A birthday honour for Fylde coast notables

Simon Rigby
Simon Rigby
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A businessman, lifeboat stalwart and champion of the homeless and vulnerable adults have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Serial entrepreneur Simon Rigby, from Wrea Green, has been awarded an MBE for services to industry in the north.

Martin Jaggs

Martin Jaggs

Also receiving an MBE is former Lytham St Annes Lifeboat coxswain and mechanic Martin Jaggs, now an RNLI operations manager, for services to maritime safety.

And there’s a British Empire Medal for Annabelle Lee, for Services to services to vulnerable adults and the homeless community in Blackpool.

Mr Rigby said he was delighted with his award.

He added: “I got a letter about a month ago about the MBE and it was a real surprise. I wondered if one of my friends was winding me up but it was from the Cabinet Office.

It is a reflection on the two and a half thousand people who work for the group as much as anything else

Simon Rigby

“The thing that has really pleased me is that it is for services to industry in the north.

“That means it is a reflection on the two and a half thousand people who work for the group as much as anything else. I hope they take it as a compliment to them.

“We have a variety of businesses on the Fylde Coast and across Lancashire and are proud to be here so it is great
to be recognised for what we do.

“I am delighted. It is a great honour and I would like to thank all the employees and everyone who made this possible.”

Simon was one of six children, raised on a 34-acre dairy farm in Warton. He attended Kirkham’s Carr Hill High School, St Annes College and Hull University. After graduating in 1983, he joined the Yorkshire Electricity Board as a Graduate Trainee (much to his parents delight), with whom he qualified as a Certified Accountant in 1987.

In 1996, Simon led the management buyout of the buildings and grounds maintenance services from Yorkshire Electricity to form Spice. Spice started with 12 employees and one contract in 1996 and by 2008 it employed 4,500 staff worldwide and turned over £400m. Spice floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2004 and entered the FTSE 250 in 2008. Simon was CEO of Spice plc until 2010.

Simon now owns a range of businesses including The Villa Group, Greengen, the Safehands Group and property specialists R Group.

He has been married to Linda for 31 years and has a son Nicholas, 24, and daughter Victoria, 17.

Martin Jaggs, long-serving coxswain and mechanic at Lytham St Annes Lifeboat Station until earlier this year, paid tribute to his RNLI colleagues after being awarded the MBE.

“The award has my name on it and I am very proud, but I couldn’t have achieved it without the RNLI team, especially the Lytham St Annes crew – so it as much for them as it is for me,” he said.

Martin, 50, left the St Annes boathouse in January to take up a new regional role as division operations manager of the new England Central Division of the RNLI.

That sees him in overall charge of 11 lifeboat stations from Lytham to Barrow on the West Coast and from the Humber to Scarborough on the East.

But he still lives in Lytham with wife Sharon, who is treasurer of the local fund-raising branch of the RNLI and daughter Amy, who turns eight on Monday – and calls back at the local boathouse as often as he can.

“When Sharon saw the letter telling me of the award she thought I was being fined or summonsed,” smiled Martin.

“Amy is a big fan of the Queen and will be thrilled at the prospect of a presentation ceremony. It’s extra special to have been given the award in Her Majesty’s 90th birthday year.”

Martin joined the volunteer lifeboat crew at St Annes in 1988 and became second assistant mechanic four years later.

With the retirement of Tony West in 1995, Martin was promoted to station mechanic, becoming the station’s one full-time employee, all the rest being volunteers

In 1999, he was additionally appointed coxswain, in itself a volunteer position, meaning he was not only in command of the lifeboat when she was at sea but had many other commitments regarding the welfare of the crew and dealing with the general public as a senior representative of the station.