James Bielby, FWD Chief Executive

Bielby: Thriving sector ‘deserves super-size recognition’

The annual Gold Medal awards event enables us to celebrate our thriving sector with more awards recognising brilliance than ever before

Celebrating extraordinary achievements and stand-out ‘best in class’ businesses across the food and drink wholesale landscape at the Gold Medal awards evening is something FWD is incredibly proud of. The event is a time when the sector comes together and recognises the contribution made over the year by wholesalers and suppliers alike.

This year was our biggest Gold Medals night to date, with more members in attendance than ever before – a whopping 900 guests – and more medals awarded than any other time in FWD history.

Why did FWD go large this year? Quite simply because the sector is thriving; it’s growing and it deserves super-size recognition for that.

The Gold Medals is known for several things, and not just the impressive drinks reception or well-known celebrity host.

Firstly, it celebrates the achievements of those working tirelessly behind the scenes. For example, there isn’t an award for best CEO, but there is for best driver. And this year’s best driver, JJ Foodservice’s Kevin Peacock, went the extra mile and was hailed a hero when he saved a woman’s life while out on a routine delivery.

Or celebrating the best telesales star – an award that dates back to the beginning of time and, arguably, the one that gets the loudest applause of the night.


Secondly, the Gold Medals is unique in that it singles out a wholesale star. This is no easy task for the panel of judges; there is always a deluge of entries. But this year FWD was incredibly proud that Filshill’s Health, Safety & Wellbeing Manager Amanda Casey was hailed the star for her tireless effort and commitment to supporting not only her own colleagues but also those across the wholesale sector.

One of the judges summed it up perfectly: “Amanda has moved the wellness sector on and taken us out of the dark ages – she is the blueprint for the sector.”

But it’s not just individuals that are recognised. Possibly the most coveted of the awards is the crowning of the best retail and foodservice wholesale businesses, along with highlighting the cream of the crop among our smaller wholesale members.

Parfetts, Adams Foodservice, Small Beer and Dunsters Farm took home the weighty trophies this year. Agility, growth, exceptional customer service, and commitment to expand responsibly are all attributes these winners demonstrate.

Winning these awards showcases their strengths among suppliers and sets them apart.


FWD has been focused on two distinct areas this year; the launch of Diversity in Wholesale and the publication of the Net Zero roadmap. Both of these areas featured as Gold Medals this year, attracting more entries than ever before. What does that tell us? More and more businesses are recognising that these areas are imperative to address for their future success.

Budweiser Brewing Group and Sysco GB are leading the way on sustainability, while Heineken UK and Creed Foodservice have the diversity, equity and inclusion agenda running through their veins and were celebrated as the very best in this space.

As a trade association, FWD made a fundamental change to its programme almost two years ago by launching the Future Leaders Forum. It’s a movement that has gone from strength to strength as young talented individuals working within the wholesale sector have flocked to join. It not only promotes future leaders across the channel but also supports them in gaining the skills they need to reach their career goals.

Unlike the Future Leaders Forum, the Gold award for emerging talent doesn’t have the 30 and under age restriction, but it does highlight and reward fresh talent that has been working in the sector for up to five years. This year Issy Blatherwick from Budweiser Brewing Group and Holly Pennington from Parfetts took to the stage to receive their emerging talent awards.

It’s no wonder the Gold Medals event is a favourite in the calendar. So as long as our members keep delivering, we shall keep awarding.

Awards Diversity in Wholesale FWD column FWD Gold Medals James Bielby Road to Net Zero