OBE for Contamac’s founder and chairman, John McGregor

Most countries have a system of national honours that may be bestowed upon nationals of distinction.  The best known awards in the United Kingdom are those belonging to the Order of the British Empire, the most widely appointed of the British Orders of Chivalry, which consist of Knighthoods and four other classes.  The UK honours are ordered by Her Majesty the Queen twice a year, firstly the New Year Honours are announced on December 30th and these are followed by the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June.  The title OBE was originally a military honour, designed to reward service during World War 1, but has since evolved, with the inclusion in the 1960s of honours for services to Science and Technology.

The awards recognise people who have made an achievement in public life, committed themselves to serving and helping Britain or for innovation and entrepreneurship, establishing achievement in a specific field of work.  The OBE is a very prestigious award and only 211 were awarded in the 2018 New Year’s Honours.  John McGregor, Chairman of Contamac Ltd, was appointed as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the 2018 New Year’s Honours List and the citation reads, “Founder, Contamac. For services to International Trade and Innovation in Polymer Technology”.

John was delighted to receive such a prestigious honour which reflected his leadership of the company in achieving two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, one for International Trade and the second for Innovation.  He was however quick to emphasise that awards such as these are rarely as a result of a single person’s efforts and an OBE is a case in point. Contamac’s performance in international trade has come about partly as a result of having exceptional staff, who in every department of the company have worked as a team to provide excellent service to our customers worldwide, and additionally the support and loyalty Contamac enjoys from our customers, which is of course greatly appreciated.  The citation for innovation in polymer technology recognises that Contamac has for many years invested significant time and resource in developing materials for contact lenses, intraocular lenses and more recently in implantable diagnostic devices, and that investment continues.  John pointed out that the Award was the result of the input by staff past and present, so they should all be proud of their role and he expressed his gratitude to them all. 

Alan Pain, Regional Director, Department for International Trade, East of England, said: “The East of England is alive with innovative and enterprising companies, and Contamac is a perfect example of this. The Department for International Trade is here across the East of England to help companies of all sizes and in all sectors embark on their exporting journey.  From one-to-one support, to events and market visits, our specialised team of International Trade Advisers have real industry knowledge and a vast amount of export experience.”

John warmly acknowledged the support and assistance that Contamac has enjoyed over the years from the UK Trade and Industry Government Department, without whose assistance our export trading would have been less successful.  

Martin Senior, International Trade Adviser, Department for International Trade, said:  “We’ve been delighted to see Contamac’s international success over the last decade.  It’s a testament to their ambition, innovation and tenacity.  The company has grown year-on-year, leading them to be recognised with The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in both the International Trade and Innovation categories.  Whilst they are now experienced exporters, it has been wonderful to see their openness to exploring new, diverse markets, including India, Russia and China.  I nominated John for an Honour in the New Year’s Honours List as I believe his story is truly inspirational. Taking Contamac from a garden shed to a purpose-built factory employing over 80 people, whilst spending his ‘spare time’ on his charity work, makes him extremely well-deserving of the award.  I look forward to seeing what the future holds for John and Contamac.” John McGregor expressed his appreciation that it was the UKTI’s Department for International Trade’s nomination that lead to his appointment.