The award recognises Harris’ diverse career in the trade, especially his efforts in building WSET to be the biggest organisation of its kind in the world, offering education and qualifications in the field of wines and spirits through more than 600 approved course providers across 66 countries.
Martin Green, editor at Off Licence News sister magazine to Drinks Intenational, runs the Drinks Retailing Awards. Pictured right with presenter Marcus Brigstock and Harris in the centre, said: "Ian Harris has driven remarkable growth at WSET in the UK and across the world since he joined in 2002 and his achievements in the field of wine and spirits education have been truly exceptional, making him a highly deserving winner of our Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a pioneer, a hardworking trailblazer and a great innovator.
"He joins an elite club of leading lights from the drinks industry that we have inducted into our Hall of Fame, and we feel it is a great honour to award him this accolade. He received a prolonged standing ovation when the award was presented, which was fantastic to see as it illustrated just how highly regarded he is in the industry. We are confident that Ian will go on to spur WSET to even greater heights in years to come."
On receiving the award Harris said: “It is a real thrill to win the Drinks Retailing Lifetime Achievement Award. However it belongs not just to me but to all the staff at WSET who through their hard work and support have enabled us to achieve so much during my time here. I may have been at the helm of WSET near 14 years yet in so many ways I feel that the best is yet to come!”
The awards have been running since 2002 and Harris joins Oz Clarke, Cliff Roberson, Steve Parfett, Dee Blackstock, Dave Smith, Alan Toft, Tim How, Paul Bastard, John Mitchell, Tony Laithwaite, Tony Mason, Alan Whittle, Julian Brind and Allan Cheesman in the OLN's hall of fame.
The March issue of Drinks International will carry a profile on Ian Harris