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Jamie Murray Wells, founder of Glasses Direct wins the Queen's Award for Enterprise

24th April 2009

Jamie Murray Wells, entrepreneur and founder of Glasses Direct will be named today as the youngest ever recipient of the Queen's Award for Enterprise. He is 26. He will be presented with the award on July 13th at Buckingham Palace.

Jamie founded his business five years ago as he was nearing the end of his English degree course at the University of the West of England in Bristol and found that he needed glasses. Shocked at the prices of glasses on the high street, Jamie launched his business from his parents home in Wiltshire using £1,000 left over from his student loan.

Selling glasses for £20 per pair did not exactly win him friends in the industry. Many of his suppliers came under pressure from rivals not to supply to him, but now the business is reckoned to sell a pair of glasses every couple of minutes and employs 70 staff in Swindon and London.

Jamie has used his experiences to try to encourage more young people to start their own businesses and has offered advice to both Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, and George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor. While he was chancellor, Gordon Brown, spoke about Glasses Direct in his keynote speech at Enterprise Week 2006. Jamie has judged several awards programmes for young entrepreneurs and is aiming to establish himself as a business angel.

Glasses Direct was among a record number of businesses applying for Queen's Awards for Enterprise. Winners are guaranteed a visit from a member of the Royal Family, often the Duke of York, who is the UK's special representative for international trade and investment. They can also use the award emblem for five years.

Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, said: “These inspirational firms have proved they are among Britain's very best businesses. They are flying the flag for British enterprise, innovation and corporate responsibility both here and abroad.”

A total of 1,078 companies took part in the awards, which recognise achievements in international trade, innovation and sustainable development; 194 awards were granted - the highest number in the 44 years that the programme has run.

Other winners included JCB, Flowcrete and Exclalibur Screwbolts a company whose first customer 18 years ago was Buckingham Palace. A survey of last year's winners found that 77per cent believed that the award had given their business added commercial value and 57per cent of those who had won the international trade award found increased recognition overseas.

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