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Rugby and Strictly star, Austin Healey, presents EDA trophies

Former England and British and Irish Lions Rugby star, Austin Healey, joined the Electrical Distributors’ Association’s (EDA) Annual Awards Dinner to entertain guests and to present the EDA Investor in Training Awards to 10 high performing wholesalers and manufacturers. 500 guests attended the Association’s Annual Dinner on Thursday 23 September 2021 at the Intercontinental on London’s Park Lane.

EDA Investor in Training Award Winners 2021
EDA Investor in Training Award Winners 2021 with EDA President, Chris Ashworth, and special guest Austin Healey, and sponsors.

Known as ‘The Leicester Lip’, and with 51 caps for his country and two European cups, Austin also entertained guests with stories from his professional career.

Rugby and Strictly star, Austin Healey
Rugby and Strictly star, Austin Healey, entertains guests

The EDA Investor in Training Awards celebrate leaders from the electrotechnical sector who have championed the professional development and training for their teams and businesses through the EDA Apprenticeship Service and the EDA Product Knowledge Training Modules. The awards are sponsored by the Association’s partners, respectively, EDA Apprenticeships Plus and The Institution of Engineering & Technology.

EDA President, CEF’s Chris Ashworth, said “Since we last presented these awards in March 2020 so much has happened but our sector has fared better than most, and for that we are very grateful. Tonight we meet again as friends and colleagues, celebrating the extraordinary individuals who make this sector what it is today. These winners have delivered exceptional results for their businesses through the Association’s Apprenticeship Service and the Product Knowledge Module Programme. This is a sector that invests in the professional development of its people – a strong message which will help each of our businesses attract the best and brightest talent.”

EDA Investor in Training Award Winners 2021
EDA Investor in Training Award Winners 2021 celebrating their win with trophies held aloft Left – Right: Bradley Rodwell; Gary Butcher; Paul Akery; Craig Parker; David Freshwater; Paul Williams; Austin Healey; Chris Heading; Simon Lane; Ian Hunter; Steve Parry

Margaret Fitzsimons, CEO at the EDA, added “During the pandemic training was the last thing on people’s minds, but as the sector started to emerge through recovery, we have seen a surge in demand for both EDA training modules and apprenticeships.

“Businesses are only as good as their people: if you’ve invested in training and professional development those individuals will have the skills to sustain your business through the tough times. The 8 wholesaler award winners we celebrate tonight understand that, and they have used both the EDA’s Apprenticeship Service and the Product Knowledge Modules to build gold-standard teams. And this year we also have 2 manufacturers winning Awards: Steve Parry of Termination Technology and Ian Hunter of Electrium Sales. Our Affiliates are really getting the message that the EDA’s apprenticeship and training services and support are as relevant and accessible to them as they are to the wholesalers.”

EDA Investor in Training Award 2021 Winners

  1. Simon Lane, Branch Manager, Medlock Electrical Distributors, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire (part of the ANEW buying group);

  2. Chris Heading, Director and Branch Manager, 3 Line Electrical, Nottingham (part of the AWEBB buying group);

  3. Gary Butcher, Branch Manager, Harlow, Essex, Rexel UK Ltd;

  4. Steve Parry, Commercial Director, Termination Technology, EDA Affiliate Manufacturer;

  5. Paul Akery, Branch Manager, Wellingborough, CEF;

  6. Bradley Rodwell, Branch Manager, Chelmsford, Edmundson Electrical Ltd;

  7. David Freshwater, Director, Premier Electrical Ltd, Carlisle, Cumbria (part of the Fegime UK buying group)

  8. Russ Gratton, Recon Electrical Ltd, Chesterfield (part of The IBA Buying Group). Russ was unable to attend and his award was collected by the Deputy Chair of The IBA Buying Group, Paul Williams of Acorn Electrical Supplies in St Helens

  9. Craig Parker, Centre Manager, Southampton, Stearn Electric Co Ltd;

  10. Ian Hunter, Head of Sales & Marketing, Electrium Sales Ltd (A Siemens Company)

About Austin Healey

As flexible on the rugby field as off it, Austin represented both England and the British & Irish Lions. He then became equally well known for his fancy footwork on Strictly Come Dancing. Austin’s long career as a utility back with the Leicester Tigers was punctuated by injury, but it didn’t stop him winning two European Cups for his club and 51 caps for his country. Since his retirement Austin has worked in banking and provided punditry for the BBC and BT Sports, as well as coming very close to winning the ballroom crown with Erin Boag. Austin’s approach to challenges is as relevant to business as it is to sport: know more, prepare more, push harder. In motivational speeches he talks about creating a winning culture, living the brand, and establishing a flexible framework which designates roles to those who need them but liberates those who don’t. Most importantly, Austin argues that success is not just about winning - it’s knowing how you won so you can develop the winning habit. After dinner ‘The Leicester Lip’ may refer to the ins and outs of a Woodward pep-talk, and why Martin Johnson should never use the back seat. As in his book, Me and My Mouth, Austin talks frankly and wittily about his time in rugby. Ever reluctant to hang up his sequins, he might also lift the lid on the Strictly Tour - where he achieved even more success than on television.

About the Electrical Distributors’ Association (EDA)

Serving and representing the UK’s electrical wholesale sector for over 100 years the Electrical Distributors’ Association (EDA) is a membership organisation for the UK’s electrical wholesale sector. Launched in 1914 as the Electrical Wholesalers’ Federation (EWF), the Association refocused and rebranded in 1998 as the EDA. Membership is available to wholesalers, whilst manufacturers can join as affiliated members.

Benefits of membership include:

  • Networking Events

  • Training & Apprenticeships

  • Business Advice and Information

  • Initiatives, Campaigns and Projects

  • Recognition, Visibility and Exposure

The EDA’s Training & Apprenticeship Programme is twofold: apprenticeships and the City & Guilds accredited Product Knowledge Programme of 12 modules. Each module is standalone distance-learning training course, comprising a hard-copy Textbook and a digital End of Module Assessment (EDA). The EDA appointed The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) to manage the Programme.

In 2011 the EDA partnered with EDA Apprenticeships Plus to offer comprehensive and flexible apprenticeship service for the Associations’ members and affiliates. The menu of services includes all recruitment, HR and mentoring support and can be tailored around the needs of the business. Managers benefit from ready access to apprenticeship expertise and support to help navigate the training and funding landscape. In addition, EDA Apprenticeships Plus offer levy management services to larger businesses.

The EDA currently has over 250 wholesaler members and over 90 affiliated members, who are suppliers of products or services. Membership includes the leading national wholesalers Edmundson Electrical Ltd, Rexel UK, CEF and Stearn Electric Co Ltd, as well as hundreds of independent electrical wholesales businesses of all sizes, most of whom are members of the UK’s largest buying groups ANEW, AWEBB, Fegime UK and The IBA Buying Group.

The EDA has been a member of the European Union of Electrical Wholesalers (EUEW) since


The EDA represents an estimated 75-80% of the UK electrical wholesale industry.


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