Simon Rothwell, managing director of Flexmort, was invited to the palace to celebrate his firm winning a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation. At the reception for winners of Britain’s most coveted commercial prize, he also spoke to Prince Philip, Princess Anne, Princess Eugenie and the Duke of Gloucester.
Simon said: “It was just superb. The Queen gave a bit of a smile when she described my business as ‘very different.’
“Prince Philip also had a great sense of humour. My line of business is always a bit difficult to explain to people, especially at parties. When I was chatting to Princess Anne, Prince Philip came past and told her ‘he’s the one who deals with dead people’ and they both had a laugh. We had a fantastic evening. It was very relaxed, with canapes and lots of champagne.”
The Queen’s Award recognises commercial success as a result of innovation. Since the business was established in 2010, turnover has doubled year-on-year.
Flexmort products are widely used by both the NHS, hospices and the funeral industry. Products vary from single-body cooling solutions to cold rooms, pop-up systems and traditional mortuary refrigeration capable of handling hundreds of deceased.
One of the company’s most successful products was developed due to Mr Rothwell’s experience as a former police officer. He witnessed the trauma suffered by bereaved parents having to see their child in the clinical setting of a mortuary.
His company came up with the CuddleCot, a gentler and more dignified solution. It is now used on maternity wards and has been featured in national newspapers, on radio, and even on EastEnders during a storyline about a stillbirth.
The palace visit followed a recent presentation at Flexmort’s premises. Dame Janet Trotter visited the Gloucester headquarters to formally hand over the award which the company will hold for the next five years. Also present at the ceremony was Gloucester MP Richard Graham and Gloucestershire County Council chief executive Peter Bungard.
Mr Graham said: “Flexmort is a great example of a company that sprang up almost by accident through some innovative thinking by an individual, Simon Rothwell. Whether it’s cooling systems for bodies, or enabling families to preserve their DNA, Flexmort is continuing to innovate in a way that will impact us all.”
Mr Rothwell said: “This award has come as a huge boost to me and all the staff who have worked tremendously hard to ensure our ground-breaking products are in demand around the world. We really appreciate the help of many AAPT members who worked with us in the early days as their input helped shape many of our product designs.”