Richard Bridgman, founder of Thetford Engineering firm Warren Services, has been awarded an OBE in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for the training and development of young people in the engineering industry. Throughout his 28 years of operating Warren Services, Richard has worked tirelessly alongside the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), promoting apprenticeships and providing work experience and job opportunities.

Throughout his career, Richard has contributed to many organisations across East Anglia, earning a reputation for giving 100% and utilising a no-nonsense, straight to the point conversation style. Among the positions held, Richard has contributed to the New Anglia LEP Skills Board, the Norfolk County Council Skills Group, the EEF Regional Board as well as being a government apprentice ambassador, STEM ambassador and enterprise advisor to the local academy.

Upon receiving notification of his award, Richard stated: “I like to consider myself a modest person and have always tried to put others first, especially young people, but I am delighted and very proud of this award. I believe I have worked hard outside my business to champion high quality training for young people. To be recognised for this with an OBE is just fantastic and a very great honour.”

The company’s apprenticeship scheme has been praised by many employees, many of whom still work there, and in 2014, was voted by peers into the “Top 100 of Inspiring Manufacturers” in The Manufacturer Magazine. As well as being praised inhouse by his workforce, Richard has been praised by educational establishments, being awarded an Honorary Fellowship in 2015 at the University of Suffolk.

Richard’s vision to provide apprenticeship opportunities was not short of setbacks however. Ten years ago, Bridgman tried to establish his own in-house training school at Warren Services due to the existing low quality local training providers, but the plan was derailed by government cuts and bureaucracy. Today, Bridgman continues to work alongside educational organisations, providing opportunities for future generations. For the previous eight years, he has worked with Norfolk and Suffolk DWP as well as West Suffolk College, supporting the college’s bid to be a new Institute of Technology, a Department for Education programme to create 10 institutes nationwide, which he believes is key to the region.

Warren Services is now chaired by Richard’s son William, who also heads the Thetford Manufacturing Group, a consortium of like-minded organisations who are committed to see best practice, business collaboration & economic development prosper locally by drawing on the rich experiences of local sector businesses.