A MANUFACTURER with hundreds of staff in Southampton has been hailed a “UK business hero” and saluted by royalty.

Leonardo was among the firms praised by the British Chambers of Commerce for supporting their local communities during the coronavirus crisis.

Leonardo employs more than 7,500 people across the UK, including more than 400 people at First Avenue in Millbrook Industrial Estate, Southampton.

The company was named a UK Business Hero for its work to deliver key capability to the Armed Forces’ current and future programmes, as well as for supporting their transportation of personnel and supplies around the country in response to the pandemic.

Its staff were also commended for their dedicated production of protective equipment for the NHS, which they completed in their own time in addition to their daily duties.

The initiative has been supported by Sophie, Countess of Wessex.

In a letter to the recognised Business Heroes, she wrote: “It has been a particular pleasure to hear stories of how you have supported your local communities throughout the outbreak and to see you nominated as UK Business Heroes by your local Chamber of Commerce.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your positive contributions, congratulate you on your recognition as a UK Business Hero and wish you every success in your endeavours in the weeks and months ahead as we look to the recovery of our country.”

Leonardo, which did not put any staff furlough during the Covid-19 crisis, has seen demand for its apprenticeships double this year.

It has also been urging former engineers to return to the workplace.

Norman Bone, chair and managing director of Leonardo UK, said: “During these exceptional times our employees have repeatedly stepped up in the face of challenges.

“We’ve adapted quickly to dramatically changing circumstances in order to continue to provide the technology and capability that our Armed Forces have relied on in their tireless efforts throughout this crisis.

“I am intensely proud our people’s dedication and commitment: not just to our customers, but to those in the communities in which they live and work across the country.”


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