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Congratulations to Richard Bridgman, founder of Warren Services and close partner of West Suffolk College, on being awarded the OBE for services to the training of young people.

Richard is well known for his tireless work promoting apprenticeships and providing work experience and job opportunities.

The Bury businessman works alongside the College to help promote relationships with local businesses and has worked with us on a range of training issues and standards.

He is currently supporting the College’s bid to be part of a new Institute of Technology, along with other colleges in the eastern region.

Laraine Moody, Vice Principal Employer Engagement, said : “We are delighted with our close working relationship with Richard and Warren Services which benefits not only apprentices but also the wider local economy.”

He was East of England chairman at SEMTA, the sector skills council for manufacturing, for many years until 2010. He is an active member of the New Anglia LEP Skills Board, the Norfolk County Council Skills Group, the EEF Regional Board, he is a government Apprentice Ambassador, STEM Ambassador and enterprise advisor to the local academy. Bridgman has earned a reputation “for giving 100%” and for his no-nonsense, straight talking style to get results.

In 1990, with his wife, he founded Warren Services in the Old Flint School in Feltwell, Norfolk, which relocated to the Fisons Estate in Thetford in 2005, where he redeveloped a 30,000 sq ft factory. In 2014 the business expanded to an additional 50,000 sq ft site nearby. The company has trained many apprentices through west Suffolk College over the years.

Now in semi-retirement, Richard heavily supports work experience for college and school students and for career change candidates. For the past eight years he has worked closely with the Norfolk and Suffolk DWP on novel ways of providing the unemployed with training and jobs

In 2015 the University of Suffolk awarded him an Honorary Fellowship.

“Many people have helped me throughout my business life and without their support and understanding I don’t think this award would have been possible. One of my personal dreams was to one day take my wife to a garden party at Buckingham Palace so this award tops that!”

He added: “Manufacturing in the UK has a great future but we must work to keep training standards high and give people of all backgrounds a chance to prove themselves.”