We all love a good story, especially a ‘good news’ story. So, at a time when the economy has suffered an unparalleled shock and many businesses are facing considerable challenges, it is inspiring to see companies in the region finding a way to survive against all the odds, positively contribute to wider society, or make the best of straitened times and achieve outstanding success.
Whether this is by vision, creativity, skills, perseverance, plain graft or a combination of these qualities, they are a great example to us all. Such effort is deserving of reward or at least, award, and that is where the UK’s Queen’s Awards scheme comes in.
Instituted by Royal Warrant in 1965, the Queen’s Awards to Industry scheme was recommended by a committee chaired by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, and the first awards were made in 1966.
A Queen’s Award for Enterprise (QAE) offers recognition for an organisation’s achievements and validation for the whole workforce as well as the innovation, initiatives, products or services it has been delivering. Such validation can be a real fillip to staff morale, act as a powerful selling tool and provide reassuring confidence for commercial partners.
All Queen’s Awards have a currency of five years and, when made, are presented by HM Lord-Lieutenant of the county on behalf of the Sovereign. The categories of award are:
- International Trade
- Sustainable Development
- Promoting Opportunity
The last of the categories (Promoting Opportunity) has just been relaunched with an emphasis on recognising organisations that support people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds in improving their job skills and chances of finding work. The focus is to encourage businesses to help improve social mobility.
To be eligible for a Queen’s Award a company must be based in the UK, have at least two full-time UK employees or part-time equivalents and file its company tax returns with HMRC and be a self-contained enterprise that markets its own products or services under its own management, as well as demonstrating strong corporate social responsibility.
The awards are free to enter and applications are submitted online. Winners are announced on 21 April (HM The Queen’s birthday) and the new application round opens on 1 May. The benefits of winning include the following:
- Winners are invited to a Royal Reception at Buckingham Palace
- The Grant of Appointment and a commemorative crystal trophy are presented to winners at their company by their local Lord-Lieutenant
- Winners are permitted to fly the Queen’s Award flag at their main office, and use the emblem on their products and marketing materials for five years
To date nearly 7,000 companies have won a Queen’s Award. Last year 90% of the winners were SMEs. There were 665 applications, with 220 awards granted to 216 winners (there were four double award winners) with 66 Innovation awards, 128 International Trade awards, 7 Promoting Opportunity awards and 19 Sustainable Development awards.
Four Northamptonshire companies won an Award in 2020:
- Bambino Mio: International Trade
- James and James Fulfilment: International Trade
- Blue Skies Holdings Ltd : Sustainable Development
- Goodwill Solutions CIC: Promoting Opportunity
Congratulations go to those award winners. Their success is an encouragement to others to apply, for even greater representation of the region among award winners next year and beyond. Unlike that part of the honours system that recognises the contributions of individuals, a business can self-nominate.
So, if there is something that might encourage your team by recognising their efforts and give your organisation a bit of an edge, or if you have something to shout about, why not consider applying for a Queen’s Award? There is plenty of time until next summer’s deadline, so now is a good time to start building your case and preparing your application.
If you would like further information or guidance on the Queen’s Awards, contact the Lord-Lieutenant’s Office via Lord-Lieutenant@northamptonshire.gov.uk