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IET Awards - Mensforth Manufacturing Gold Medal

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Mensforth Manufacturing Gold Medal


The Mensforth Manufacturing Gold Medal is awarded to candidates who have made major and distinguished contributions in the manufacturing sector.

The highest recognition the IET can give in this field, the Medal is awarded to a person making an outstanding contribution to the advancement of manufacturing engineering technology or manufacturing management.

The Medal is awarded without restriction regarding nationality, country of residence or membership of the IET. Recipients of the award are chosen by the IET Awards and Prizes Committee and are endorsed by the IET Knowledge Management Board. 

The winner of the Mensforth Manufacturing Gold Medal is invited to the IET Achievement Awards ceremony, which is held in November each year, to receive the Medal and certificate and to present the Viscount Nuffield/Mensforth lecture, which is held in March or April each year.  Background information on the Mensforth Manufacturing Gold Medal can be found in the Fact Sheet.

How to nominate 

Nominations can be made by clicking onto the online nomination form on the right hand side. We welcome nominations for women and men from around the world whose achievements have conferred great benefit on the UK and its people. You do not need to be an IET Member to make a nomination or be nominated.

Please note only one nomination is required per candidate and self-nominations will not be accepted.


Previous Winners



Image of Tom Williams CBE  

The Medal was awarded to Tom Williams CBE, Chief Operating Officer at Airbus. Having started work as an engineering apprentice, Mr Williams has worked across a range of high profile manufacturing industries. He is responsible for overall operations of Airbus, one of the world's largest manufacturing engineering companies, building the huge A380 and the new generation A350XWB with its advanced carbon fibre construction. His in-depth understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by the industry helps him fulfil his commitment to invest in manufacturing. He is a trusted figurehead for this generation of engineers and an inspiration for the next.

Mr Williams was presented with his Medal at the 2016 IET Achievement Awards Ceremony on 16 November 2016 in London



Image of Gavin Campbell

The Medal was awarded to Gavin Campbell BSc CEng FIMechE FIAE, Director, Design Engineering and Technology Development at Bombardier Aerospace, Belfast. Mr Campbell leads Bombardier's Belfast 500-strong aerospace design and manufacturing technology team.  His  materials and manufacturing process achievements, as well as his leadership, have been critical to Bombardier Belfast becoming a thriving world-class aircraft manufacturing operation.

Mr Campbell was presented with his Medal at the 2014 IET Achievement Awards Ceremony on 19 November 2014 in London.



Nigel Whitehead photo  

The Medal was awarded to Mr Nigel Whitehead FREng FRAeS, BAE Systems Group Managing Director of Programmes & Support, UK. Nigel Whitehead is responsible for some of the UK’s largest engineering, manufacturing and support services projects. 

Mr Whitehead was presented with his Medal at the 2014 Viscount Nuffield / Mensforth Lecture on 27 March 2014 at the University of Strathclyde.



Ralf Speth photo   The Medal was awarded to Dr Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, for his success in turning the company round within a few years.

Dr Speth was presented with his Medal at the 2012 Viscount Nuffield / Mensforth Lecture on 15 March 2012 at the University of Warwick.


IET Archives Biography of Sir Eric Mensforth

Sir Eric Mensforth was a leader of the engineering industry and a pioneer in the development of the helicopter in Britain.

Education and early employment

  Head and shoulders portrait of Sir Eric Mensforth.

Born 17 May 1906 in Stretford, Manchester, Eric was the second son of Sir Holberry Mensforth. He was educated at Altrincham county high school, University College School, London and King’s College, Cambridge, where he read mechanical sciences. He went on to join the engineering section of the Woolwich Arsenal, then served his apprenticeship with Mather & Platt, before embarking on international engineering experience with Klocknernak BG in Germany. He returned to join English Electric where he established the domestic appliance division in 1931.

In the mid 1930s Mensforth became a board member of the John Brown & Co Ltd, the shipbuilding company. As the company was looking to expand into the aircraft industry, Mensforth recommended Westland Aircraft, a small company in Yeovil, Somerset, which had been established as an offshoot of a local oil company, Petters. 

 By 1938 John Brown and Co. had taken over the company and with Mensforth as its first managing director, Westland Aircraft became the foremost manufacturer of spitfires.


Development of the helicopter

Mensforth’s career developed further in 1943 when he became production advisor to Sir Stafford Cripps of the Ministry of Aircraft Production. It was in this capacity he travelled to America and became acquainted with Igor Sikorsky, a Russian-born designer who had worked extensively on helicopter technology in the 1930s.

In 1946, Sikorsky agreed to grant Mensforth a licence to build designs owned by his American company, Bell & Sikorsky. This resulted in production of the Dragonfly - chosen for the Royal Navy's first helicopter squadron, formed in 1950 - followed by Whirlwind, Wessex and Sea King, the latter with full anti-submarine warfare capacity.

The British Government had initially been reluctant to buy helicopters of American design, but Westland's proved themselves more effective than those of rival firms built to British designs and eventually, Westland became the only substantial British maker of military helicopters. From 1945 to 1995, ten different major helicopters were built in Britain along the lines established between Sikorsky and Westland.

Although in the post-war years Mensforth moved on from Westland to manage another arm of the John Brown and Co. group, T. Firth and John Brown Ltd., in Sheffield, he continued to stay connected to Westland. He served as Chairman from 1953 to 1968, and as President from 1979 to 1985, when he retired at the age of 76.

Positions held

Mensforth was the chairman of the Economic Development Council and of the Council of Engineering Institutions. He was also President of the Institution of Production Engineers, and a founder of the Fellowship of Engineering, which in due course became the Royal Academy of Engineering. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1951.

During his years in Sheffield Mensforth was heavily involved with the local business community. He was Deputy Lieutenant of South Yorkshire and Master Cutler from 1965-1966. In 1969 he was the chairman of governors for Sheffield Polytechnic, now Sheffield Hallam University, and their library is named after him. He was appointed CBE in 1945 and knighted in 1962.

His publications include Air Frame Production (1947) and the Cantor Lectures: Future of the Aeroplane (1959).

He married Betty Francis in 1934, and had three daughters. He died in 2000, at the age of 93.

Key dates


Nominations close on 18 May 2018, 17:00 (BST).


IET Achievement Awards:
14 November 2018, 13:00 (GMT)

Submit an online nomination

2018 online submission form


Related links

Candidate criteria guidance (PDF)



IET Achievement Medals leaflet (PDF)

Mensforth Manufacturing Gold Medal fact sheet (PDF)