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24th September 2010

Checkmate Group Receives Second Queen’s Award

Checkmate Group has received a second Queen’s Award which was presented by His Royal Highness The Duke of York on Tuesday 21st April 2009 The Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2008 for pneumatic dunnage to restrain marine cargoes.

Wiltshire and Kent based manufacturer The Checkmate Group have been honoured with a second prestigious Queen’s Award for Innovation, four years after receiving their first award, for export achievement. This second award has been given for the development of a new type of rubber air bag, which is used to secure cargo in the holds of ocean going ships. The product was designed in house and is made by their specialist engineering division, Checkmate Flexible Engineering LLP in Melksham, Wilts. Engineering and operating-use challenges had to be overcome and the result is a cargo securing system which has a unique filling method and can be linked to a manifold to ensure constant pressure regardless of climatic changes as cargo transits in ships across the world. The air bags are used to prevent movement in large block cargoes. The ships are large break bulk open hatch vessels (50,000 tonnes) and their cargoes are usually timber, wood pulp, hard board, and various types of steel and aluminium.

The Checkmate Group were delighted to welcome HRH The Duke of York to their factory in Melksham where he was given a guided tour of the factory and presented the Queen’s Award to Richard Berry, the longest serving member of staff at Checkmate UK with 45 years of service. Tom Roach, Director of Checkmate Flexible Engineering LLP said: “This tremendous news is of great credit to the skill of our staff and their dedication to quality. We have a company culture which thrives on finding innovative solutions to problems. As a consequence our order book is in a good state and the whole team is proud to be part of British manufacturing.”

HRH The Duke of York spent a considerable amount of time meeting the staff on the factory floor and seeing the different products manufactured on the site. He talked to the employees about the different processes, standing on the finished product to test its durability. He was particularly interested in the award winning air bags due to his naval experience.

HRH The Duke of York was given a preview today, 21st April, of the Anaconda Wave Energy Converter ahead of its official launch on May 5th in Portsmouth. He was deeply interested in the presentations made by the team led by Chief Executive Des Crampton about the technology behind this innovative new concept and asked a number of questions about the components. He was very keen to be kept informed about the development of Anaconda. Paul Auston, Chairman of Checkmate, said: ‘I think the visit went really well and it was a great event. Prince Andrew seemed to be really interested in what we are doing and in the potential of Anaconda to generate renewable energy from sea waves not just in the UK but around the World.’ The positive effect upon future job creation within Britain and the wider export opportunities were not lost on His Royal Highness.

HRH The Duke of York was welcomed by Tom Roach and made a speech emphasising the importance of awards such as these in recognising British manufacturers and, in particular, the work of the whole team. He said ‘Ladies and Gentlemen just to say congratulations. Giving out awards is a great pleasure for me. These awards are not just for the people at the top but to remind people that it is for the entire team of people who work here.’ He then presented the award Richard ‘Henry’ Berry. The guests attending the day were delighted to have the chance to meet HRH The Duke of York, one little girl in particular whose father works in the factory.

Also attending the presentation were some students from the engineering department at Wiltshire College who were invited to see, first hand, this industry leader and were inspired by their award winning achievements in manufacturing. They were able to see how Checkmate engineers adapted the unique properties of rubber into this award winning and globally successful cargo restraint system. After the day the students and staff sent ‘a particular thank you to Tom Roach who gave them an excellent tour of the factory with clear technical information that was suited to their young enquiring minds’. They said ‘The visit by the NDLBT3 to Checkmate Flexible Engineering was an excellent visit for the students. Mr Tom roach gave us an in depth presentation of the companies structure, included in his presentation he explained design concepts, products produced, the importance of design and innovation of new ideals, along with being at the forefront of new products. This was then followed by a tour of the factory during which Tom spent a lot of time explaining their products construction, testing and manufacturing processes. We were then taken around the Checkmate Seaenergy Project, The Anaconda Wave Energy Converter. The Anaconda has been developed at Melksham and it is an entirely novel concept to harvest wave energy. The students got an excellent insight into this new form of harnessing natural energy.’