Military Employers Celebrated In Central London Ceremony

Fifty-one awards have been handed out for the Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Awards.

Fifty-one awards have been handed out for the Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Awards at a ceremony in Whitehall.

The scheme was founded five years ago and rewards companies who have shown "outstanding support" to members of the military community.

One winner was Stanley Hodges who heard about a soldier denied a hotel room and decided to have emblazoned on all his building company’s vans, ‘Our sincere thanks to all the men and women in the Armed Forces, you make us proud!’.

“It was at a time when it wasn’t fashionable or acceptable to show support to the Armed Forces,” he told Forces News.

“I read somewhere that soldiers were being discouraged from wearing their uniforms on trains and in public.

"To do my little bit and end up here – I feel like I’ve won the lottery!”

This year’s 51 winners received their awards from Prince Edward and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Prince Edward and Gavin Williamson at Employer Recognition Scheme Award ceremony
The Earl of Wessex handed out the awards alongside Defence Secretary.

“To think that the number of people getting the gold award has gone up by 18 over the last year up to 51 is a real celebration of what they’re giving to our Armed Forces and to the veterans’ community," Mr Williamson said.

“Government can do so much but actually getting businesses involved really magnifies the effect that we’re able to have for so many service personnel.”

Ben Slade, who is from an educational charity that recruits military personnel that can help teach school children about character and resilience, said:

“I think businesses shouldn’t be considering [hiring veterans], they should just get on and do it.

“Because actually servicemen and women have so much to offer the workplace.”

Not everyone here has always been onside - when James McVicar’s employees told him they would need time off to train with the reserves, he blocked it.

James McVicar Employer Recognition Scheme 131118 CREDIT BFBS

“I didn’t understand any of it," he confessed.

“I didn’t understand reserves; I didn’t understand what being mobilised meant.

"Simple things, I had no idea. I was up in arms about the old thing and then ex-Group Captain Bob Kemp came to see me and he talked me round. So I’ve never looked back.”

Now, he says he is a firm advocate of the work they do.