Derek Walder, operations manager of SALTEX (Sports, Amenities, Landscaping Trade Exhibition), has been presented with the Unsung Hero Award by the Association of Events Organisers (AEO) at its annual Excellence Awards.
The AEO awards showcase the UK events industry’s achievements over the past year, celebrating standards of excellence as well as acknowledging the actions of show organisers.
Derek, 75, has fulfilled the role of SALTEX operations manager for almost 40 years, working on a voluntary basis and taking responsibility for all operational matters at the annual event. While onsite, each year Derek (‘Mr SALTEX’) co-ordinates more than 20 different contractors and manages a team of 12 staff and volunteers.
His dedication to the success of the event – which last year saw 261 exhibitors attract 8,585 visitors to Windsor Racecourse – is such that for over 20 days he sleeps in temporary accommodation onsite to ensure he is the first to arrive and the last to leave, from well before exhibitor build-up until the final day of break-down.
Commenting on the accolade, Derek says: “Being recognised by my peers in front of an audience of 2,000 UK event specialists was a very surprising but welcome ‘pat on the back’.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure to work on SALTEX over the years. The show has continued to evolve to reflect the changes in the industry it serves, and I’d like to think that my role as operations manager has likewise reflected the developing needs of exhibitors.”