A Warwick businessman is celebrating after his manufacturing firm won a coveted royal award.
Simon Rothwell’s company Flexmort won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation, an award only given to businesses which have great commercial success from new ideas.
This award gives us the royal seal of approval, and it has come as a huge boost to all the staff.Simon Rothwell
He said: “This award gives us the royal seal of approval, and it has come as a huge boost to all the staff.”
A former police officer and Warwick University graduate, Simon founded Flexmort in 2010 and turnover at the company has consistently doubled year-on-year.
The company manufactures a range of products, including cooling systems for the deceased which help grieving families deal with their loss.
Simon launched the company after a chance remark by his brother-in-law that UK hospitals were struggling to cope with a rise in obesity, meaning many bodies were too large for traditional mortuary refrigerators.
This led him to develop a range of cooling units which would allow a body to be stored anywhere, including a bed, trolley or coffin, without the need for a cold room.
The use of such equipment, especially for babies, is now considered best practice and is used in 95 per cent of British hospitals and half of all hospices in the UK.
Simon said: “We recognised that mortuaries were inefficient because a whole room had to be kept at a certain temperature, regardless of how many bodies were being stored. They were also stark and impersonal, and not designed with the family of the deceased in mind.
“We saw a gap in the market which would help the bereaved and would be beneficial to hospitals, hospices, funeral firms and even governments.
“We developed a number of products which have revolutionised the cooling and care of the deceased within the UK and beyond.”
As a former police officer, he had also witnessed first-hand the trauma suffered by bereaved parents having to see their child in a mortuary.
The entrepreneur came up with a solution now widely used on maternity wards – the CuddleCot which has been featured in national newspapers, on radio, and even on soap opera EastEnders during a storyline about a stillbirth.
A cooling pad is placed in a cot, allowing a baby to be kept in a room with the parents for longer, rather than having to be moved to a mortuary.
The business also provides mobile mortuary domes, which can be put up quickly in the event of a catastrophe. The Irish government has already purchased one.
Simon will be presented with his award by the Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire. He will also attend a reception hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace later this year to honour the award winners.