TTJ Awards goes virtual

14 August 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to new solutions and ways of working and that also applies to the TTJ Awards, which will go Virtual for the first time to provide a safe gathering point for the timber trade. TTJ editor Stephen Powney explains what guests can expect from the Virtual experience

There’s no doubt that the coronavirus has taken a huge chunk out of the timber trade calendar in 2020.

Postponements and cancellations have been necessary to protect public health and prevent the spread of the virus - whether it’s association meetings, social gatherings, charity fund-raisers, seminars, conferences, launches or exhibitions.

Back in early May, TTJ took the decision not to hold a physical TTJ Awards in 2020 because it was unlikely the UK government would allow mass gatherings for some time and companies were also being cautious about their travel plans.

When you have up to 400 people in a room in close proximity it is virtually impossible to maintain social distancing.

But with nearly four months of not being able to meet up as a wider industry, we think people are probably champing at the bit to have a meaningful, safe gathering point.

That’s why on September 25 we will be holding the first-ever TTJ Virtual Awards to allow the trade to gather safely, network and celebrate all that’s good about the industry.

What’s more guests will be able to freely attend simply by registering in advance.

The registration page is now live at https:// It’s been such a unique and challenging year, that we think the TTJ Awards should have a different feel this time.

To that end the event will feature a short film showing how the sector has responded to the unique challenges presented by the Covid-19 crisis. Companies can give us their video submissions – whether it’s how companies have adapted operations, personal thoughts about how lockdown has affected them or special fund-raising activities.

There will also be fund-raising for industry charity the Timber Trades’ Benevolent Society (TTBS) and some presentations on key subjects in the industry, such as the low carbon agenda and timber construction.

The Awards traditionally focuses on voted for and judged categories but we are keeping it simple this year and will centre on the voted categories, recognising service excellence across the timber industry in the key areas of wood-based panels, softwood, hardwood, joinery and structural timber systems. Judged categories will return at the 2021 physical event.


  • Panels Trader of the Year
  • Softwood Trader of the Year
  • Hardwood Trader of the Year
  • Joinery Products Supplier of the Year
  • Structural Timber Systems Supplier of the Year
  • Timber Merchant of the Year (open to independent timber/builders’ merchants)
  • Small Timber Business of the Year
  • Timber Trader of the Year

The voting period has been open since the start of May and was due to end on July 10, with voters being customers who buy timber products right down the supply chain from builders, specifiers, joinery firms, furniture producers, other wood product manufacturers, structural timber fabricators, merchants, DIY retailers and distributors. Shortlists will be announced in the coming weeks.

Virtual Experience

So what does a Virtual Awards look like and what can guests expect to experience? TTJ has teamed up with iVent – a digital events specialist and which has handled several virtual events already for other brands in TTJ’s parent company NS Media Group – brands such as the New Statesman, Blueprint and Computer Business Review.

Registered guests will be able to log onto the Virtual Awards platform from 1.30pm on September 25. They will be welcomed into a Lobby area where they will be presented with several options:

  • Main Stage
  • Networking Lounge
  • Categories & Sponsors
  • Resource Centre

The Main Stage will host the awards ceremony plus additional featured content, and guests can see all the timings of the day.

The Networking Lounge will be a place where guests can interact, post messages and engage in discussion topics in real time with other guests both before the Awards, during a scheduled break and after the presentations have finished.

Guests will be able to see the names of those in the Networking Lounge and who they work for.

Another zone is Categories & Sponsors where the shortlists and sponsor details will be hosted – including the facility to engage in one-to-one video or audio chats with the sponsors, such as Combilift, the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) and Lonza. Lots of information and product details from the sponsors can also be downloaded.

The Resource Centre will host a link to donate to our nominated Awards charity for 2020 – the TTBS – and information about the TTJ Awards past and present, as well as details on some feature subjects. A Help Desk will also be manned off the Lobby area for any questions or technical matters.

Sponsor Support

We’re delighted to have attracted sponsorship support for the Virtual event, with Combilift as the headline sponsor once again, the Timber Trade Federation being sponsor of the coveted Timber Trader of the Year Award and Lonza once again supporting the Softwood Trader of the Year Award. Also, thanks to Stora Enso, the STA and Ten-25 Software for their sponsorship support.

“As a major supplier of handling equipment to the timber sector for over two decades now, Combilift is proud to be the headline sponsor of the TTJ Awards once again this year,” said Martin McVicar, MD of Combilift.

“The awards are traditionally a highlight of the calendar for the sector – synonymous with networking, great entertainment, good food and drink and of course for recognising and congratulating the finalists and winners.

“This year, things are a bit different due to the coronavirus, but the TTJ team have been working hard to make sure the virtual event they have planned will be a great success.

“We have all got much more used to virtual meet ups in the last few months so I hope that as many of you as possible will register to attend to see who has made the grade for their outstanding achievements. We look forward to seeing the usual faces – and hopefully many new ones – on Sept 25.”

Meanwhile, the event will also be an opportunity to raise money for the TTBS. “The TTBS Trustees are extremely grateful to the TTJ Virtual Awards for the additional exposure and the fund-raising opportunity the event will bring to the “timber trades’ own charity,” said Ivan Savage, TTBS general manager, who will make a video presentation during the Awards.

“Unprecedented in over 120 years, 2020 will be an extremely difficult year for the Society, with all the fund-raising events being postponed or cancelled due to Covid-19, together with the major impact on the income from our investment portfolio.

“Despite all this, we will continue to support our beneficiaries with grants and allowances to a similar level to 2019, totalling just under £180,000.

“We hope that the industry will take this opportunity to add to the generous financial support they already give us and help us to continue our worthwhile charitable activities.”

“Lonza has been supporting the TTJ Awards event for 10 years now,” said Lonza Wood Protection. “Although this year’s event will not be quite the same face-to-face social experience, we still felt it important to be part of this industry gathering, especially as we all try to return to some form of normality.

“As sponsors we are looking forward to what innovations and opportunities the virtual event will bring and to be able to responsibly communicate with our timber trade customers and friends in what ever way we can in these trying times.”

Meanwhile, TTJ Awards sponsor the TTF says taking the opportunity to celebrate excellence is more important than ever in times of hardship and uncertainty.

“There have been mixed reports from industry on the impact of Covid-19,” said TTF CEO David Hopkins.

“While demand for some product categories have seen an unprecedented surge, others have dampened, with many building sites closed over lockdown. But now, as we embark on the ‘Road to Recovery’ with a government keen to ‘build, build, build’, we see huge opportunities. Timber leads the way in manufacturing and in offering a decarbonised construction supply chain. Both the Construction Leadership Council and the Government have made the direction clear.

“Just as these awards have embraced new ways of working, held online for the first time ever almost a quarter century after they were founded, so too will the industry need to embrace innovation and new ways of doing business.

“Timber is at the forefront of conversations around how we can transform construction for the better, and rightly so. The built environment is a major contributor to climate change.

“Working together towards net zero will bring good business to all. I look forward to joining you on September 25.”

The TTJ Awards 2020 Virtual platform is designed to be a compelling experience
The Howarth Timber Group won the Timber Trader of the Year prize – sponsored by the TTF – at the TTJ Awards 2019