A group photo of this year's ERS Gold 2023 Award winners. Representatives from the 14 winning organisations are holding their awards, smiling at the camera.

Fourteen organisations from across the wider West Midlands area attended an awards ceremony in Shropshire to receive their Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Gold Awards, recognising their exceptional level of support to the Armed Forces community.

Held at Lilleshall House and Gardens in Shropshire – also home to one of the UK’s National Sports Centres and the Royal British Legion’s Battle Back Centre – the awards were presented by Air Commodore Adam Sansom, Air Officer North England, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.

The winners included:

  • Cadent Gas
  • CODA Security Limited
  • Great Dawley Town Council
  • Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce
  • Orbit Group
  • Palletways (UK) Limited
  • Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land Limited
  • Severn Trent Water
  • Staffordshire County Council
  • Stoke-on-Trent City Council
  • Walk Talk Action CIC
  • West Mercia Search & Rescue
  • West Midlands Fire Service

The Gold Award is the Ministry of Defence’s highest level of award available to employers who have gone the extra mile to support the wider Armed Forces community within their workforce, and communities.

To win a Gold Award, organisations must provide ten extra paid days leave for Reservists and have supportive HR policies in place for veterans, Reserves, and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers, as well as spouses and partners of those serving in the Armed Forces.

Organisations must also advocate the benefits of supporting the Armed Forces community by encouraging others to sign the Armed Forces Covenant, and engage in the Employer Recognition Scheme.

This year 193 organisations were awarded the prestigious Gold Award nationally, making it a record-breaking year since the awards scheme launched.

Colonel Richard Maybery, Chief Executive at West Midland Reserve Forces & Cadets Association, commented: “It was such a pleasure to be at the National Sports Centre, which encompasses the iconic Battle Back Centre, a place which embodies the spirit of the Armed Forces Covenant.  A truly fitting place in which to mark the selfless commitment and huge enthusiasm of our Gold Award winners.  All of them are exemplars in  going above and beyond in their support for the Armed Forces community.

“I’d like to publicly thank all the winners once again on behalf of Defence, and to say how much, as an Association, that we look forward to continuing to build on our relationship with them.”

ERS Gold 2023 winner Orbit Group, receive their award from Air Commodore Sansom. They are shaking hands and holding the award, smiling at the camera.

Francis Burrows, Director of Support and Service Development from Orbit said: “We are really proud to be part of the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme and to receive this highest possible accolade for our support of the Defence and Armed Forces communities who sacrifice so much in the service of their country. As a purpose-led and inclusive organisation, we’re committed to providing opportunities to members of the Armed Forces who can offer a wealth of skills and support our values.

“Orbit demonstrates this commitment through its work with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) who provide job opportunities to veterans and by advertising vacancies which match the skill set of those who’ve left the Armed Forces, on their portal. Reservists are also supported with its ‘time off policy’, enabling colleagues to have time away from the business to carry out any required training without using their allocated annual leave.”

Orbit signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant in 2017 and went on to receive their ERS Silver Award in July 2022.

Jennifer Sibbald-Wall, Serco’s Contract Manager for the facility, added: “As Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award holders, Serco is proud to host the ERS West Midlands event at Lilleshall National Sports Centre, home of the Royal British Legion’s Battle Back Centre.

“Congratulations to all the winners on the night. I hope you enjoyed the hospitality that this impressive venue was able to offer.”

The awards ceremony also welcomed members of the Invictus Games’ Team UK, who shared their experiences and how the power of sports and the Games have played an important part in their lives and inspiring recovery. The 2023 Invictus Games in Dusseldorf supported 59 veterans and serving personnel within Team UK.

Support on the night also came from Reservists from No. 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Reserves, with music from the RAF Salon Orchestra and the Regimental Band and Corps of Drums of the Royal Welsh (Reserves).

The Royal British Legion’s Battle Back Centre based at Lilleshall supports wounded, injured and sick service personnel, whether it is returning to duty or successfully transitioning to civilian life. The centre also provides programmes for veterans and their families. To date over 8000 serving or ex-service personal have attended the centre since it opened in 2011.

To find out more about the Employer Recognition Scheme and how your business can benefit from supporting the Armed Forces community.

View a list of organisations who have signed the Armed Forces Covenant nationally.


Published 28/11/23