Belfast Telegraph

Queen celebrates UK entrepreneurs

Success stories from the UK's legion of entrepreneurs celebrated their achievements with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh during a reception at Buckingham Palace tonight.

Companies bestowed with a Queen's Award for Business included those coming from the humblest beginnings to turn over seven-figure profits and employ thousands of staff internationally.

Every region of the UK was represented at the event, held in the White Drawing Room and Blue Drawing Room, where 350 people were invited to toast industries - ranging from thermometers and energy to fashion and beetroot.

In total, 162 businesses were celebrated.

Graham Forber, of sustainable beetroot producer G's Fresh Beetroot in Cambridgeshire, whose company won an innovation award, said the Queen took particular interest in the firm's attitudes to healthy eating.

He said: "There is a new generation of the royal family she has to consider now, so healthy eating is obviously something she is interested in.

"I'm not sure if she is a beetroot fan, but I know she has quite an input into what is served from the kitchen and we spotted some beetroot in the canapes tonight so I will take that as a seal of approval."

It wasn't the only foodstuff brought up in conversation with royalty.

Campbell Shirlaw, of international trade award winners for Scotland Loch Fyne Oysters of Argyll and Bute, said: "The Queen was very polite and asked about how trade was going.

"She is very interested in the industry and said she is partial to our oysters herself - it was great to hear and quite an endorsement."

Lucy Jewson, managing director of Cornish company Frugi - an international trade winner for its ethical children's clothing - said: "We started this business by remortgaging our house and quitting our jobs.

"For a little company in Helston, Cornwall, to come here to the Palace is just fantastic. It shows what can be achieved."

Shaun Pulfrey, chief executive of London-based Tangle Teezer, said his firm's international trade award for its detangling hair brushes was recognition for how businesses such as his have grown.

He said: "We have sold 10 million products across the world and are branching out all the time.

"This is our second award, but we are just one of the many UK companies who have achieved big things from small beginnings."

Yvonne Gibbons, director of Cheshire based Edina UK - given an innovation award for its development in the renewables sector - said: "We have headquarters in Dublin and manufacturing plant in Belfast and obviously a strong presence in north west England so we are an example of a company employing people across Britain and Ireland.

"These awards are just the inspiration and recognition businesses like ours love."

A total of 18 businesses celebrated tonight have fewer than ten staff, while others had grown over the years to boast thousands of employees internationally.

The awards included 110 for international trade, 39 for innovation, and 13 for sustainable development, while eight individuals were also singled out for their contribution to UK industry.

Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the awards.

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