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Our Day With the Queen


23/07/2015


Corporate News


Company Shop Chairman John Marren blogs about the day he and Commercial Director Tom Rumboll were invited to Buckingham Palace to represent Company Shop as recipients of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

Our Day With the Queen

Company Shop Chairman John Marren blogs about the day he and Commercial Director Tom Rumboll were invited to Buckingham Palace to represent Company Shop as recipients of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

We hadn’t even left for the Palace and I was already very excited and looking forward to what was going to be a day to remember.

Tom had arranged to drop off my suit. I felt sure he was going to set me up – perhaps giving me a bright orange suit, or one of my old ones, or even an empty hanger. But Tom was good to his word and brought my new suit I had picked out especially.

We made our way to Buckingham Palace and everyone was really busy when we arrived – with the police checking-in attendees, tourists trying to recognise if anyone famous was entering the Palace, and us in the midst of it all.

After the security checks, we entered through the arches into a large courtyard, and walked across to the main entrance of the Palace. Mobile phones and cameras had to be left in the cloakrooms in a Buckingham Palace carrier bag - Harrods carriers are so last season. We then went up a magnificent set of stairs to a reception room where canapés and drinks were being served.

It was so great to be there, with interesting fellow Queen's Award winners and such a beautiful setting, I thought to myself we should have arrived earlier to soak it up more. Soon after, organisers asked us to line up before going into the next room - we knew what was coming next - meeting Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip.

To my surprise they announced my name and The Queen was right inside the door greeting guests. The BBC and a photographer were also there capturing our reactions. She looked wonderful and had her hand outstretched to me – which I shook gently and bowed. She had such an amazing, warm and welcoming smile, and didn’t seem like she had already greeted hundreds of people that day – a consummate professional!

Next was Prince Philip, who I also shook hands with and bowed. I said the same thing to both of them as I couldn’t think of anything else. Just to say good evening Ma’am, or Sir, thank you for the award and letting them know that everyone at Company Shop is so thrilled to have received such an honour.

Inside the room were various members of the Royal family mingling with guests, including Prince Andrew, Princess Eugenie and Princess Anne.

There was also a steady flow of the most amazing canapés and drinks, and Tom and I joked that the Mumm champagne they served would be pronounced Ma’am – at least in the Palace!

Whilst in the reception room, we were approached by Sir Jonathan Stephens KCB. He was a member of the Queen’s Award selection panel and told us he thought the work we were doing was just fantastic. He mentioned his usual job is as Permanent Secretary in the Northern Ireland Office – perhaps a new market for us? Business brain is always on!

Next came a conversation that I will never forget. As we were on our way out, we were approached by two young ladies who had presented our application to the panel. They told us that out of all the applications, ours was the one that blew everyone away. We were so pleased, and given the winners we were amongst this was high praise indeed!

We ended the night with good food, good wine and great company at an amazing restaurant in central London – a perfect end to a perfect day and one I’ll always remember.

I want to finally say thanks a million to Tom and to everyone back at the ranch who all played their part in making this amazing award win possible – it means a great deal for the business to be recognised so highly by the Queen with such a prestigious honour and is a real milestone for Company Shop.