A Staffordshire widow who took over her late husband’s business after he was killed in a tragic skiing accident is the latest winner if the Birmingham Post Enterprise Award.
Stuart Davies established restoration masonry specialist Croft Building and Conservation in 2002 but was killed in an avalanche last December during a trip to the Austrian resort of Hintertux.
Marian, his wife of more than 20 years, accepted the award during a ceremony hosted by the Professional Golfers Association at The Belfry.
Judges said her story was one of the most inspirational they had come across in the 22 years the event has been running.
Following the accident, rather than sell the company she opted take it on herself and despite some difficult times during the past 10 months, the business is thriving.
“It has been a very personal time,” she said. “Stuart was the one that liked all the attention and loved being recognised for the work that he had done. I’m sure he would have been very proud to receive this award.”
Marian joined in 2004, initially as office manager. She had previously worked as a travel agent and as a store manager at WH Smith.
She moved the business to its new base in Hawks Green, Cannock, in March after abandoning the idea of setting up at a farmhouse location she and her husband had planned to make the family home. The company, which employs 110 people, specialises in restoration masonry and is helping to breathe new life into some of central England’s most historic buildings.
It is currently working on a £2.5 million contract to restore Stoke Rochford Hall, the home of the National Union of Teachers’ conferencing facilities in Grantham, Lincolnshire.
It is also working on a £385,000 project restoring the Choir South Clerestory at Lichfield Cathedral as part of the ‘once-in-a-century’ Inspires Project.
This is aimed at ensuring the historic cathedral and its treasures are properly cared for and restored for future generations to admire.
Due for completion in December, the company’s skilled tradesmen are working on the south side of the building, repairing and replacing the eroded stones on the pinnacles, buttresses, tracery windows and parapet as well as stone cleaning.
Work has also been carried out at Upton House, a 17th century mansion house in Banbury, and Harris Manchester College in Oxford.
The company is also bidding for a high profile tender in Bath and is expecting to hear the outcome soon. Croft, which takes its name from Marian’s home in the village of Norton Canes, now has a turnover of around £5 million.
“I want to do an extra £1 million this year and at the half way stage, we are exactly half way there so that’s very encouraging,” she said.
The main sponsors of Birmingham Post Enterprise Awards are Intercity Mobile Communications and Churchill Vintners in association with Laurent Perrier.
Flybe and Aston Business School provide further support and Aston Villa Football Club will be providing a corporate package. Advantage West Midlands co-sponsors the annual awards presentation event.