Some people are sniffy about industry awards. What’s the point? they ask. Isn’t it all a bit of mutual backslapping?

Such people have definitely figured at the journalism awards events I’ve been to, looking disdainfully on as a rival trips up to the stage to collect their trophy. Miraculously, though, if their names get read out, all the cynicism slips away. They’re up on stage before you can even pat them on the back, waving their trophy as enthusiastically as the rest.

Some people do stick to their guns and turn down the accolade, but I share Peter Ustinov’s suspicion that to refuse awards is another way of accepting them with more noise than normal!

Which brings us to the 2011 TTJ Awards – not that, in my recollection, anyone has ever turned down one.

Preparations for this year’s presentations event on September 15 are now well under way. Votes are being canvassed for the Trader of the Year Awards and entries are open for the judged categories. London’s Grand Connaught Rooms have been booked as the venue and the host this year will be developer, TV presenter and businesss motivational speaker Sarah Beeny.

From humble beginnings, the TTJ Awards have become an industry fixture, attracting entries and votes from across the sector, with the event itself getting audiences of 400-plus.

Sure, it involves back slapping. But surely, that’s a good thing. All individuals, companies and, indeed, industries, need encouragement and morale boosting, and it’s not empty flattery either. The awards go to companies recognised by peers and customers as offering exemplary service and, in the judged categories, to those which have recorded exceptional achievement in a particular area of business or the market.

The Awards themselves have also evolved with the times to reflect a changing market place, product developments and different ways of doing business. So we introduced an award for Achievement in Engineered Timber, and changed the Trainee Award to the Career Development Award to recognise that people in the timber sector are increasingly training throughout their working lives.

This year we’ve launched the Website of the Year Award, underlining the growing importance of an effective, professional online presence in the sector, not only for marketing and communication but, in a growing number of cases, for buying and selling as well.

The Awards attempt to fulfil another role too. It’s still recognised that one of the weaknesses of the timber industry is its fragmentation, which occasionally means it does not punch its true weight in the market or with decision makers. That picture is changing thanks to the efforts of The Timber Trade Federation and other sector organisations to work together on key issues, such as training. The revival of the Wood for Good campaign and growing success of the Wood Awards, recognising architects, designers and manufacturers for exceptional use of timber in construction and furniture, also show this sector acting in concert. But there is still scope for development on this front and the contribution the TTJ Awards can make is to present UK timber plc to the market as a valued, valuable and cohesive business which is delivering exceptional service and products, moving with the times and achieving high levels of performance across a range of areas.

There may be some concern by our publishers that the TTJ Awards are now sometimes referred to simply as The Timber Industry Awards. But, in my view, that’s the ultimate slap on the back for the event itself. It shows it’s doing its job.

For more information and entry forms click here.