Charity wins Queen’s Award for Enterprise

L-R Jonathan Smith, Glencraft acting chairman and Graham McWilliam managing director at the charity’s Aberdeen showroom

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ABERDEEN charity Glencraft has won a prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

The award for promoting opportunity through social mobility is a fitting tribute to Glencraft chairman Duncan Skinner, who sadly passed away earlier this month following a year-long battle with cancer.

It was Duncan’s idea to enter the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. He was told the social enterprise, he had helped to save 11 years ago, had been successful a few days before he passed away.

Mr Skinner, along with businessman Bob Keiller – a former CEO at Wood Group – led the fight to save Glencraft in 2010.

The charity, which employs people from disadvantaged backgrounds, has since gone from strength to strength, supporting 38 jobs and attracting worldwide admirers.

Graham McWilliam, Glencraft managing director, 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.

“Only one member of staff found work when the site was closed for a short time in 2009. Duncan recognised the importance of giving people the opportunity to work, regardless of their background.

“It was Duncan’s 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.

“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.

“One member of staff has been with Glencraft for nearly 50 years, while another provides key manufacturing skills despite being blind. He has been with us for 35 years. This honour recognises the role everyone here has played in our success story and our commitment to making a quality product.”

Glencraft, based in Mastrick, is a recognised global luxury mattress brand – with sales to five-star hotels and multi-year distribution agreements with companies in South Korea and China.  Through its partners, Glencraft has branded stores in Singapore and Hong Kong.

The social enterprise sells more than 5,000 mattresses per year and is currently in talks with a number of potential European partners.

Closer to home, it has provided bespoke mattresses for the offshore oil & gas sector and has an ongoing contract for the supply of 1,100 industry-compliant luxury mattresses for a North Sea operator.

One of Glencraft’s recent highlights was a contract to supply 974 mattresses for the Caledonian Sleeper Service.

In addition, Glencraft supplies a Glasgow-based employment support facility RSBi City Building by manufacturing bonnell springs for its mattresses. RSBi employs more than 250 people, more than 50% of whom have a disability.

Glencraft faced closure in 2009 after Aberdeen City Council pulled a substantial grant due to a funding review. The campaign to save the charity – it relaunched in 2010 – and introduce a more strategic approach secured its future.

Glencraft, which holds a Royal Warrant and has supplied mattresses to four generations of royalty at Balmoral, won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility) for its commitment to supporting people from under-represented groups, while providing development and training support to its staff and a sustainable business model.

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