Belfast Telegraph

New Year's honours for business community

By Clare Weir

The founder of Hughes Insurance is among Northern Ireland business figures to pick up gongs in the New Year Honours List.

Leslie Hughes, who set up Hughes Insurance in 1977 at a time when many UK-based insurance companies considered that Northern Ireland was a 'no go' zone, has been given an OBE.

The company, which has one of the largest market shares in the region, was acquired by global insurance giant Liberty Mutual in June.

Major insurance providers, taking Mr Hughes' lead, entered Northern Ireland.

When other UK-based insurance providers outsourced their telesales, Mr Hughes consolidated his in Newtownards - privately investing £1.5m in doubling the footprint of the company's headquarters.

He was rewarded for his services to the insurance industry and to the community within Newtownards.

Nigel Dunlop has been awarded a CBE for his services to business and the economy.

The former chief executive of Moy Park Europe, Mr Dunlop led the reorganisation and restructuring of the company into one of the world's largest poultry processors, employing more than 5,000 people in Northern Ireland alone.

He is also a former captain in the Gurkhas.

Another leading light in the meat trade, Henry Tweedie, received an OBE for services to the red meat industry.

It is estimated that around 2,350 people in six countries are employed by companies he helped to establish, including Hilton Meats and Lagan Meats.

Another OBE went to Roisin Goodwin, research and development budget and compliance manager with Invest NI, for services to research and development.

Through her foresight, Invest NI was able to deliver record levels of grant assistance to Northern Ireland firms, using £100m funding to achieve a total R&D investment of £399m in just five years.

Wilma Erskine-Heggarty, club secretary and manager at Royal Portrush Golf Club, received a British Empire Medal for services to Northern Ireland tourism and to golf.

She was instrumental in securing the Irish Open 2012 event and organised the Ladies' British Open Amateur competition and the Senior British Open.

Meanwhile, two of Britain's best-known entrepreneurs have also picked up accolades.

James Caan, the former Dragons' Den investor, and founder Brent Hoberman will receive OBEs.

Pakistan-born Mr Caan, who changed his name from Nazim Khan as a teenager, left school at the age of 16 with no qualifications but his business empire is now said to be worth £7m.

Mr Hoberman is best known for founding travel website, together with Martha Lane-Fox, when both were in their 20s nearly 17 years ago. The business was valued at £800m when it floated in 2000.

Belfast Telegraph