4 January 2015

Since the news about my MBE came out on New Year’s Eve, I have been inundated with messages from people congratulating me, so it felt appropriate to use today’s blog post to respond.

Firstly, thank you so much to whoever nominated me. I’m still in shock. As a business person, it’s so easy to become tunnel visioned, but when you get a moment like this and you can raise your head above the ground and just enjoy that – well, this is one of those great moments and one I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.

In the weeks running up to the Le Farinet opening, I have to admit to becoming a bit tunnel visioned. The team there have worked exceptionally hard and, partly because of this, I felt driven to achieve the ideas we’d come up with by the deadline we’d set ourselves. Once I get the bit between my teeth – well – anyone who knows me will tell you the outcome of that.

However, when I see the smile on my wife’s face now we’re over the hardest part of the climb, I know that the view was absolutely worth it. The next part is bringing some of the UKFast team out here, as well as friends and family, to spend some time together and get dreaming even bigger for the next challenge.

 If anyone thought there was any rest coming for me now, think again, because receiving an honour like this has just re-motivated me. It’s an emotional moment to receive something like this from the government, the Queen and country, and it has reminded me there’s still so much more to do. When I look at some of the people with MBEs who I know personally, I’m in great company – James Timpson and Tom Bloxham, for example. I’ve definitely learned from both of them over the years. Both are great leaders; incredibly patient, and a real credit to British business.

Reflecting on the past twenty or so years brings a knot to my stomach and a lump to my throat. There have been so many turning points in the road, so many surprises and challenges to contend with. What a journey! I regularly have to do a double take these days, as in my mind I am still a kid from Denbigh, who loves the great outdoors. I’m still learning so much even now. Maybe I’m just a big kid, just more focussed now.

So, what have I learnt along the way? Well, first of all, dismiss people at your peril. Whether they’re the young boy sweeping the floor or the head of a huge corporation, it makes no difference. You have to really look into a person’s eyes to get an idea of who they are and what drives them. Titles and qualifications mean nothing when it comes to passion and potential.

Secondly, try not to manage expectations, be they your own or those of your children. Whenever you hear that voice in your head that says, “It won’t work” or the one out loud, saying no, check yourself. Ask why. Some of the greatest discoveries in life (and, I’m willing to bet, many of our fondest memories) were made when someone challenged their own limiting beliefs and started saying yes.

I’d be here forever if I wrote down all the lessons I’ve learnt so far, but I’ll leave you with one more, and that’s how important it is to accept people’s support and advice. When I was younger, I never used to want help from anybody; I was very independent and left home at sixteen. Yet it was only when I started accepting help from others, and helping them in return, that I learnt the value of collaboration.

So, as nice as it is being recognised with an MBE, I see it as an award for the whole team back at UKFast. Without them, I’d have been overwhelmed well before now; they’re like the company’s life support system, all running their own area of the business.

And, as always, thank you Gail and my 3 wonderful daughters, Tegan, Poppy and Coco, for giving me the energy and reason to want to make a difference.

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