Published: April 21, 2022 | Updated: April 22, 2022

Royal recognition: It’s a hat-trick for Dorset as business trio win prestigious Queen’s Awards

A HeliOperations training flight at Durdle Door. The company joins fellow Dorset businesses JPL Telecom and Tops Day Nurseries in receiving a Queen’s Award. Picture: HeliOperations.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

A trio of companies are the toast of Dorset today after winning the UK’s most prestigious business awards.

HeliOperations and JPL Telecom receive the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade while Tops Day Nurseries wins the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development.

They’re among 232 businesses across the UK, and in a range of sectors, recognised by The Queen on her birthday as among the best in the country.

HeliOperations is the trading name of Developing Assets (UK) Ltd and is based at The Heliport, Osprey Quay, Portland.

Founded by CEO Steve Gladston, a former Royal Navy helicopter pilot specialising in anti-submarine and search and rescue (SAR) roles, it started operation providing contract aircrew and regulatory advice to helicopter operators, principally in the SAR sector.

The company, which employs around 50 people, now delivers helicopter aircrew training to UK military standards by UK ex-military instructors.

With government support it has international contracts in place with Germany, Norway, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Switzerland as its top markets.

In the three years to April 2021, export sales grew by just under 150 per cent from £3.5m to more than £8.4m.

HeliOperations wins the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade for outstanding short-term growth in overseas sales over the last three years.

Steve Gladston said: “We are extremely honoured that Her Majesty has approved a Queen’s Award for Enterprise to HeliOperations.

“It reflects the huge effort by the whole team at Portland as well as in Cornwall and Somerset over a number of years.

“We have received a very warm welcome by Portland and Dorset and through that support, and from the government, have been able to thrive and grow.

“We are very excited about future developments and look forward to working with, and hopefully benefitting, the local community over the coming years.”

JPL Telecom Ltd, based in Sturminster Newton, is a global innovator in the design and engineering of wired and wireless professional headsets as well as related USB/specialist phone cords for contact centres and unified communications.

Founded by James Clarke, CEO, in 2004 its main customer base includes call centres, government services, banks and offices.

The pandemic, and the rise of working from home, led to a big boost in sales with annual turnover in the region of £17m.

Over three years overseas sales have grown by 737 per cent and now account for just under half of all sales.

The company has exported to more than 50 countries worldwide and its top markets are currently the USA, Germany, India and Philippines.

Recently it has entered new markets in Europe and Egypt with JPL now having  local offices in the USA and Europe.

It employs ten people in Dorset and has manufacturing plants overseas including South Korea and China.

James, pictured with his wife, Elaine, Finance Director and eldest son, Thomas, Technical Support Manager, said he was “surprised and delighted” at the award.

JPL won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade for outstanding short-term growth in overseas sales over the last three years.

Tops Day Nurseries was founded in 1990 in Poole by Managing Director Cheryl Hadland.

From its humble beginnings, when a small nursery was opened in Parkstone for four children, it’s now grown to 32 day nurseries across the South providing early education and care for pre-school children.

The company employs 700 staff and has an annual turnover of £15m.

According to the organisers of The Queen’s Awards: “It provides an exemplary example of an organisation taking stock and changing direction, with the MD even retraining in sustainability to provide the leadership needed.

“There is strong evidence of thought leadership and of challenging industry norms, for instance in tackling the huge range of disposable items such as nappies and single-use plastics normally used in the sector.

“It has found and implemented practical solutions and then inspired the wider sector to make their own changes.”

Cheryl, pictured, said she became a sustainability advocate while pursuing her love of scuba diving and “seeing plastic replacing sharks”.

She described herself as “tickled pink’ at winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development adding: “I’m especially pleased for my team who have been through so much in recent years.”

The awards are valid for five years.

Winners are permitted to fly The Queen’s Awards flag at their main office and use the emblem on their marketing materials.

Winners are also given a Grant of Appointment (an official certificate) and a commemorative crystal trophy.

Paul Scully, Small Business Minister, pictured left, said: “This country is renowned for its entrepreneurial achievements and there is no greater showcase for it than The Queen’s Awards.

“It’s vital we celebrate the success of our businesses and recognise the contributions they make to communities across the country.

“I congratulate this year’s winners for their hard work and commitment over the last year and I wish them every success for the future.”