Wales HR Awards Celebrate the Best HR Talent

WALES’ top HR professionals and teams have been recognised at the first Wales HR Awards held at Cardiff’s SSE SWALEC.

The Wales HR Awards has been created and delivered by Acorn, Wales’ specialist recruitment and training agency, and Cardiff-based commercial law firm Darwin Gray, who partner to deliver a series of HR seminars and events through the Wales HR Network.

Hosted by the BBC’s Sian Lloyd, a total of 28 human resources (HR) professionals and eight HR teams were recognised. Bluestone Resorts was named as HR Team of the Year, while Menter a Busnes won the same title in the Welsh language category.

Other winners included Sophie Cecil from New Directions, who was named Best HR Professional in the Financial/Professional Services Sector; Lisa Angus from Panasonic, who was named Best HR Professional in the Manufacturing/Life Sciences Sector and Rhian H Evans from Tai Ceredigion, who won Housing Association HR Professional of the Year.

Sarah Howden at Cardiff Airport was named HR Apprentice/Trainee/Assistant of the Year and Jayne Jones at Hafod Housing was named Best HR Professional in the Charity/Voluntary Organisations Sector.

Louise Halliday-Jones at Welsh National Opera and was named Best HR Professional in the Arts; Catherine Rees from Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol was recognised in the Best Use of the Welsh Language in HR (individual) category and Cherry Torrance at Torrance HR was named Independent HR Consultant of the Year.

Lord Price, Minister of State at the Department for International Trade and former Managing Director of Waitrose was guest speaker. Winners and guests were also entertained by Only Boys Aloud and Welsh National Opera’s Youth Opera, which provides young singers aged 10 to 25 with a training programme and progression route to develop their singing and performance skills and also gain a unique insight into the functions of a major arts organisation.

Fflur Jones, Head of Darwin Gray’s Employment Law and HR Department, said: “Despite being at the core of every successful company, HR is very often an under-acknowledged profession. That’s why I think this event has generated such a positive response; it seems to have really struck a chord.

“We’ve been so impressed by the quality and diversity of the nominations and really value the effort and time put in by all those who entered these inaugural awards. We want this to be an annual celebration of HR excellence and couldn’t be happier with the way it’s been received by HR professionals all over Wales.”

Sarah Jones, Acorn’s Head of Marketing, added: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the response to and support for the first Wales HR Awards. The number of entries received exceeded all our expectations, and the calibre of nominees and winners is outstanding.

Everyone at Acorn and Darwin Gray are so proud to have created these awards. They are now a legacy in Wales, which will recognise and celebrate excellence in HR for years to come.”


The winners are:

Independent HR Consultant of the Year 

Cherry Torrance, Torrance HR


HR Assistant / Apprentice / Trainee of the Year (sponsored by ACT Training) 

Sarah Howden, Cardiff Airport 


HR Team of the Year - (sponsored by Effective Communication) 



Best use of the Welsh Language in HR (Team)


Menter a Busnes


Best use of the Welsh Language in HR (Individual) - (sponsored by Lingua Skin)

Catherine Rees, Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol

Best HR Professional in the Education / Public Sector

Rebecca Cooper, ACT


Best HR Professional in the Manufacturing / Science Sector

Lisa Angus, Panasonic


Housing Association HR Professional of the Year (sponsored by Cardiff Airport)

Rhian H Evans, Tai Ceredigion 


Best HR Professional in the IT / Technology sector

Helen Baldwin, Inspire Tec


Best HR Professional in the Charity and Voluntary Organisations Sectors - (Sponsored by Quantum Advisory)

Jayne Jones, Hafod

Best HR Professional in the Arts

Louise Halliday-Jones, Welsh National Opera



Best HR Professional in the Financial / Professional Services Sector - (Sponsored by Bowen Eldridge)

Sophie Cecil, New Directions


Find out more about the Wales HR Network and Wales HR Awards at 


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