Richard Bridgman, skills champion and founder of Thetford engineering business Warren Services, has been awarded an OBE for services to training young people in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours list. The 70-year-old businessman is well-known in the East Anglian business community and nationally for his work promoting apprenticeships, improving work experience and job opportunities often for the long-term unemployed.
Richard is an active member of the New Anglia LEP Skills Board and is a STEM Ambassador and Enterprise Advisor to Thetford Academy as part of the New Anglia Enterprise Adviser Network. He is also a member of the Norfolk County Council Skills Group, EEF Regional Board in East Anglia and is a government Apprentice Ambassador. He was East of England chairman at SEMTA, the Sector Skills Council for Manufacturing, until 2010.
In an engineering career spanning five decades, Richard has sought to help young people reach their potential. After completing a toolmaking apprenticeship in Kingston he worked for a local engineering company for 22-years, then in 1990 with wife Sharon he founded Warren Services in Feltwell, Norfolk. The business relocated to the Fisons Estate in Thetford in 2005 where it opened a second factory in 2014. He has helped train many apprentices at the company over the last 28-years, many of whom still work here.
Bury St Edmunds resident Richard believes the value of work experience to young people and business is seriously overlooked. He said: “I believe I have worked hard outside my company to champion high quality training for young people. To be recognised for this with an OBE is just fantastic and a very great honour.”
For the past eight years he has worked closely with the DWP in Norfolk and Suffolk to identify novel ways of providing the unemployed with jobs. “I work very closely with DWP on giving work experience and job opportunities to NEETs [people Not in Employment, Education or Training], and many have been given a job or that vital experience to making them job ready,” he said.
Harry Haskew, a higher level apprentice at Warren Services, said “Being an apprentice for Warren Services has given me the opportunity to learn and progress new skills in a varied engineering environment. Richard is always keen to hear about how I’m getting on and it’s clear that he is very passionate about apprenticeships.”