THE Prince of Wales has praised a North East business leader for his "outstanding" contribution to the community.
PD Ports chief executive David Robinson was named the Prince’s regional ambassador for the North East at Business in the Community’s annual dinner in Newcastle on Monday.
At the event a video message from Prince Charles was played to the audience in which he explained why Robinson had been chosen to succeed Greggs chief executive Ken McMeikan in the role.
Charles, who has been president of Business in the Community for 27 years, said the organisation continued to attract “far-sighted business leaders who are willing to work with me to address some of the very toughest issues of society”.
He explained that he first met Robinson in 2010 on a ‘Seeing is Believing’ visit with McMeikan and a group of other business leaders to Teesside to explore the impact of the planned closure of the Redcar steel plant. It was subsequently saved by Thai firm SSI.
“It was a fascinating visit, and I could not be more grateful to that group which did not let their commitment to the area diminish in the months and years that have followed,” said Charles.
“They have achieved a tremendous amount and this has become a truly outstanding example of what can be done through collaborative working.
“I managed to return to Redcar last year, and was delighted to see so much progress had been made.
“David has also been committed to helping young people into the workplace: PD Ports took 16 unemployed youngsters from Redcar on a pre-employment scheme and offered them apprenticeships – that is exactly the kind of action we need to give young people a future in these troubled times.
“I was particularly interested to learn of the collaborative project he is leading amongst industrial businesses on Teesside, to encourage local businesses to invest in the future of young people and communities... I much look forward to seeing how this work develops.”
Robinson said he was surprised and honoured to be named the Prince’s regional ambassador, a role he will carry out for the next two years.
Other winners on the night included Barbara Gubbins, chief executive of County Durham Community Foundation, who received the North East Sieff Award – set up in 2002 to recognise an individual based in the community who has collaborated with business to benefit society.
Companies from the region were also recognised for their efforts to play a positive role in the community.
Northumbrian Water, Quorum Business Park and Johnson Matthey were presented with their Big Tick Awards at the North East Awards event which took place at the Centre for Life in Newcastle last night. Siemens, Sage and Teesside-based Lucite International were also recognised with regional awards.