Walker’s Shortbread director Jim Walker has said it was an “absolute shock and very humbling” to be knighted for his exceptional service to the food industry.
Mr Walker, 77, will receive the honour at a date yet to be fixed because of a backlog caused by Covid, but the new knight of the realm-to-be is no stranger to grand investitures, having received his existing CBE from the Queen at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in 1998.
The announcement recognises Mr Walker for “bringing international success to a once small Scottish family concern, supporting both the local community and economy of Aberlour.”
‘I didn’t have a clue’
Sir Jim is currently on holiday in Canada where he is celebrating the 100th birthday of his Scottish mother-in-law, a Canadian war bride.
He described his reaction when hearing the news 10 days ago and how he had to keep silent – until now.
“I didn’t have a clue – I never even thought about it,” Sir Jim told the Press and Journal. “The fact I did not expect it makes it even more exciting. It was a strict embargo.
“It is a lovely thing, I just feel so appreciative.
“I would like my mother-in-law to be the first person in Canada to know.
‘Amazing support’ for 60 years
“I would like to say thank you to my family and many lifelong friends and colleagues at Walker’s Shortbread who have given me amazing support over the last 60 years.”
Grandson of Walker’s Shortbread founder Joseph Walker, Jim joined the Speyside family business in 1962 when it was still a village bakery and, along with his brother Joe and sister Marjorie, built the company to become the largest family-owned biscuit manufacturer in the UK exporting to more than 100 markets worldwide and employing 1,500 staff at peak times across its six Speyside factories.
Mr Walker has been responsible for the company’s shortbread sales, marketing and exports since the early 1970s with the business the only UK food manufacturer to have won the Queen’s Award for Export on four occasions.
Walker’s was also granted the Royal Warrant for the supply of oatcakes to the Queen in 2001 and for shortbread in 2017.
It also recently produced a limited edition of its product stamped with Union Jacks on the biscuits for the Platinum Jubilee.
At the start of the year he retired and passed the reins of the family-owned firm to the fourth generation. His nephew Nicky became managing director of the shortbread maker, a role which Mr Walker had shared with his brother.
Born in Elgin and raised in Aberlour, Speyside, Mr Walker was educated at Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen.