British Woodworking Federation announces Helen Hewitt as new chief executive

Iain McIlwee is to stand down as chief executive of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) after almost seven years and Helen Hewitt has been appointed as acting CEO with immediate effect.

Hewitt joined the BWF as membership director and wood window alliance lead in November 2017 and has already made a significant impact in many areas of the business especially, in helping to improve processes and engagement with members as well as supporting the build it better with wood values of the organisation.

She said: “I am absolutely delighted and honoured to be given the opportunity to spearhead the BWF through this next phase. I am looking forward to working closely with our members, the council and executive in developing the strategy which will build on the new Build it Better with Wood campaign; launched at our most successful members day yet. With wood delivering on so many levels and the sector boasting craftspeople and engineers of the highest calibre, the proliferation of wood in the built environment presents exciting opportunities for the construction sector. I have been truly humbled by the passion and pride the industry has for the products it produces and the people it employs.”

McIlwee will continue to work alongside Hewitt at the BWF until the end of September, when he leaves to take up a new role as chief executive of FIS, Finishes & Interiors Sectors Limited, the trade body which represents the fit-out sector.

BWF president Sean Parnaby said: “Over the last seven years Iain has contributed hugely to the BWF’s step change in profile and activity and helped to ensure we genuinely are one of the outstanding performing trade associations in the UK. He leaves with our gratitude and blessing and we look forward to working with him in his new role.

“We are delighted to have Helen on board, she has a strong track record in developing training and membership organisations in the materials supply chain and her commercial experience will help in directing the BWF through the next period as it naturally evolves. This is an exciting time for the BWF as we promote the UK’s exceptional woodworking skills and the many benefits of building with wood, and we are looking forward to the future.”

McIlwee (pictured below) added: “It has genuinely been a privilege to work in the woodworking sector, to represent the BWF membership and lead what is an inspirational, enthusiastic and talented team. Having worked closely with Helen I am confident that the BWF is not just in a safe pair of hands, but that the organisation will have a progressive, astute, strong and enthusiastic individual at the helm who understands and respects the values that unite our membership and industry. These are, without doubt, exciting times for timber and the BWF and I will continue to evangelise about the fantastic sustainable, healthy, effective and often stunning solutions that timber delivers and the importance of the craft at the heart of our manufacturing sector that is the woodworking industry.”

The trade association for the woodworking and joinery manufacturing industry in the UK, the BWF provides a voice for the sector in the UK and influences the development of policy, regulations and standards.

The BWF’s Build it Better with Wood campaign is designed to make wood the construction material of choice by celebrating its many benefits in the built environment and promoting the vast range of woodworking and joinery expertise available in the UK.



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