The Queen's Award for Enterprise: Accolades for industry reach their highest level in a decade

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There was a sharp increase in the number of Queen's Awards granted this year, the 40th year of the scheme, as a result of better quality businesses coming forward to apply.

There was a sharp increase in the number of Queen's Awards granted this year, the 40th year of the scheme, as a result of better quality businesses coming forward to apply.

Honours were also given out to individuals for the first time, under a new category to recognise business mentors. The award for Enterprise Promotion was given to 11 people, including a "Lifetime Achievement" honour to Professor Kenneth O'Neill of the University of Ulster, in recognition of his work in developing managerial skills among small businesses in Northern Ireland and his role in promoting entrepreneurship among the young in the province.

This year, 137 awards were made, the most for a decade, in the three established categories of international trade, innovation and sustainable development. This was despite the fact that the number of applications were only slightly up on last year and well below applications made in 2003, 2002 or 2001.

Stephen Brice, the secretary at the Queen's Awards Office, said: "The quality was that much higher this time around. There are no set number of awards to be made in any year, it just reflects the quality [of applications]." The largest company to win this year was the UK subsidiary of the Japanese motor industry giant, Toyota, which employs 4,454 people.

The award, in the international trade category, was based on the fact that during the past three years, the business has almost doubled the value of its exports to £2bn a year.

It has also pulled off the unlikely feat of exporting cars to Japan from its plant in Derbyshire, which sends its Avensis and Corolla models to 80 countries worldwide ­ including 1,100 cars a month to Japan.

At the other end of the scale is Carlton Edge System, based in Coventry, which has just two employees. It wins for Innovation, after designing a production system for making the serrated cutting edges that come with dispensers of kitchen foil and cling film.

Food and drink companies again did well this year. Among the winners from this sector was Singletons Dairy, based Preston, Lancashire, which produces a range of traditional British cheeses. It won for international trade after overseas sales increased by 53 per cent over three years.

Adnams, the brewer based in Southwold, Suffolk, picked up an award in the sustainable development category. The honour recognised the progress the company has made in lowering energy, water and materials consumption, reduced emissions from logistics and a "clear commitment to employee satisfaction and well-being".

A sustainable development award also went to Country Lanes, a business that offers cycling holidays in the UK. Set up in 1993 by Susan Achmatowicz after she quit a high-power job in the City, the company has been hit by the twin calamities of foot and mouth disease and the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 ­ many of its customers at the time were Americans.

"I was just in despair by October [2001]," said Ms Achmatowicz, who had to sack most of her employees. She then reconfigured the business as a franchise operation and the company is back on its feet and is looking for investors ­ she hopes the Queens Award may lead to backers coming forward.

Ms Achmatowicz, originally from Canada, said: "Yes I miss the big salary and the nine-to-five element [in the City] but it is just so fulfilling running your own business."

Not every winner has a happy tale to tell. Sortex, which won for international trade, faces an uncertain future should London win the Olympic Games ­ it and more than 300 other businesses in its part of east London will have to relocate. Sortex, a manufacturer of hi-tech equipment that sorts agricultural crops, said that it had not received adequate help on relocation from government agencies and it feared having to part with its valuable employees if forced to move.

Bruno Kilshaw, the managing director at Sortex, said up to 15,000 jobs were at stake from affected businesses in the area. "When 6,000 jobs go at Longbridge [at Rover], Brown and Blair go rushing up the M1. Here 15,000 jobs could go and we've not heard a mutter from anyone."

The winners

International Trade

Abbot Group, Abcam, Advanced Crusher Spares, Allen Group, Alvan Blanch Development Company, Arcotronics, Aromco, Atkin Chambers, Bupa International, BananaStock, Bartec Auto ID, Edmund Bell & Company, The Bruichladdich Distillery, Canongate Books, Cellhire, Checker Leather, F. J. Church & Sons, Colin Stewart Minchem, Cunningham Lindsey International;

Dansco Dairy Products, Datapath, James Dawson & Son, Delcam, Delta Biotechnology, Diomed, Dunn Brothers (1995), Extec Screens & Crushers, Fine Fragrances & Cosmetics, FlavorActiV, Fonebak, G D Metal Recycling, G.R. Micro, Gate 7, Genesys International, GigaSat, GreenMech;

Heber, Helen of Troy (UK), K Home International, ICAP, Image Source, Inca Digital Printers, Indamex, Intex Management Services (IMS Research), Investment Property Databank, Isle of Arran Distillers, JCB Backhoe Loader Business Unit, Andrew Kain Enterprises, Kemistry, LibraPharm;

Martek Marine, Martin Currie, Microsulis, Millbrook Instruments, Molecular Products, NavisWorks, Newson Gale, Nitecrest, Noahs Ark Chemicals, Northbrook Technology of Northern Ireland, Oceanair Marine, Outokumpu Stainless (ASR Rod Mill), BL-Pegson;

Pelam Foods, Performance Plus (John Crane UK), Perkins Shibaura Engines, Pipeshield International, Powershield Doors, Rock Fall Company, Rotary (International);

Sat-Comm, Scientific Games International, Shipham Valves, Silver Fox, Singletons Dairy, Smith & Ouzman, Sortex, Specialised Petroleum Services International (SPS International);

Tilhill Forestry, Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK), Tracerco, Trackwise Designs (Trackwise), Trinity International Services, University of Essex, University of Westminster, Varn Products Company, Viridian Energy Supply (Energia), Yes Group.


AGD Systems, Air Bearings, apetito, Apollo Chemicals, Autotype International, Avent (Cannon Avent Group), B&W Loudspeakers, Bionics Corporation (Broadcast Bionics);

Cableflow International, Carton Edge Systems, Checkprint, Colin Stewart Minchem, Corniche Fine Arts, Datix, DiGiCo UK, FilmLight, Fujitsu Telecommunications Europe, John Guest International, Inca Digital Printers, Interface Fabrics, KROHNE, Martek Marine;

Norprint Labelling Systems, Alan Nuttall Fresh Food Solutions, PIPS Technology, Pipeshield International, Retail Logic, RiskSTOP, SiS (Science in Sport), Safeglass (Europe), ScotAsh, ScrewFast Foundations, Selenia Communications, Sibelius Software, Sterling Power Products, Surrey Satellite Technology, TMD Technologies, TPA Trax Portable Access, The Training Foundation, Visualfiles, Xaar.

Sustainable Development

Abel & Cole, Adnams, Best Foot Forward, Clinton Devon Estates, Country Lanes, Global Tea & Commodities, Renewable Energy Systems Group, The Venus Company.

Enterprise Promotion

Sikander Badat, Professor Alan Barrell FRSA, Dinah Bennett, Stephen Dumbell, Diane Gowland, Gary McEwan, Brian Murray, Joy Nichol, Edward Prosser, Charles Skene.