STAFF at a factory have beaten others from around the world to win an award for dealing with environmental health and safety.

A glass sculpture and £3,000 were presented to workers at the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) pharmaceutical plant at Barnard Castle, County Durham.

They immediately handed the money to the Great North Air Ambulance service to help it carry on its rescue missions.

The factory, which employs 1,100 people, earned the award after its efforts were judged against those of 34 GSK plants in 26 countries.

Jim Hagan, a US vice-president of the company, travelled to Barnard Castle to hand the prize to site director Paul Londesborough.

Mr Hagan said it was an outstanding achievement by the staff, who have won other awards for the past three years. He presented lapel pins to 14 workers closely involved in the victory.

Company lawyer Rupert Bondy, who was visiting the factory for the first time, said the achievement was excellent for the firm's global reputation.

Russell Collins, the environmental health and safety operations manager at the factory, said health and safety was vital in a plant dealing with many hazardous chem- icals.

He said the award was won for continued excellence in health and safety.

The money was passed to two air ambulance officials, Dave Honeyman and Sue Cave, who said it would help them give a crucial service all over the North.

The factory is also giving its used printer cartridges to the air ambulance service.

It has raised £700 from them in the past six months.