Shining stars of north-east HR celebrated at star-studded ceremony in Aberdeen

Top cherry Sean Saluja
Top cherry Sean Saluja

The best of the north-east’s human resources (HR) professionals and practices were celebrated at the 10th annual cHeRries Awards last night.

More than 440 people attended the prestigious ceremony at Aberdeen Exhibition and Concert Centre.

Eight awards and a commendation were handed out – recognising specialists in the fields of human resources, training and recruitment in the region.

The biggest prize of the night – the Top Cherry for outstanding contribution, sponsored by Mattioli Woods – went to Sean Saluja.

Mr Saluja is a partner and the head of the employment division at law firm Burness Paull.

He has more than 20 years’ experience in dealing with all aspects of employment law and has been recognised by Chambers UK, which publishes an annual guide to Britain’s top lawyers, as a leader in his field.


Catering firm Entier lifted the gong for exemplary employer of the year, sponsored by law firm CMS.

Emily Duffield of North Sea firm Taqa Bratani won the blossoming award, sponsored by Aberdeen Business School at Robert Gordon University.

The fantastic HR advisor award, sponsored by offshore services firm Peterson, was presented to Peter Matthews from Aberdeenshire Council’s online learning and development team.

Hazel Cheung was highly commended in the category.

Helen Strachan of Wood Group won the extraordinary HR initiative accolade and Ruth Cameron of Amec Foster Wheeler came away with the excellent HR manager award, sponsored by Aberdeen-based payroll management specialist activpayroll.

Tony Christie on stage
Tony Christie on stage

Ruth Harris of Petrofac was highly commended in this category.

The organisational development team at Dundee and Angus College lifted the tremendous training and development award.

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The gong for outstanding HR director, sponsored by engineering and project management giant Amec Foster Wheeler, was won by Annie Ingram of NHS Grampian.

The star-studded awards ceremony – organised by Scottish media giant DC Thomson, owner of Aberdeen Journals and newspaper titles including the Press and Journal – was hosted by comedian Fred MacAuley.

Entertainment was provided by legendary singer Tony Christie, saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski and cover band Fifth Avenue.

Damian Bates, editor-in-chief, Aberdeen Journals, said: “The cHeRies Awards are the perfect opportunity to celebrate the efforts of some of the finest people working hard to restore the north-east’s economic fortunes following a severe downturn.

“The success of businesses across the region is and always has been rooted in the people they employ, and HR professionals are at the very heart of that.

“Tonight’s winners have all shown outstanding performance as firms throughout the north-east adapt to a new trading environment amid great political and economic uncertainty.

“Aberdeen Journals has been involved with the cHeRries Awards for many years now and it really is a wonderful platform for showcasing success.”