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10 April 2019

FSB recognises the small businesses who soldier on

A bee keeper; a broadband connection entrepreneur; the only retailer outside of Afghanistan selling the country’s rugs and a training provider - all owned and run by those who previously served in the Armed Forces - have been recognised by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), with special Honorary FSB Membership.

The membership will help these businesses who all won business of the year awards at the 2019 Soldiering On Awards held on 5 April.

Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, who presented the Business of the Year Community Impact Award, said:

“It’s an honour to recognise these incredible businesses that have all been started and are run by those who have previously served. Their stories are all inspiring. The Federation of Small Businesses is delighted to welcome them as new members, as part of our commitment to people from the military communities in the small business sector.

Ren Kapur MBE, FSB’s Armed Forces Champion and Co-Chair of the Soldiering on Awards, said:

Thank you to the Federation of Small Businesses for gifting special honorary membership to these Soldiering On Business Award winners. It’s fantastic to see FSB supporting the armed forces community, shining a light on these remarkable people in business and giving them access to a support system.”

The Honorary FSB Members from the Armed Forces community are:

  • Sinah Common Honey, Hayling Island, HampshireSoldiering On Business of the Year Community Impact Award winner (sponsored by Cisco):
    When he retired from a 32 year career in the military and police force, John Geden was suffering from complex-PTSD. Struggling to find civilian employment, he decided to turn his love of bee-keeping into a business and Sinah Common Honey was born. John now manages 200 hives, produces two tonnes of honey and runs beekeeping courses for veterans. He’s about to launch a cosmetic product, with the proceeds going to military charities.

  • The Afghan Rug Shop, Hebden Bridge – Soldiering On Business of the Year Community Impact Award highly commended (sponsored by Cisco):

    Owned by RAF veteran James Wilthew, The Afghan Rug Shop is the only retail shop outside of Afghanistan purely selling the country’s unique handmade rugs. James sources, imports and sells quality crafts and helps local weaving families to have sustainable incomes. He is the only UK retailer to be accredited with a Label-STEP licence for Fairtrade rugs. The Judges commended him for his international community impact, in supporting the Afghan families with whom he works.

  • UK Connect, Worplesdon, Surrey - Soldiering On Business of the Year Scale Up Award (Sponsored by London Stock Exchange Group):
    UK Connect Ltd was founded by former Soldier PJ Farr to provide broadband connectivity to previously unconnected locations, such as new building sites. Realising the battlefield is better connected than some areas of the UK, he started his business with just £1000. It has undergone exceptional growth, become an industry leader, secured contracts with FTSE 100 companies and is now turning over more than £4-million.

  • Network Training Partnership, Margaretting, Essex - Soldiering On Business of the Year Start Up Award (Sponsored by Sage):  Network Training Partnership provides integrated training and recruitment solutions to the automotive, logistics and recovery industries with an additional focus on supporting the veteran community. All instructors are ex-military and Network Training Partnership provides free training and access to jobs.

Membership of FSB gives business owners access to the UK’s most respected small business group and a range of vital benefits from business banking and access to finance, to legal advice and networking events.

The 2019 Soldiering on Awards were held at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge on Friday 5 April. The event was hosted by TV personality Carol Vorderman MBE, who is an Honorary Group Captain in the RAF and former Royal Marine JJ Chalmers.