announced in April. 

Ceremony details

Date: 2 July 2019
Dress code: Black tie
Venue: Hilton on Park Lane, London

Time Event
18:45 Drinks reception
19:30 Dinner
21:30 Awards ceremony
23:00 After party
01:00 Carriages

Premium tables: Make your organisation stand out and your team feel exceptional by booking one of our limited premium tables. A premium table will guarantee you and your team a prime table position, a branded meeting point on arrival and two bottles of champagne on ice waiting for you on your table.

Prices 2019

Sector Premium table Standard table Table of 12 Standard seat
Early Bird
£3995.00 £2850.00 £3420.00 £295.00
Private £3995.00 £3150.00 £3780.00 £325.00
Early Bird
£3995.00 £1750.00 £2100.00 £185.00
Public £3995.00 £1850.00 £2220.00 £195.00

The Early Bird prices will expire on the 26th April 2019

* All prices exclude VAT.
* Premium tables are not subject to any discounts.
* Please ensure that you have read our terms and conditions before booking – which notes details about our cancellation policy


Click a category to view more information

The deadline to enter the awards is Monday 11th March 2019.


How to gain sponsorship with us

The HR Excellence Awards are recognised as the benchmark of excellence in the HR community. Now in their 24th year, the HR Excellence Awards are a unique opportunity for the whole industry to gather on a single evening to celebrate the best in achievement, ability and performance. The Awards Ceremony takes place on the 2nd July at the prestigious London Hilton Hotel and it sees the industry’s leading movers and shakers gather to honour their peers in the HR community. In 2018 over 600 industry professionals attended making it the most prestigious event in the HR calendar.

Benefits Include:

  • Alignment with the HR magazine brand
  • Networking opportunity with 600 senior HR professionals
  • Table at the gala dinner and awards ceremony on 2nd July at the 5* London Hilton on Park Lane
  • Presentation of an award on the night
  • Visual marketing at the event
  • Branding in HR magazine, on www.hrmagazine.co.uk and in the prestigious awards brochure
  • Logo on all electronic and print marketing before and after the event

Please get in touch with our sponsorship team to discuss how we can help your organisation maximise its exposure by becoming identified with the most prestigious awards in the industry.

To discuss your options contact Edith Barrett  on 020 7501 6716 or edith.barrett@markallengroup.com


Frequently Asked questions

Please see answers to some frequently asked questions below. If your question is not answered here, please get in touch with the awards team on 020 7501 6782, who will be happy to help.

The ceremony will be held on Tuesday 2nd July 2019. You will be able to book your table in April once the shortlist has been announced.

The deadline to enter the awards is Monday 11th March 2019. You can enter with the early bird entry price until Friday 18th January 2019. 

Your entry document consists of a 2,000-word essay outlining your entry. Please see the ‘tips for entering’ tab for more detail.

If you enter before 18th January 2019 you can enter at a discounted rate. 
For private companies, it costs £350 (increasing to £385 after the 18th January).
For public and not-for-profit companies, it costs £175 (increasing to £195 after the 18th January).

For private companies entering more than one award, each subsequent entry costs £195.
There is no limit on the number of entries you may submit. However, you should avoid duplicating entries across multiple categories, tailoring the entry specifically to the criteria of the category you are entering.
Yes, although their permission must be obtained and evidence of this shown. You will be asked to provide contact details of a senior person at the organisation. We may or may not contact this person.
International companies can enter the ‘Best HR strategy overseas’ AND ‘Most innovative deployment of HR technology’. International companies who have a presence in (have offices in or do a lot of business in) the UK are able to enter any category.
No. UK based companies can enter any other category.
The shortlist for this category is created by the HR magazine editorial team and is not open for general entry. However, you may suggest nominating your HR director by contacting us. 
The shortlist for this category is created by the HR magazine editorial team and is not open for general entry. However, you may suggest nominating your HR director by contacting us.
The main component of your entry is the entry document. All key information listed in the criteria for the category needs to be in the entry document and not in the supporting material.

Supporting material is optional and may be submitted in addition to the entry document. It should be used to illustrate/demonstrate what is in the entry document. Supporting material may include, but is not limited to: photographs, testimonials, graphs/data, videos (please send USB stick), hard copies of any printed material (e.g. brochures). Whilst supporting material is important and helpful to the judges, we ask that you keep these documents to a reasonable amount.
In terms of entries, once your entry is submitted, you may withdraw it until the closing date. Your entry fee will not be refunded. 

In terms of table and seat bookings at the awards ceremony, written cancellations received within six weeks prior to the event will be accepted and a refund of 90% of the booking charge will be made. After this date, no refunds can be given. Please click here to read our terms and conditions in full.
Once you have submitted your entries they will be processed by the awards team, ready for judging. Judging takes place in April and we will announce the shortlist in mid- April 2019.
The winners are announced at the ceremony on Tuesday 2nd July in London. Please keep this date free in your diary.
The HR Excellence Awards 2019 will be judged by a panel of judges made up of some of the UK’s top HR directors working in leading organisations.

Contact Us

Don't Hesitate to get in touch with us...

Bianca Banoo

Events Executive

General Enquiries HR Magazine


020 3874 9223

Edith Barrett

Sales Manager

Sponsorship Enquiries HR Magazine


020 7501 6716

Emma Blick

Sales Manager


020 3874 9218


Winner: Network Homes

In 2015 things were not going well at Network Homes. Employee survey results were, in the words of the housing association, ‘dire’, with staff feeling disengaged, undervalued and unappreciated. Customer satisfaction ratings were average at best, with the two clearly linked. So it launched a new people and culture agenda, with the aim of unlocking discretionary effort in pursuit of first class customer service. In the same way an airline might have multiple routes, the team hit on the idea of an L&D strategy with a range of ‘stops’. They provided staff with special HART passports (HART standing for hungry, accountable, respectful and together). In October 2018 the organisation achieved outstanding levels of employee engagement in its staff survey. Our judges commented that they “thoroughly enjoyed” reading this entry, commenting that it had a “a real buzz about it”.


Winner: Visible Alpha Solutions India

The approach taken by Visible Alpha’s people team would be highly impressive even if the company was headquartered elsewhere, those HRDs judging this category felt. The fact the firm is based in a country and culture “not known for looking after its workforces” makes this entry even more attention-grabbing, they felt. Working from the premise that success starts with differentiation and how creative products are, the organisation’s HR ethos has always centered around how important employees are to this. “Everything [Visible Alpha is] doing is just a bit quirky,” commented one judge in relation to this entry. “I loved this one, I found it really energizing,” said another, with another agreeing that it was “high energy [and that they] got that sense of real purpose and buzz, which was nice to read”.


Winner: British Heart Foundation

In 2016 the charity had a growing headcount in its London head office and was rapidly running out of space. And so the Smarter Working project was born. Everyone was asked their opinion and people said they wanted a better mix of spaces, areas, to work in a more agile way, and more access to leaders. And so the exec team led by example, giving up their offices right at the beginning of the project. A weekly ‘Smart cookies’ email and a Yammer group kept people up to date. Move schedules were shared as early as possible and ‘Cut the clutter’ parties held. Since the project began the organisation’s achieved a 60% headcount increase and only an 11% desk increase, saving £748,055 per annum or £3,740,275 over five years. “This is never going to be one of the ten coolest offices in the UK but it doesn’t need to be,” one of our judges commented, with the panel agreeing that this was solid, organisation-enhancing stuff.


Winner: Financial Conduct Authority

The Financial Conduct Authority’s relocation from Canary Wharf to the Olympic Park in Stratford was the biggest headquarters move in Europe in 2018. No wonder that our judges described it as the “gold standard” of people-focused workplace design and as “exceptional work”. A massive investment was made by anyone’s standards. But this doesn’t detract from it. Impressive features of the new building include: hybrid laptops, with the new technology much lighter so staff could work from home or around the variety of offices settings created; living walls and natural foliage; a wellbeing floor featuring a fully equipped gym and rooms for health initiatives such as flu jab vaccinations, pregnancy clinics and occupational health assessments; and contemplation and parenting rooms. Results include 87% of staff agreeing they were satisfied with the access to outdoor spaces (against 30% pre-move); and turnover remaining static over the whole period of the move.


Winner: Everton Football Club

Everton Football Club’s reward and recognition strategy has been built around the Club motto: ‘Nothing But the Best is Good Enough’. Our judges described this work as “one of the best examples [they’d] seen of a holistic strategy” in this area, particularly praising the club’s move to become a Living Wage employer in 2016. The organisation offers a seven-grade pay structure to provide a consistent, open and transparent unifying framework. Job evaluation techniques determine grade, and grade structure and descriptors are communicated to employees via career discussions with managers. When it comes to bonuses, the system is designed to be simple and fair and to drive performance; and the range of benefits offered is competitive, with a benefit to trade holidays particularly popular.


Winner: Capgemini

As a global consulting and technology business, Capgemini needs to recruit, retain and motivate the best talent.

Which is why in light of the nation’s growing digital talent gap and an education system facing numerous challenges, it made the bold move to broaden its recruitment strategy out to school-leavers looking for an alternative route into the workplace. 

Key to this has been the launch of the Capgemini Degree Apprenticeship programme in 2017, which made Capgemini the first UK employer in the technology industry to deliver degree apprenticeship graduates. Commitment doesn’t end there though, with school outreach programmes, STEM school competitions, and the building of a Coding Academy.


Winner: Three UK

Three UK has put employees at the heart of everything, to support them both inside and outside of work. 

At the centre of this is a holistic wellbeing strategy focused around three pillars – Energise, Connect and Balance. There’s been the rollout of initiatives like Wellness Wednesdays, where meetings are banned between 12pm – 2pm every Wednesday, encouraging everyone to take time out for activities like yoga and football. There’s also the three paid days a year to use for those unmissable personal moments. And the Being Me, Being Three course which, through CBT and mindfulness techniques, helps people bring their best to work every day. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.


Winner: BBC

The BBC is facing unprecedented times.

Amazon and Netflix have transformed the media industry and ramped up competition, while the new government charter means the BBC must put programmes out to competition.

Yet, as the industry shifted, the BBC was stuck in the past. There were local agreements across different departments – some dating back to the 1970s – meaning widespread inconsistencies and unfairness.

HR decided to act, embarking on a modernisation of T&Cs and culture. What followed next was the biggest change to terms and ways of working in the BBC’s recent history.

Through working closely with the unions, launching joint working groups to develop proposals, and communicating effectively with the workforce, the proposals were voted through on the first ballot attempt – an historic achievement.


Winner: Network Homes

Rewind to 2015 and Network Homes was, admittedly, in poor shape. It had just come off the back of a failed merger, the workforce was disengaged, and customers – many of whom are vulnerable individuals – were dissatisfied. Radical change was needed. Fast forward to 2019 and it has seen a 15% uplift in employee engagement, huge reductions in staff turnover, and made the Sunday Times Best Companies list.

After first reinventing HR, the employee engagement journey involved 10 clear steps including setting new values and behaviours and promoting health and wellbeing.

But the journey hasn’t all been plain sailing. In 2017, the Grenfell Tower tragedy shook the social housing sector. This posed the biggest challenge to date, throwing the association into crisis management mode, diverting resources and slashing budgets, including that of the engagement strategy.


Winner: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London

Two weeks before the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London opened after a £100 million refurbishment a huge fire devastated the hotel. 600 staff were left without work for the six to eight months it would take to rebuild. The HR team sprang into action and turned disaster into opportunity. It made sense to try and retain people rather than rehire and retrain, so the business offered employees the chance to work overseas in the group’s other hotels, or volunteer locally. All staff were fully paid during the rebuild, 77 gained new skills overseas, and 40,000 hours were clocked volunteering. Of the 600 colleagues affected by the fire only 27 left. Judges described it as “hands down the best story of any submission”, a “standout moment” and “a great example for other organisations”.


Winner: BBC

Sponsored by:

As a public institution with a wide-ranging audience it seems only right that the BBC’s workforce was just as diverse. Its Diversity and Inclusion Strategy was launched in 2016 and lays out specific targets for 2020. The broadcaster is making good progress on these, having exceeded some and drawing very close to all others. It looks set to achieve them all by the 2020 goal. The organisation set up five work streams dedicated to BAME, gender, disability, socio-economics, and LGBT+. It then asked staff to about the challenges for each group. It committed to deliver every one of the 128 recommendations and investment of £4.7 million over three years was secured to support these ambitions. To date 31% of the recommendations have been completed and 51% are in progress. Judges praised this as “a standout entry” with a “burning business case for change”. They described the achievements so far as “fantastic” and appreciated that it’s “not a quick fix; it’s a sustainable offer”.


Winner: British Heart Foundation and Macmillan Cancer Support

British Heart Foundation and Macmillan Cancer Support are two of the UK’s largest charities. They encounter similar people problems; particularly when it comes to competing for talent from a relatively small pool. Back in 2016 neither organisation had a formal graduate problem, further complicating talent attraction. That year they collaborated to create GradUnique, a jointly-funded talent development programme. The unique partnership makes the best use of combined resources, gives graduates experiences in two organisations and nurtures the careers of talented and ambitious candidates. They spend a year in each charity, undertaking two placements in each from a broad range of areas. . There have been year-on-year increases in the numbers applying from 521 in January 2016 to 999 in January 2019.


Winner: JPI Media

JPI Media’s previous approach to monitoring sales calls and visits was highly subjective and became a tick-box exercise that had little impact. The business needed to introduce a motivating system to galvanise employees and provide opportunities to develop. Additionally, it wanted to help salespeople understand and recognise best practice conversations. It launched the Sales Excellence programme in January 2018 and customised learning and development technology Development Insights. Key to the programme’s success has been how the commercial leadership has been engaged and driving it. JPI Media also filmed and animated more than 300 videos. Where someone has some development opportunities as highlighted by their manager, an algorithm works out the most important videos that individual should watch. This creates a personal learning journey. Results so far are good. Throughout 2018 revenue per head improved in telesales by 12% and in field sales by 8%. Average order value increased by 24% in telesales and 13% in field sales. Attrition in telesales has reduced by 23%.


Winner: British Heart Foundation

In 2018, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) needed a new brand to support their vision for the future – they needed to make more money faster, to fund life saving research. Working closely with the brand team to establish a network of Brand ambassadors that could help engage teams while also feeding back elements that could enhance the people experience. Launched a week ahead of the external go–live of the external advert it encouraged colleagues to share their stories, using an emotional thread. The work paid off. Their social meida campaign #closetomyheart generated 52 online conversations reaching c.2000 of colleagues across the organisation online, and was shared through off line channels through ‘bake and a brew’. We’re delighted to show our appreciation for all of British Heart Foundation’s work, which is always in touch with their values, and to present them with this award today.


Winner: Siemens

The application process can always be a difficult area to get right. When Siemens spoke to hiring managers and candidates, they found through targeted focus groups and extensive surveys that their approach wasn’t making the cut.

Implementing behavioural assessments enabled them to tackle these challenges head on. The results were an overall assessment center pass rate increased from 24% in 2016 to 40% in 2017 (60% for some businesses), drop-out rates were 0.6% (typically they are 20% with traditional psychometric testing), and a 12.6% increase in hiring manager satisfaction regarding the selection process being enjoyable for candidates. Here is a brand who recognise that it’s not the time to be afraid of the future of work, but embrace it as an opportunity to stretch themselves, think creatively and develop a strategic partnerships with business. A great strategic approach towards recruitment, and an inspiringly innovative HR excellence awards winner.


Winner: Grace Rogers

In her short time in HR Network Rail Grace Rogers’ diligence and enthusiasm has shone through. Her innovative approach with colleagues coupled with her ambition and optimism, make her a role model for self-development, a sought-after partner from senior stakeholders, with an influencing extending far beyond the Network Rail resourcing and HR community. The far-reaching effects of Roger’s’ commitment, dedication, innovative and customer focused approach has been felt by all levels of Network Rail resourcing and HR community. The team said she demonstrated the customer focus, drive and hunger of a future leader to make a quantitative and cultural difference to the organisation she works within


Winner: Network Homes

Following a failed merger in 2015, the HR team at Network Homes realised they had to become the best they could be before they could start helping others. Since then, with the help of a new director committed to building pride, and confidence, and self-belief, the organisation underwent a change strategy which saw them halve turnover, boost engagement, and ramp up the number of internal hires significantly. While the team had been told it would take years to turn things around, Network Homes did all this in just six months. The judges noted that Network Homes are clearly a “vibrant, innovative team”, who have clearly managed to rise against every challenge against them with honesty and open mindedness. The organisation are an example of how to deliver results and stand by their people in even the most challenging of times, and are a truly deserving winner of an HR excellence awards.


Winner: Helen McHale

"Described as “always interested and interesting” CEO Helen McHale chose to focus on culture and growing her team out of austerity in a time when the housing sector was under strain. Under her watch, the organisation has three subsidiaries, 650 staff, and continues to grow by the minute. The group say that their CEO has achieved this through an intimate and local approach, as McHale has shown herself to be a visible, approachable leader who cares deeply about the wellbeing of her people. McHale has demonstrated overwhelming bravery and openness in even the most difficult of times, having tragically lost her son last year. Barely taking a day off, McHale shared her experience with employees and let them know that they too could take solace in an environment where they could always feel safe to open up about challenges. As a CEO who prioritises the wellbeing and happiness of her staff, the judges also recognised that McHale is a real inspiration with exceptional values. A huge congratulation to an exceptionally courageous, people focused CEO."


Winner: Fiona Deal, executive director of people and culture, Network Homes

When Deal arrived at Network Homes in 2015 the housing association had just emerged from unsuccessful merger negotiations. It was in the middle of fundamental and difficult changes to its organisational structure, with the aim of collapsing a complex federal group of companies into a single operating organisation. With her approachable, compassionate style, Deal was the ideal person to lead a radical but necessary restructure of the organisation. “Fiona has made a significant change for the better at Network Homes, she has helped to bring the company into the 21st century and it's now a company that I am proud to be a part of,” commented one employee, with many former colleagues also taking the time to vote for her. Deal is certainly, then, someone who leaves a lasting impression. We can’t wait to see what she achieves next.


Winner: Network Homes

A lot has changed at Network Homes over the last four years.

Back in 2015, the charitable housing association was facing a whole host of challenges. Today, the organisation is almost unrecognisable. Employee engagement, customer satisfaction, staff sickness, turnover, productivity… all have been transformed.

It then seems only right that Network Homes has swept the board at the HR Excellence awards, taking home Best HR team, Best learning and development strategy, Outstanding employee engagement strategy, HR director of the year, as well as the prestigious Gold award.

Executive director people and technology Fiona Deal can be credited with spearheading much of the change, since she joined the organisation and was handed the unenviable task to "build a great organisation". A revamp of the HR function, the rollout of a new L&D strategy, and a 10-step employee engagement strategy have all followed.

It’s certainly been a busy few years, in which HR has truly demonstrated what excellence is all about. We couldn’t be happier to honour Deal and the team with this year’s Gold award.