Last Monday, Kat and I set off early on another Queen’s Awards UK tour. Making tracks across a sunny Wales this time we visited a wonderfully diverse selection of Queen’s Awards winners.
We’ve pulled together our thoughts from the trip for you...
Magstim Company Ltd
The first business kind enough to let us poke around their premises was Whitland-based The Magstim Company Limited, a business that won their Queen’s Award in the International Trade category back in 2011. The company gave us a warm welcome and it was great to find out from the MD, Robin Davies what effect winning a Queen’s Award has had on the business over the past 3 years.
The company provides the means for neuroscientists to work with the human brain in awake subjects by manufacturing and supplying state-of-the-art clinical and research instruments. We were lucky enough to be given a tour of the workshop. Strapping on some fetching anti-static strips to our boots (which Kat was still inadvertently modelling on the train to Cardiff), we chatted to various members of the team, some of whom have been with the company for nearly 20 years. Clearly very proud of their Queen’s Award, the emblem features on coasters in their reception area (and around the building) and their Grant of Appointment has pride of place on the wall. Almost as proudly displayed was the photo of Robin with the legend that is Nile Rodgers – we were suitably impressed, Robin! Despite the kind offer of a lift back to the train station we decided to take advantage of the warm weather and walk it ourselves.
After spending the night in a surprisingly dry Cardiff (in my experience it always rains here), we spent the morning talking to Eleanor Harris and Sally-Anne Hawkins from the Welsh Government about opportunities for us to work together to further promote the Queen’s Awards across Wales and celebrate local winners. With Export Week coming up on 7 April, there are lots of events where we can shout about the Awards and get Welsh businesses interested in entering. We’re even translating some of our promotional banners into Welsh – we try not to miss a trick!
Bon Bon Buddies
We then rushed off to catch the train to Europe’s premier provider of character and branded confectionery, Blackwood-based Bon Bon Buddies. Bon Bon Buddies won their Queen’s Award for International Trade only last year and we managed to get a minute with MD, Chris Howarth to see how the company was getting on almost a year after their win was announced. Unfortunately the room where all the goodies were housed was in use when we arrived but there was a wonderful collection of confectionery on display in the reception area (you’ll have to wait for the video to get your sugar fix). We managed to control our desire to walk out with a load of sweetie swag and headed back to the train station for the next tour date.
REID Lifting Ltd
The final stop on our busy itinerary was double Queen’s Award winner REID Lifting Ltd, who won the Queen’s Award in 2013 in both the Innovation and International Trade categories – no mean feat!
With its premises nestled next to the SevernBridge, REID Lifting has rapidly developed into a market leading manufacturer of innovative, lightweight, portable and safe lifting equipment. We were greeted by Elisabeta who straight away alerted us to the Grant of Appointment on the wall behind us – it’s great to see so many companies really celebrating their win by displaying the Award where all their visitors can admire it. REID’s very amiable MD, Nick Battersby was equally welcoming as he took us on a tour of the production floor which was filled to the brim with all sorts of metal components - it's easy to see why they need to move to much larger premises soon.
Nick’s colleague, Peter gave us an impressive demonstration of just how simple and quick it is to assemble one of REID’s products, the Porta Gantry, and the end product is clearly very robust. To make sure we captured all angles on film, poor Peter found himself demonstrating the process several times – he must have been glad when we took Nick off for his turn on camera. Before leaving Nick ‘let slip’ a great little story about Peter's flustered meeting with The Queen at the Buckingham Palace Awards reception (let’s just say that 'burtseys' could become the greeting of choice for 2014...). Once we finished grilling Nick and had a last little look around, we accepted the very kind offer of a lift to the station.
And here ends our journey. We had a really great time in Wales and we’ll definitely be heading back soon to film more winners. We’d like to thank everyone we visited for giving up their time to talk to us and we hope that we’ve done you justice in this blog.
It will take us a little while to edit the videos of the businesses we visited but we’ll let you know when these are ready to view on our YouTube channel.