Press release

Recording-breaking celebration for Co-operative of the Year Awards

Two new awards, a record number of votes and six winners – the Co-operative of the Year Awards 2019 have been another phenomenal celebration of the power of co-operation.

With more than 33,000 votes cast, the winners were awarded their prestigious prizes at a gala dinner at Co-op Congress – the sector’s annual conference, celebrating its landmark 150th year.

The Co-op Group, South Tyneside Council, Bristol Wood Recycling Project and The Schools' Energy Co-op all scooped prizes. Lorraine Power from Leeds Bread Co-op and Daily Bread Co-op founder Roger Sawtell were the winners in brand new categories that recognise individual contributions to the co-op movement.

Take a look at our photo gallery for some fabulous pictures from the Co-operative of the Year Awards 2019.

More than 33,000 votes were cast in the national awards, organised by Co-operatives UK and supported by The Co-operative Bank, with nominations and votes coming from large and small businesses, members, customers and co-operators across the sector.

Maria Cearns Managing Director, Current Accounts and Savings from sponsors The Co-operative Bank, said: 

“What a great evening celebrating the achievements of a number of co-op organisations over the last year. A huge well done to all the nominees – for doing valuable, essential work growing the UK’s co-operative economy and using the power of co-operation to enable businesses to flourish in a fair and equitable way. Congratulations to the winners who thoroughly deserved their awards.”

Bristol Wood Recycling Project took home the Breakthrough Co-op of the Year Award, open to co-ops with a turnover of under £1m. This not-for-profit community co-op recycles waste wood, making resources available to local residents. Its social inclusion and support for volunteers has been a positive success story for BWRP – a truly worthy winner. 

The Inspiring Co-op of the Year category – for co-ops with a turnover between £1m and £30 million – includes a hugely diverse range of thriving co-ops. This year’s winner was The School’s Energy Co-op. It’s their mission is to enable all schools to use solar energy and they’ve installed panels on 48 schools all over the country, from the south coast to the north east of England.

The Co-op Group scooped the Leading Co-op of the Year Award – for co-ops with a turnover of more than £30 million. Having launched its Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities ambition last year, The Co-op Group has grown significantly. As a result, members have shared over £60m of personal reward and have directly supported over 4,000 community projects.

The Co-operative Council of the Year Award went to South Tyneside Council. The council proactively supports and empowers local people to take positive action. It fosters local community pride via its #LoveSouthTyneside campaign, which celebrates initiatives that stem from a passion for the borough.

Lorraine Power from Leeds Bread Co-op was crowned Co-operator of the Year. HR expert Lorraine regularly goes above and beyond to help others learn and develop. She has been at the forefront of creating major changes in her co-op to help make working practices more efficient and free up more time for community-focused activities.

Roger Sawtell was announced as the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Over the years, Roger has founded many co-ops including ICOM which merged into Co-operatives UK, ICOF which is now Co-operative Finance, Daily Bread Co-op and Trylon. He still promotes co-operative ideals and has convinced many companies to convert to being co-ops.

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, said: “The Co-op of the Year Awards is always a special occasion. And once again, a raft of worthy winners have taken home their coveted prizes. They – and all our nominees – are an outstanding example of how working co-operatively creates opportunity and prosperity and grows the economy at both national and local level.” 

Along with the awards, the Breakthrough category winner will receive the option to access £1,000 worth of specialist business advice from The Hive, Co-operatives UK’s business support programme sponsored by the Co-operative Bank.

The Co-operative of the Year Awards are sponsored by the The Co-operative Bank.