Newport’s contact centre heroes were front and centre at the 23rd annual Welsh Contact Centre Awards ceremony held at Cardiff Bay’s Coal Exchange, as the industry reunited to celebrate their achievements over the past year.

More than 350 guests saw gold and silver winners presented in 21 categories, with Lloyds Banking Group in Newport picking up a silver award for Best Covid Strategy.

Lloyds Banking Group’s Georgette Loring was also crowned the Advisor of the Year.

Shared Services Connected Limited in Newport was declared Shared Service Centre of the Year and The Office for National Statistics took silver for Small Contact Centre of the Year.

Caerphilly-based not-for-profit, United Welsh, was recognised as the Best Public Sector Helpline.

Judges chose John Hall, of PHS Group, (Caerphilly) and Crina Pentiuc, of Deloitte, as joint gold winners in the Support Person of the Year category.

With the support of headline sponsors Jomo People, the awards hosted by comedian, Russell Kane, honoured all who overcame pandemic adversities to dedicate themselves to providing a lifeline to businesses and individuals across the UK and beyond.

Organised by the Welsh Contact Centre Forum, this year’s awards went further than simply recognising an industry that contributes £650m annually to Wales’ economy and employs more than 32,000 people.

Managing director of the Welsh Contact Centre Forum Sandra Busby said contact centre teams had been at the heart of pandemic responses and the provision of essential services to millions of people across Wales, the UK, and the wider world.

In a message shared with the those attending the awards, Minister for Economy, Vaughan Gething, said: “On behalf of businesses and people across Wales, I want to thank every member of the Welsh contact centre industry for keeping services going at over the past 18 months. And the roles you are all play are as vital today as they were at the height of the Covid pandemic.

“The contact centre industry has been making a major contribution to Wales’ economy for over 20 years. The work of your 32,000 workforce is crucial to many Welsh industry sectors that rely on you to enable their own growth, and you continue to rise to those challenges. I applaud the collaborations that see companies and the Welsh Contact Centre Forum work together to ensure that the opportunities they create are available to everyone. Those collaborations includes the pioneering Welsh Graduate Programme, which I have recently referred to in the Senedd.

“As we look to the future, I am excited to see how the teams represented here today will lead other industries to embrace challenges and moves to new hybrid ways of working, while always ensuring the wellbeing of those around you.”