The Managing Director of KMF Group has been awarded an MBE for services to apprenticeships.
Gareth Higgins received the award from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales yesterday during a morning ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
KMF, a leading sheet metal fabricator and precision engineering firm, employs 550 people, operating its own in-house training programme and also organising an annual Young Engineer of the Year competition, which captivates hundreds of local students every year and fires their enthusiasm towards engineering.
In the last ten years, Gareth and KMF have supported over 100 young people through apprenticeships in engineering, 14 of whom have progressed to degree-level apprenticeships.
In March, KMF also beat off stiff competition from the likes of Jaguar Land Rover and BMW to win the Skills Innovation Award at the SEMTA Skills Awards for its work with apprentices.
Gareth worked in the Royal Navy as a weapons technician between 1987 and 1992, later joining the engineering firm co-founded by his father. Gareth has overseen KMF's continued growth and success over the last 25 years, from £20.6 million to a £35 million Sheet Metal Fabrication and Precision Engineering Group.
Commenting from Buckingham Palace, Gareth said: "It's been a really special day. I'm honoured and humbled."
"This is a really special family occasion and it's been wonderful to share today with my dad, mum, brother and sister, and my wife. KMF's success is a family success story and the MBE is recognition of everyone's hard work."