Belfast Telegraph

Travel boss awarded MBE puts success down to his deep passion to boost Northern Ireland

By Margaret Canning

A Northern Ireland travel boss awarded an MBE in the New Year's Honours List has said his commitment to helping the province is behind much of his business success.

Selective Travel Management boss Mukesh Sharma and west Belfast printing tycoon Terry Cross are among the Northern Ireland businesspeople to be recognised in the New Years Honours list.

Mr Sharma's firm is now one of Northern Ireland's biggest business travel specialists.

He said he felt "privileged" by the accolade. "It has been about helping Northern Ireland as much as the company.

"I have been in the industry for more than 30 years and have been able to grow the business in recent years, and create employment. I've also been able to push Northern Ireland as a place for airlines to come and set up new connections.

"It's been about Northern Ireland for me, as much as it's been about my company, as I have a passion for Northern Ireland and wanting it to grow."

He added that he saw "huge potential for travel and tourism" in the province.

"The more people who come here, the more it helps our economy. Every aircraft coming in here creates employment."

Mr Sharma said his ethos of helping Northern Ireland reflected the values of his father Braham, who came to Northern Ireland in the 1960s after emigrating to another part of the UK from India in the late 1950s.

"He always taught us that life was about responsibility for not just yourself, but for your environment."

Selective Travel now incorporates Thriftway, McNeill Rigby, Menary Travel and Corporate Travel after a series of acquisitions and mergers.

Delta Print and Packaging chairman Terry Cross received an OBE for services to the economy and voluntary service to the community in Northern Ireland.

He started out in printing in 1980 when he fitted the upstairs of his shop on the Cliftonville Road with some Gestetner printing machines.

The firm now employs 250 people making packaging for international companies like KFC, Kellogg's, Jacob's, Greiner and McDonald's.

Gilbert Tunney of GT Exhausts is honoured with an MBE for services to the motor industry and the community of Trillick in Co Tyrone and Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, where his nationwide business is based.

Professor Michael Andrew Henry Johnston, chief executive of the Dairy Council for Northern Ireland, has also been given an MBE for services to the dairy industry in Northern Ireland.

Carol Maria Phillips, head of human resources at planemaker Bombardier, also receives an MBE for services to industry in Northern Ireland.

UK-wide, the founder of Pets at Home and YO! Sushi's chief executive were also recognised in the Honours list. Anthony Preston, who launched animal care firm Pets at Home in 1991, receives a CBE for services to business, entrepreneurship and philanthropy.

YO! Sushi boss Robin Rowland is another from the business world in the New Year Honours list, receiving an OBE for his services to the restaurant and hospitality industry.

Belfast Telegraph