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The John Gordon Safety Person Of The Year Award 2023

Sponsored by Safety Advice Centre

Everyone has an important role to play in relation to health and safety in their company or organisation.

The Northern Ireland Safety Group recognises the important contributions that many individuals make towards safety, health, wellbeing and incident prevention.

The John Gordon ‘Safety Person of the Year’ Award is designed to celebrate the individual who has made the greatest contribution to health and safety in their workplace in the last year.



Showcasing the Recent Celebrations for the NISG John Gordon 2023 Award winners at the NISG 70th Anniversary Gala Dinner

The 10th Annual NISG John Gordon Award winners for 2023 were announced and presented at our recent 70th Anniversary Gala Dinner in La Mon Hotel, Belfast on the 9th of November. This was a milestone year, as the awards were launched at the NISG 60th Anniversary Dinner, as a surprise to John, who was with us for the celebrations.

John Gordon was a stalwart of the NISG Executive Committee and the go-to man when seeking advice on the organisation’s Constitution. He was involved with the group almost from inception until shortly before his passing in 2015 and was the epitome of what “a great advocate of health and safety” is considered to be.

Sponsored by Safety Advice Centre, Bangor, the John Gordon Safety Person of the Year Award is designed to celebrate the individual regardless of their position within a company, who has made the greatest contribution to health and safety in the workplace.

The winner(s) will always be the ‘unsung hero’ and a person who does this, not because it is their role, but because they believe everyone has a right to arrive home from work safe and unharmed.

This year the Awards Sub-committee were delighted to present two worthy winners with awards for 2023 from Heron Brothers and Adman Civil Projects Ltd.

The Heron Brothers winner - Diarmuid Mullan is a Construction Site Manager.

L-R Diarmuid Mullan with Bill McAllister (Safety Advice Centre – Award Sponsor)

Diarmuid’s recent initiative is “Farmers Friends”, an initiative highlighting how people with construction H&S skills can influence construction work on farms. He says, “I first developed this initiative over the Christmas holidays, having more time to help on my family's farm and thinking on HSE stats on how health and safety in construction has improved but it hasn’t in farming, I started to question can construction mind-set and lessons learnt improve Farm Safety”.

While hoping to encourage young farmers to utilise their “traditional jack-of-all-trades” skill set to more specific skills within construction and in doing so help to narrow the skills gap within the industry. Diarmuid firstly delivered his training to the part time farmers in Heron Bros and then extended it to local Young Farmers Clubs.  He says, “This has a double benefit, as the initiative allows me to combine two passions, farming and construction.”  The scheme is still in development and has gained support from HSENI, who recognise that construction safety on farms is under-represented in their Farm Safe Campaigns. They have given the scheme a steer on which topics to concentrate on.

As a student Diarmuid also learnt that “Kinesthetic” learning means to learn from actively engaging or physically doing a task and he believes that it is generally overlooked in modern education. He has now developed a hazardous materials recognition system by putting hazardous items, e.g. pieces of asbestos, into resin blocks, allowing people to examine them closely without risk. He is working on invasive species versions including Japanese's Knotweed and Himalayan Bam”, which can cause considerable damage within the construction industry.

Diarmuid’s ongoing work shows how dedicated he is to improving health and safety knowledge and create a culture of learning, for both construction employees and farmers. He engages in a user-friendly manner which will encourage discussion and interaction between the two sectors, which overlap, with many construction workers managing farms as well.

The Adman winner, Matthew McMahon - is a Higher-Level Apprentice (HLA) Student Engineer, who at the age of 20 years was able to identify a personal crisis, affecting a colleague and ensured that immediate support was offered by himself and the Adman team, from the site he was working on. This showed a great degree of maturity on Matthew’s part and his support extended far beyond the initial involvement.

L-R Matthew McMahon with Bill McAllister (Safety Advice Centre – Award Sponsor)

Matthew's actions emphasise the significance of how as a society, we must proactively recognise the importance of well-being and mental health challenges and this is inclusive of creating a supportive workplace environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their struggles and seeking help when needed.

Matthews listening ear and supportive actions to a work colleague reverberate him as an inspiring model for his peers, highlighting the potential for individuals to make a meaningful difference regardless of age or position, and has heighted team cohesion, where his leadership actions have spurred open conversations and nurtured empathy among team members. 

The company has been actively developing Well-Being and Mental Health training/support skills/resources, particularly at their Wind Farm sites, which can be remote and on occasions may have more challenging working conditions due to the nature of their location and spread of the site. Both the company and his colleagues feel that Matthew’s empathy and actions have demonstrated that he embodies the core principles held up by the company, fostering an environment where individuals feel safe, supported, and heard, which greatly contribute to living the organisation's ethos of care and camaraderie. Matthew is now a fundraiser for health and well-being charities, reflecting his selfless spirit and underscoring his exceptional character.

Well done to both winners and we also wish to thank the nominees from both organisations for entering Dairmuid and Matthew for the John Gordon Award – without these nominees taking the time to complete the application form, they would not have received this well-deserved recognition.

Listen to previous winner Lisa Haycock talk about her role in Farrans and how it contributed to her winning the award in 2020.

What We Are Looking For

The spirit of the Award is to honour the individual who goes above and beyond their role in the pursuit of good health and safety, therefore anyone can be nominated!

There are no restrictions on who can win. Applications for all individuals will be treated in exactly the same way, including managers (however senior) who have gone the extra mile and demonstrated superior safety leadership.

Nominations are particularly welcomed from those who do not work directly in a health and safety role and who do not have a health and safety qualification higher than a NEBOSH Certificate or its equivalent.


FINAL DATE FOR SUBMISSIONS - Friday 29th September 2023.

Award Winner Notification October 2023

Award Presentation - Thursday 9th November, 2023 at NISG 70th Anniversary Gala Dinner at La Mon Hotel, Belfast (Evening Gala Dinner and Awards Presentation).

Entry Process

Designed not to take you more than 1 hour to complete the 3 documents below will take you through the process.

  • Download the entry guidelines below.
  • Download the entry form below.
  • Download the Q & A fact sheet below.

Please read the guidelines before submitting an entry.

For further information contact NISG Joint Secretary Nicola McCracken:-

Mob: 07966 019575
Email: admin@nisg.org.uk


We would like to thank Bill McAllister from

Who sponsors the Award on a yearly basis.


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