HRH The Princess Royal presents King's Award at Focus SB
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited Focus SB on Wednesday 22nd November 2023 where she formally presented our Managing Director Gary Stevens with a King’s Award for Enterprise crystal trophy for our achievement in the international trade category.
The Princess Royal arrived at Focus SB’s main factory in St Leonards on Sea and was welcomed by Mr Graham Peters, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of East Sussex who presented her to distinguished guests Mr Richard Bickersteth, High Sheriff of East Sussex; Councillor Peter Pragnell, Chairman of East Sussex County Council and Councillor Margi O’Callaghan, Mayor of Hastings before Gary welcomed Her Royal Highness and invited her into the building where he presented The Princess Royal to some of Focus SB’s senior management team: Mr Roger Kemp, our recently retired company chairman and owner; guest Mrs Suzi Baker, PR and social media consultant; Technical Manager Mark Curtis; Head of Strategic Partnerships Duncan Ray; guest Mrs Andrea Randall-Smith, CEO of Little Gate Supported Employment and our General Manager Chris Turner.
The Princess Royal was then invited on a tour of our Napier Road factory by Chris Turner, flanked by Gary Stevens during which she was given electrical accessories product manufacturing process demonstrations by each departmental group, introduced by our HR and Customer Aftercare Manager Mrs Jo Cloute; Assembly Manager Mrs Val Chandler; Finance Manager and Company Secretary Mr Andrew Lanworn; Sales and Marketing Manager Mr Steve Moss; Operations Support Manager Mr Rob Little and Sales Office Manager Mrs Terri Hoey. Demonstrations included both traditional and robot technology, hand finishing including spray painting and component hand assembly. Her Royal Highness greeted employees from each department, including apprentices and trainees from Little Gate Supported Employment, after which she proceeded to one end of the factory where all staff were assembled for a formal presentation of the King’s Award for Enterprise trophy to Gary introduced by Mr Andrew Blackman, Lord-Lieutenant of East Sussex.
The Lord-Lieutenant welcomed the attending guests and invited The Princess Royal to give a short speech of congratulations and present the King’s Award for Enterprise engraved crystal trophy to Gary, who accepted the award on behalf of Focus SB, giving a short speech of thanks. He then invited Terri to present Her Royal Highness with gifts comprising a Sussex Trug containing a beautiful floral arrangement of locally grown flowers from Sussex Cutting Garden, part of the Flowers from the Farm organisation which champions British flowers (growers in the group supplied cut flowers to the florist chosen for The King’s coronation) presented with honey from a beehive sponsored by Focus SB at SW Honey Farms and a wreath of flowers grown and handmade by the trainees at Little Gate Farm. Sussex Cutting Garden also provided an attractive floral arrangement to decorate our reception area for the occasion.
Our MD then invited The Princess Royal back to Focus SB’s reception to unveil a commemorative plaque manufactured by us to mark her visit.
Design industry guests joining Focus SB to share in this prestigious moment for the company included Mr Grant Pierrus, Interior Style Hunter and Mrs Sophie Harper, editor Hospitality Interiors magazine who delighted in joining us in celebrating this very special occasion!
Gary Stevens commented: “It was an absolute honour to host HRH The Princess Royal at our factory in Hastings yesterday and to receive our King’s Award from her. I think she spoke to virtually every member of staff and was very knowledgeable. What a year for Focus SB and me personally, getting to meet The King, a Princess and a Duchess! We were delighted to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to Focus SB to present us with our King’s Awards for Enterprise for International Trade trophy in person. This visit rounds off one of the most exciting years in the company’s history.”
He continued: “It’s a huge honour for an SME based in Hastings to have the recognition of a King’s Award, one of the most prestigious awards a company can be bestowed, but in addition to that, meeting The King at Buckingham Palace and then to have a visit from The Princess Royal is a huge boost and reward for every single employee at Focus SB, without whom, none of this would have been possible. I have been in manufacturing of electrical products all of my career and I started off as a 16-year-old technical apprentice and have worked my way through various businesses from technical to marketing, sales and general management and I have been an MD of two manufacturing companies, including currently with Focus SB.”
An Export Champion for Southern England as part of the Department for Business & Trade's (DBT) Export Champions programme for 2023/24, Gary concludes: "I am passionate about manufacturing and introducing more young people into manufacturing and encouraging them to take up apprenticeships, I would like to think that we are doing our bit here at Focus SB by working with local educational establishments, employment agencies and local charities to fulfil that goal, and that my own journey can act as a beacon for those young people who may be thinking about a career in manufacturing and what can be achieved. After all, manufacturing accounts for 2.6 million jobs in the UK and we are the 8th largest manufacturing country in the world!”