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“More than a cultural capital” – the drive to prove city region’s business brilliance through King’s Awards recognition

Liverpool city region businesses have been urged not to be “modest” about their achievements and shine a light on their excellence by challenging themselves to win a King’s Award for Enterprise (KAE).

At a special launch event at the Royal Liver Building (12 July 2023), city region business leaders heard from the Lord Lieutenant for Merseyside, a panel of deputy lieutenants, current and past award recipients and King’s Award officers, on how winning the UK’s most prestigious business accolade could supercharge their organisation’s prospects.

The KAE (formerly the Queen’s Award) recognises the outstanding achievements of UK businesses across International Trade, Innovation, Sustainable Development and Promoting Opportunity through Social Mobility.

The Lord Lieutenant Mark Blundell said: “Companies from across Merseyside have won awards in the past and do so every year, but we need to promote this opportunity more deeply, because a King’s Award for Enterprise is extremely valuable. There’s a rich talent base here that deserves this royal recognition. Whichever category, it says that you are one of the leading companies in your field in the UK.”

Max Steinberg CBE, a Deputy Lieutenant and the former chief executive of Liverpool Vision, the city’s economic development company, said the drive was on to prove that the region is more than a famous cultural capital. He said: “This region is also a huge commercial centre, with businesses that innovate, that have fantastic products, that are successful overseas and who are working to help others and there is top level recognition for them waiting which everyone will benefit from.

“Yet, there is something about this part of the world where people tend to be modest about their businesses and this is not a time to be so. It’s a time to shout about what you do and how well you are doing it because times are tough at the moment and if this can give you an edge, more profile, more profitability, add some lustre, then we urge you to go for it.”

Nichola Bruno and Chloe Palser from the Kings Award Office explained to attendees that while the application was rigorous there was a wealth of help available both form their experts and from the Lord Lieutenant’s team. They said awards are only given to a select few companies and as success is not guaranteed, this serves to differentiate the winners as truly exceptional. Eligible businesses are free to apply for one or more categories. The winners pass a robust assessment process, judged by senior officials in Whitehall and experts from industry, academia and the third sector. On that basis, the winners of The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are recommended by the Prime Minister to His Majesty the King.

Attendees also heard from several award recipients. Michael Gould, MD at Richardsons Healthcare in Bootle, which won a Queen’s Award for international trade in 2019, said the award had transformed his business by helping to double turnover and the number of export destinations. He said: “Winning the award gave us a huge boost in profile enhancing our reputation and relevancy within a much bigger peer group. It demonstrated that we were a very serious exporter, gave us a competitive advantage, boosted employee morale and productivity and importantly it gave a small company like mine legitimacy.”

John Roberts, director at family business Roberts Recycling in Aigburth which won an award for international trade in 2019 and 2021, said: “This is a really powerful symbol because it helps to set us apart and underlines the fact that we are doing something commendable on an international level. Having this royal seal of approval definitely makes a difference working overseas and helps build lasting trust.”

Dean Dumbell, deputy group chief executive of Knowsley Development Trust Ltd, which won a Queens’ Award in 2009 and 2015 for sustainable development, said: “The awards have given us the confidence to talk about what we are achieving and how we progress our ambition. It also gives customers and colleagues, including those from other organisations, the confidence in working with and for us.”

Winners’ awards are valid for five years. Winners are permitted to fly The King’s Awards flag at their main office and use the emblem on their marketing materials. Winners, of which there are only around 200 across the country every year, are also given a Grant of Appointment (an official certificate) and a commemorative crystal trophy, presented by the Lord Lieutenant, as well as receiving an invitation to a special event at Buckingham Palace.

The awards are open to all UK businesses, large and small, provided they have at least two years’ trading history and employ at least two people or part-time equivalents.

Businesses can apply for the King’s Award online through the official website: The King’s Awards for Enterprise: About the awards