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MP Awards Team

Meet the Team

John Bussey

General Manager / Responsible/Accountable Officer

John is the General Manager of MP Awards. He is also the senior point of contact for the Regulatory Bodies and Responsible/Accountable Officer for Ofqual, SQA and Qualifications Wales.

John's career in the extractives industry began in 1984 at a large hard rock quarry operated by Steetley. He went on to spend a number of years there carrying out roles ranging from Operative through to Site Management and thus gained a broad understanding of all aspects of the operation, including Blasting and Maintenance.

In 2003 John joined the Learning & Development Department at Lafarge as an Assessor delivering MPQC card assessments and qualifications and quickly progressed to Team Manager, Internal Verifier and finally Lead Internal Verifier.

John joined MPQC as Qualifications Development Manager and now represents MP Awards at industry meetings. 

Contact John: john.bussey@mpawards.co.uk

Sarah Payne

Head of Qualifications and Compliance

Sarah joined MPQC in March 2016 as Qualifications Development Officer. Prior to this, she gained extensive knowledge and skills in developing qualifications across a range of sectors with an Awarding Organisation in London. Her previous roles include qualification development for a Professional Body, teaching English in Japan, and supporting learners with special educational needs in a mainstream secondary school. 

Contact Sarah: sarah.payne@mpawards.co.uk


Steve Bottomley

 Lead External Verifier/IEPA

Steve has worked on various extractives industries sites since 1985, starting his career with CEMEX where he worked for 25 years.  Steve has been an Assessor, Internal Verifier and Trainer for over 17 years, spending some of this time within the CEMEX Learning and Development team and the remainder working for different assessment Centres.  Steve has a broad range of experience within the sector covering quarries, concrete, cement, asphalt, building products and mines to name but a few.

Contact Steve: steve.bottomley@mpawards.co.uk 

Marie Reilly

External Verifier

A Qualified Nurse, Marie has more than 30 years experience in the Medical and Nursing profession and is responsible for the external verification of the First Aid suite of qualifications:

  • 15 years Hospital Ward-based Nursing
  • 8 years as a Practice Nurse
  • 9 years as a Residential Care Home Manager for elderly people including Learning Disabilities and
  • Mental Health issues
  • Extensive managerial and leadership skills including training and development of staff.

Marie can be contacted via our HQ on 0115 972 6121.

Darren Lycett

 External Verifier 

Darren started his career over thirty years ago, working for the surveying arm of a geotechnical drilling company. He then progressed to the plant side, where he gained invaluable experience and rose to Plant Supervisor. In 2005, Darren headed up a new training wing for Plant Operators, delivering training and instruction in association with many major accredited bodies. Darren is NEBOSH, IOSH and External Verifier qualified.

Contact Darren: darren.lycett@mpawards.co.uk

Ruth Swaby


Ruth worked for over 20 years as an Administrator/Personal Assistant for a National Training Provider, prior to joining MPQC Awarding Organisation. She is very familiar with the world of Vocational Qualifications and manages all of the administration for Centre approvals, registrations, certification and management information.

Contact Ruth: ruth.swaby@mpawards.co.uk

Patrick Bowles 

Industry Schemes Manager

Pat started his career in the extractive industry with Tilcon in 1984 and has completed a variety of training and related courses to support his career. He has over thirty years experience in various operations within the extractive industry and has had hands on experience managing asphalt, sand and gravel, hard rock and blasting operations. Pat joined MPQC in January 2016 as Assistant Industry Schemes Manager and was quickly promoted to Industry Schemes Manager when his predecessor left for pastures new. Pat spends much of his time working closely with the MP Awards team to improve standards and to develop the Industry Schemes.

Contact Pat: patrick.bowles@mpawards.co.uk

Deane Spiers

Assistant Industry Schemes Manager

Deane joined the Industry Schemes team in February 2017, but began his career at Bardon Hill Quarries (Aggregate Industries) over 25 years ago. His experience encompasses drilling, blasting, all processing operations, asphalt plants, rail loading and many other duties. He has also spent many hours operating all types of mobile plant and is a qualified trainer/instructor/assessor for mobile plant and static plants.

Earlier on in his career Deane was fortunate enough to move to both the north & south islands of New Zealand where he worked on a number of large construction sites carrying out activities such as road/bridge building, installation of water treatment plants and installation of all types of electrical projects overhead/underground services.

Deane was also working on one of the largest infrastructure re-builds in the southern hemisphere when Christchurch was hit with many earthquakes back in 2011-2014, devastating the Canterbury area.

Contact Deane: deane.spiers@mpawards.co.uk

Zoe Durbacz

Technical Administrator

Zoe joined MP Awards as a Technical Administrator and assists the Industry Schemes team with the MPQC/SPA Contractor Safety Passport and Accreditation Schemes. Zoe has a wealth of extensive administration experience and is a real asset to the team.

Contact Zoe: zoe.starbuck@mpawards.co.uk


Laura Woodcock

Technical Administrator

Laura has joined MP Awards to cover Zoe while she is on maternity leave. Laura will be covering tasks such as quality assurance with registrations/certification paperwork, handling enquiries from training providers, and printing of certificates and cards in line with contracts.

Contact Zoe: Laura.Woodcock@mpawards.co.uk


Lucy Preston

Schemes Administrator

Lucy joined MP Awards as a Business Administration Apprentice in February 2018. Having achieved her apprenticeship in March 2019, she is now a full time member of the team. Lucy previously studied photography at a local college, but quickly discovered that she was more suited to an administrative career. At this point Lucy moved on from college and spent 4 months working for Robin Hood Energy before enrolling on her apprenticeship and joining MP Awards. Lucy now supports the MPQC Industry Schemes Manager and Assistant Manager in an administration role for the Plant Scheme and Blasting Scheme.

Contact Lucy:  lucy.preston@mpawards.co.uk


Edita King

Qualifications and Compliance Support Officer

Edita has previously worked within the Public Sector where quality, compliance, audit and monitoring of services were her key responsibilities. Edita is Prince 2 qualified and has worked on a number of delivery and business transformation projects.

Her role is to assist with the development, review and maintenance of MP Awards’ qualifications, policies, procedures, systems, services and materials to ensure full compliance with all Regulatory Bodies requirements. 

Contact Edita: edita.king@mpawards.co.uk


Gary Milnes

Independent End Point Assessor and Trainee External Verifier

Gary joined MP Awards having previously worked for Wienerberger UK as their Environmental Health and Safety Training Manager. During his time there, Gary was involved with looking after and reviewing the mobile plant training, as well as its operational competency scheme. Before his time at Wienerberger, Gary spent 23 years with Lafarge/ CRH and another 10 years before that, with RMC. 

His role will see him conducting the end point assessments for apprentices undertaking the level 2  Mineral Processing Mobile & Static Plant Operator qualification as well as being an external verifier.

Contact Gary: gary.milnes@mpawards.co.uk


Konnie Dawes

EPA & VQ Assistant Administrator 

Konnie has joined the MP Awards team as the End Point Assessment & Vocational Qualifications Assistant Administrator.

Her previous role was with the Dyslexia Association as a Bookings Administrator and was responsible for managing requests for dyslexia screening-assessments.

In her new role, Konnie will be supporting the EPA process carrying out the administration of the MP Awards End Point Assessments and will also be assisting with the admin of the Vocational Qualifications.

Contact Konnie: konnie.dawes@mpawards.co.uk