European Cleaning & Hygiene Awards 2017 winner - Avril Mc Carthy

3rd of April 2018
European Cleaning & Hygiene Awards 2017 winner - Avril Mc Carthy

Avril McCarthy from Derrycourt received the award for the Greatest Individual Contribution to Driving up Standards at the European Cleaning and Hygiene Awards 2017 - organised by ECJ - in Rome. Ann Laffeaty discovers what made her stand out from the crowd.

The cleaning sector is nothing without its people. And in such a labour-intensive industry it is the very best of those people – the most outstanding cleaners, managers and company ceo’s - who
push the boundaries and consistently drive up standards.

The unsung heroes of cleaning are often those who provide the client interface –the coordinators and managers who are seen by the client around their building every day. These are the people responsible for ensuring that all specification conditions are met and that high standards are consistently maintained.

This is what we were seeking when we put up our Greatest Individual Contribution to Driving up Standards within a Cleaning Operation award. We asked for nominations from people working alongside contenders, either from the client side or from within their own organisations.

The 2017 winner was Avril McCarthy, general manager of family concern Derrycourt Cleaning Specialists based in Dublin, Ireland. She was nominated by the company’s sales and marketing manager Susan Spillane.

Spillane joined Derrycourt as Avril’s assistant in 2009 and since then has held several roles, working alongside McCarthy at all times. She now occupies the post of sales and marketing manager.

“Avril has built on the foundations of the company laid out by her parents and inspired all those who have worked alongside her,” said Spillane. “She has created a corporate entity and a force to be reckoned with within the contract cleaning arena.”

Derrycourt Cleaning Specialists was established in 1992 by McCarthy’s parents managing director Ann O’Hanlon and director Martin O’Hanlon, each of whom have more than 32 years’ experience in the cleaning sector. With their combined knowledge the couple has built a strong and reputable company which has earned its position as an industry leader.

McCarthy is very much involved with all delivery aspects of contracts at the company’s 600-plus client sites and she oversees all departments. Spillane praises her hands-on management style, her ability to readdress goals where required and her aptitude for driving change.

“No two days are alike for Avril because she manages both the company’s head office function and its client engagement,” says Spillane. “She regularly multi tasks and keeps a cool and level head as she does so. In my opinion it is Avril’s ability to adapt and quickly respond to any situation that makes her stand out.”

McCarthy was delighted that her colleague singled her out for recognition. “However, I was also surprised - and slightly embarrassed – to be nominated.

“Throughout the years I have worked hard to improve in everything I do, both personally and professionally.  I have been told by my colleagues that I demand high standards from them, but I demand even higher standards from myself.”

Among her key achievements at Derrycourt she cites a 10-fold increase in turnover plus several high-profile contracts. “Since I started in 2000 we have grown our workforce and created an organisational structure that supports all clients and staff,” she said.

“We invest heavily in training and we use best-in-class facilities and methodologies which has paid huge dividends to our organisation.

“Quality is at the forefront of every action we undertake in the company.  We have a clear strategy plus regularly-reviewed objectives which provide us all with a common goal.”

Derrycourt has achieved numerous awards over the years. The firm claims to have been the first Irish contract cleaning company to win a Golden Service Award on three consecutive years. It also won a second European Cleaning and Hygiene Award at the 2017 event for Excellence in Client Contractor Partnership.

McCarthy herself is an approved BICSc assessor and has held the posts of chairperson and vice-chairperson of the Irish Contract Cleaning Association.

She is very proud of what she has achieved so far.  “My future plans for the company are to focus on quality while integrating new IT systems into the business and continuing to innovate on behalf of our clients,” she said. “This will ensure that we provide an excellent service and stay ahead with educational and training advancements so that we can develop our staff to their fullest potential.”

The European Cleaning & Hygiene Awards 2018 will be held in Berlin on November 15 and are now open for entry. Visit


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