The Lions Return

01/04/2021 09:00

Having previously endured snowstorms in 2014, Storm Doris in 2017 and the Beast from the East 2018, the London Showcase Event, now in its 12th year, was unshaken by the Covid-19 pandemic.

More than 100 delegates joined virtually to ensure the event’s continued success. This year, to celebrate 10 years of the Lions’ Lair, the Section brought back previous winners so one could be crowned the ‘Champion of Champions’.

The judging panel consisted of Chris Bielby, Chair of Gas Industry Safety Group (GISG), Chris Clarke, Energy Strategy Director at Wales & West Utilities, James Harrison, Director of the London Network at Cadent, and Paul Denniff, Network and Safety Director at SGN.

Andrew Musgrave, SGN’s Head of Engineering and Network Strategy and Chair of the London, Southern & Eastern Section, opened the proceedings before SGN Chief Executive Officer John Morea introduced a special presentation from 12-year-old Harriet Blessing.

Harriet is a Year 8 student at Royds School, in Oulton, who, together with her Solutions for the Planet teammate, came up with an idea for ‘Eco Air’ – an eco-friendly car powered by air. The team entered the concept into Solutions for the Planet’s Big Ideas Competition in March 2020. When the schools closed, the Eco Air project continued despite lockdown, first succeeding in the regional final. When Harriet’s teammate left the school, she continued to work on Eco Air alone, flying solo while presenting at the Big Ideas Competition 2020 national final. Following the presentation, John enlisted the help of Harriet’s mum Rebecca to present the youngster with the London Showcase’s Young Presenter of the Year Award.

Following this, the stage was set for each presenter to give their five-minute presentations.

The first of the previous contenders to return to the Lions’ Lair was Wez Little, Commercial Director at ControlPoint. He presented Bluebox, an innovation that eliminates leaks on polyethylene networks, providing an Artificial Intelligence safety net. 

Next up was Simon Macdonald, Business Development Director for Kobus Services, who presented the Kobus Pipe Puller, a device designed to minimise the risk of damaging surrounding utilities during service pipe replacement. 

He was followed by Gary Dwyer, UK Gas Manager at Radius Systems, who presented the Anaconda Top Tee with its amazing flexibility and ability to negotiate changes in direction from the main to the service pipe.

Next up was Mark Tindley, Managing Director of Synthotech, whose Star TORS presentation provided an update on how TORS, while currently not business as usual, had continued to be developed for use during the RIIO-2 price control period.

This was followed by Andy Hutchison, Technical Support Engineer at Steve Vick International, who presented the Enhanced Seal (Solutions for Stubs), a safe and costeffective method of replacing and fully abandoning T1 stubs/stranded assets Last up was James Hatt, Head of Operational Change at Morrison Utility Services. He presented the Virtual Trial-hole Assistant, which ultimately reduces the cost and overall environmental impact of excavation work while delivering better asset verification, less disruption, expedited works, plus concise job descriptions and communications.

All the Lions’ Lair presenters showed a fantastic range of innovative solutions for problems faced by the utility industry, proving once again that innovation is our future and passion.

While the Lions deliberated, Jason Wilson, Chair of the Pipeline Industries Guild, introduced John Morea once more to give the keynote presentation.

John’s speech, entitled ‘Innovating for the Future’ talked about the vital role our industry will play in Britain’s net zero future. He also explained more about the world-first H100 project in Fife, which will see the first homes heated by 100 per cent green hydrogen.

Decarbonisation is the biggest challenge to face our industry in its 200-year history, said John. But with the challenge comes opportunity and it is an incredibly exciting time to be part of our industry.

Gosia Szypulska, Chair of the Pipeline Industries Guild’s south eastern branch, took questions from the floor and thanked John for his excellent and thought-provoking presentation.

It was now time for the highlight of the evening – finding out who would be crowned the Champion of Champions. Andy Hutchison claimed the title for Steve Vick International and its Enhanced Seal.

Gosia thanked everyone for taking part, plus all the organisers and of course everyone who joined the event.

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