You might be a little surprised to find me writing the foreword to this awards supplement. But there are a lot of parallels between sailing and the construction industry.

First, may I explain how similar our outlooks to safety are? On all the boats I have sailed on we take safety really seriously. It begins long before we set off – the boats are all designed to be as strong and safe as possible. Then we rigorously test all the gear and equipment to ensure it can take the tough conditions and severe weather the boat will face at sea. We also look at and prepare for all the most likely scenarios we might face that might put myself or the boat in danger – from a capsize or a dismasting to a problem that requires me to climb the mast. And, of course, before anything hazardous is undertaken, I talk it through with my back-up team to minimise the risk as much as possible.

I understand that nowadays the construction industry has a similar philosophy in that more effort goes into designing-out potential hazards; materials are rigorously tested and there is a culture of training and learning from each other to ensure that sites are increasingly safe. I commend this approach and urge you to continue with your efforts to make the industry a safer and healthier place to work.

Congratulations to all the companies and individuals who made the shortlists. Of course there can only be one winner in each category, but all of you deserve praise and support for the sterling work you have done to make construction much safer.

Finally many thanks in advance for your generosity in the charity casino. The charity being supported is the Ellen MacArthur Trust, which was set up in January 2003 to support, empower and enliven children suffering from cancer or leukaemia by introducing them to the joys of sailing on the sea. Meeting the challenge of sailing at sea, the children gain confidence and are reminded that there is life beyond their illness. At the same time they meet friends suffering from the same disease, which reminds them they are not alone in their struggle.

Dame Ellen MacArthur, Skipper, B&Q Trimaran