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Glencraft boss says prestigious Queen’s Award a ‘tribute to Duncan’

Duncan Skinner
Duncan Skinner

Four north and north-east firms are among 13 from around Scotland unveiled as Queen’s Awards for Enterprise winners today (April 29).

A total of 205 businesses around the UK have been recognised for their exceptional achievements in promoting opportunity, innovation, sustainable development and international trade.

The north and north-east quartet comprises Aberdeen firms Glencraft and Exceed, Ellon-based Impact Subsea and Johnstons of Elgin.

For luxury mattress-maker Glencraft, its award for promoting opportunity through social mobility is a fitting tribute to former chairman Duncan Skinner, who died earlier this month following a year-long battle with cancer.

Mr Skinner – whose death prompted a flood of tributes from across the north-east and further afield – had helped to save the social enterprise 11 years ago.

It was his idea to enter Glencraft for the Queen’s Awards and he was told of its successful bid just days before his death.

Glencraft managing director Graham McWilliam.

The firm is a royal warrant holder and has supported disadvantaged people for 178 years.

Its managing director, Graham McWilliam, said: “Duncan will always hold a special place in everyone’s hearts at Glencraft.

“He helped to save a social enterprise by ensuring it travelled down a more professional and sustainable path – a strategy for long-term success.

“Duncan recognised the importance of giving people the opportunity to work, regardless of their background. It was his idea to enter the awards and typical of him to be thinking of others, even at a time of immense personal challenge.

“His response, when informed of the award win, was to say simply: ‘That’s awesome’. He was a special person, defined by integrity.”

l-r Glencraft acting chairman Jonathan Smith and managing director Graham McWilliam at the charity’s Aberdeen showroom.

Mr McWilliam added: “We’re thrilled to win this prestigious award – it’s a lasting tribute, not only to Duncan and all that he did for Glencraft, but also to everyone at the charity.”

Glencraft – founded in 1843 as the Royal Aberdeen Workshop for the Blind and Disabled – sells more than 5,000 mattresses a year, with many five-star hotels among its customers.

It makes bespoke mattresses for the offshore oil and gas industry, as well as for Caledonian Sleeper trains.

The firm has branded stores in Hong Kong and Singapore, while closer to home it has supplied mattresses to four generations of royalty at Balmoral.

Now in their 55th year, the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are regarded by many as the most prestigious business accolades in the UK.

Winners are allowed to use the coveted Queen’s Awards emblem for the next five years.

UK Small Business Minister Paul Scully said: “In challenging times like these, promoting opportunity to the most disadvantaged people in our communities is more essential than ever before.

“We had some phenomenal winners across Scotland and the rest of the UK this year, and it is fantastic to be able to highlight the incredible achievements of Glencraft in creating opportunities and helping people get back on their feet as we build back better.”

Entrepreneurial spirit

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The past year has been a tough time for many businesses across the UK. That is why it is more important than ever to celebrate the achievements of our wealth creators and recognise the contributions they make to our communities.

“In the last 12 months, British businesses showed the entrepreneurial spirit this country is renowned for, continuing to drive social mobility, find new markets to export to and produce innovative products and services. I wish every business that applied for an award this year every success.”

Lord lieutenants will present the awards to winning businesses during the rest of this year.

Aberdeen city and shire energy service companies honoured for sales and technology

Sustainability key to fourth Queen’s Award for Johnstons of Elgin