The King congratulates Gary Stevens at Buckingham Palace Reception
Our MD Gary Stevens is honoured to receive an invitation from The Master of the King’s Household commanded by His Majesty King Charles III to invite him to a reception to be given at Buckingham Palace by The King for recipients of The King’s Awards for Enterprise 2023.
The reception held last evening hosted a real mix of companies, from drugs packaging companies, to medical equipment manufacturers and IT/graphics developers and charities.
Gary shares his account of the prestigious event: “ I arrived at 17.15 at the gates of Buckingham Palace - I felt like a bit of a celebrity because the general public were all milling around outside, probably wondering who all these suited and booted people were who were being ushered into the grounds!
“We were then led into the Palace and one of the first things we had to do was deposit our mobile phones in the cloakroom to prevent anything other than the official photographers taking shots (and I assume for security purposes too!).
“We then proceeded up some flights of grand staircases with walls adorned with works of art that would not look out of place in some of the world's greatest art museums. Wonderful ornate ceilings of gilded plasterwork and intricate designs and the most amazing chandeliers! We entered what I later found out to be the very impressive Blue Drawing Room.
“After networking with a number of fellow winners (148 in total), some of whom were there for the first time and some were there for their second award (one company took 20 years to win their award - so that just demonstrates how difficult it is to win this prestigious award!) The King entered the room and was duly introduced to the first of the winners by their Lord Lieutenant. As you would expect, there were the covert protection officers who were identifiable with their ear pieces in place! There were also two military officers whose main task was to keep The King flowing and the main crowd well back to enable His Majesty to roam freely and interact with the winning representatives. The first impression I got was of someone who seems to be very relaxed and comfortable in such events, which has the effect of rubbing off on his very keen audience! he seemed very engaged and more than eager to stop and chat and with a genuine interest in what the winners had won their awards for!
“During this time, I asked one of the officers which regiment he was attached to because I recognised his colours, and my hunch was right, he was a Coldstream Guard, which happens to be the regiment that my late father served in during the mid to late fifties and reached the rank of sergeant. I happened to have a photo of my father pinned to the inside of my jacket, which I shared with the officer and we immediately sparked! He obviously had a job to do, so I left him to it.
“I chatted to a fellow winner, Graeme Dell of Cableflow, who had won for the second time, this time for innovation. I have known Graeme for over thirty years and he is one of Focus SB's valued customers! We were then approached by The Duchess of Edinburgh (Sophie). She asked what business we were in and she seemed very knowledgeable in British manufacturing and the value of the sector for the UK economy and was very interested in our story of selling premium products into China.
“The King by this time had moved further into the room and eventually, luckily my turn arrived (not everyone was guaranteed to personally meet him, but I was fortunate to be one who did! We shook hands and he asked me what business I was in. I told him who we were and that we had a "coals to Newcastle" story, selling premium electrical products into China and he commented on the level of difficulty that must have posed and asked how business was since the pandemic. I told him that one of the key success factors was to ensure that you have the right partner in territory - that goes for any territory overseas. He also asked if Brexit had affected our business in any way and my response was, marginally, but not adversely, but that we may not be typical in UK industry. He congratulated me on our award and moved onto the next recipient.”
Gary concludes: “Winning the King's Award for Enterprise is not only an endorsement of the hard work that we have done in building our export market, but it is also one of the highest accolades a business can achieve. I feel even more proud and privileged to be part of what is a very select few companies who receive this prestigious recognition each year and am looking forward to making sure that Focus SB takes full advantage of being a recipient."