It’s fair to say that I’m not one of life’s natural optimists – I’m very much in the “glass half empty” camp. And every evening the 10 o’clock television news threatens to plunge me further into the slough of despond with its coverage of faltering economies, mass redundancies and general murder and mayhem.

So it did me the power of good to take the Pendolino to Carlisle last month (despite the seasickness it induced) and to pay BSW Timber a visit. Its confidence in both its own future and that of the timber industry in general is pretty inspirational, particularly given these straitened times.

In this issue we cover the installation of the UK’s largest biomass hot water boiler plant at BSW’s Newbridge mill, but the investment doesn’t stop there.

BSW’s plans will be covered in more detail in a feature in a forthcoming issue of TTJ but, by way of example, its Fort William mill is benefiting from investment to the tune of around £8m, £7.5m is destined for the Howie Forest Products’ mill at Dalbeattie, while £6.6m is being ploughed into the Carlisle mill.

These investments “will be worked hard”, according to chief executive Tony Hackney, who added that the group’s goal was to achieve a production capacity of 1.2 million m³ by 2015.

It’s not just about the volumes, however; investment at Carlisle has included a new visitor centre with training facilities designed to help customers understand and get the most from the timber they’re trading. And product development and marketing of British-grown timber continues apace.

Encouragingly, they’re not the only sawmiller exuding confidence at the moment and causing me to re-evaluate the status of my glass. Pre-tax profits at James Donaldson & Sons have increased by a whopping 228%, with turnover nudging the £100m milestone. “We’re delighted to have performed so well when trading conditions remain incredibly challenging”, said executive chairman Neil Donaldson.

There is even some good news from the house building sector, with Persimmon reporting that its trading is running 4% ahead of last year. More encouragingly, its order book is 10% ahead of this time last year.

Given this return to confidence it should come as no surprise to learn that the inaugural Timber Expo has, at time of writing, just three stands to sell. And I have no doubt that, given the persuasive marketing by its event director and the growing sense that it’s safe for the timber industry to put its head above the parapet again, by the time the doors open on September 27 those remaining stands will have been taken. It promises to be a remarkable event.

Speaking of remarkable events, we are on the cusp of announcing the winners of this year’s TTJ Awards, an event we’re immensely proud to say has become a highlight – if not the highlight – of the timber industry calendar.

This year’s competition has seen both an increase in votes and a bumper crop of entries across the judged categories. And again, it’s not all about volume – the quality was there as well, as this year’s judges will testify.

So perhaps tonight, as I watch the news, I’ll drink a toast – with a glass half full, of course – to all the entrants and winners of the TTJ Awards.