Of course last week’s Timber Trade Federation annual dinner was bound to be auspicious in any event. That was guaranteed by the salubrious new venue, the great hall of the Natural History Museum, complete with its 70ft dinosaur skeleton, and the fact that diminutive, tartan troosered ‘national treasure’ Ronnie Corbett provided the comic relief (‘my wife only lets me wear a sporran when she wants the kitchen floor swept’ etc).

But what made the dinner more memorable and significant still was the unscheduled speech from forestry minister Elliott Morley. He told TTJ that he had wanted to be at the event all along, but a packed ministerial diary looked as though it would keep him away. When a window appeared at the last minute – he didn’t even have time to don a dinner jacket – he dashed over.

The effort he made to attend underlined the TTF’s success in drawing the government’s attention to the timber trade. It has already held a series of meetings with ministers and more are planned.

What Mr Morley’s address also emphasised is that the government is gaining an understanding of the significance of this industry and the contribution it can make to its sustainable development initiatives.

He said the government wants to cultivate a ‘wood using culture’ and to work in partnership with the TTF in ‘pushing forward sustainable construction’. He also thanked the Federation for its advice to the government on the international battle against illegal logging.

Overall it was heartening to hear a politician giving credit to the industry. Let’s hope the TTF can continue to capitalise.

And, of course, no report of the dinner would be complete without mentioning its other memorable moment – the presentation of the first TTF Lifetime Achievement Award to Timbmet chairman Dan Kemp. There could not be a more worthy recipient and TTJ adds its congratulations.