It is now almost fifteen years since I chaired a major review of The Queen's Awards scheme in 1999. The task of the Review Committee all that time ago was to update the scheme to take account of changes in the business environment and to ensure that the Awards were accessible and relevant to companies in both manufacturing and service sectors in the twenty-first century.
Much has changed over the intervening years and aspects of our business and social culture would probably astonish members of that committee today. However, our combined success back then is evidenced by the continued influence and pertinence of the Awards as they approach their fiftieth anniversary in 2015.
The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the UK’s most prestigious Awards for business success and it is particularly encouraging that so many companies, having won a Queen's Award and experienced the benefits, decide to reapply. It is also heartening to see that the standard of entries each year remains so very high and yet twenty per cent of entrants in 2014 won an Award, and eighteen of those winning companies had ten employees or fewer.
I am particularly pleased to see the continued growth and importance in the Sustainable Development category. The diversity of those that have won Awards in this category over the years is fascinating, but what is more inspiring is the way in which these ideals and principles now pervade so many more companies. I can only congratulate Jaguar Land Rover for their success in the International Trade section of the Awards this year, but I am aware that this comes in addition to their recognition as Business in the Community's Responsible Business of the Year for their commitment to apprenticeship schemes, and their support for so many sustainable projects worldwide.
I would also like to applaud ClimateCare Oxford Limited, whose efforts in offsetting carbon emissions extended even as far as supporting The Queen's Awards Magazine – every copy that was delivered this year supported the LifeStraw Carbon for Water project, bringing safe drinking water to four million people across the entire Western Province of Kenya.
I warmly congratulate not only the one hundred and sixty two businesses of all sizes and across so many industries that have won Queen's Awards this year, but also the eight individuals receiving a Queen's Award for Enterprise Promotion in recognition of their work to encourage business enterprise skills and attitudes in others. Their voluntary and selfless achievements have been truly outstanding and inspirational.