THE Birmingham manufacturer of Britain’s newest war medal was today facing huge competition to retain its contract with the Ministry of Defence.
Jewellery Quarter badge makers, Gladman and Norman, whose sister company Worcestershire Medals holds a Royal Warrant to the Queen, designed and made the inaugural Elizabeth Cross medals.
Introduced earlier this month, the hallmarked silver honour is awarded to families of servicemen and women who have died on operations or as a result of an act of terrorism.
But after more than a year’s work in designing and crafting the medal, the company is in the middle of a fight to hold on to the prestigious deal.
The contract to manufacture the award went out to tender earlier this year and it is believed that around five other companies have put in bids.
Phil McDermott, who owns Gladman and Norman, said: “This is the first time since 1940 that the monarch has given her name to any award.
“We were given a very tight brief and we eventually came up with 12 designs that were presented to Her Majesty.
“Along with the Chiefs of Defence staff, she chose which design she wanted.
“It has been a real privilege to make these medals and we now want to keep that honour in Birmingham.
“It would be a great contract to win.
“We have already proven that we can deliver the medals to the highest quality so we hope this will give us that slight advantage we need.
“But we are going through exactly the same process as everybody else so we will just have to wait and see.”
Among the first orders to come in to the factory was for the families of Midland soldiers Rifleman Joseph Murphy, Corporal Jonathan Horne, and Rifleman William Aldridge.
The first batch of medals, which are being made by Gladman and Norman until the tendering process is completed, will be presented to the next of kin of soldiers from Saturday.
Designer Dayna White, who has worked in the trade for more than 20 years, said: “Because the brief was so tight there was only a certain amount I could do.
“But it was still a lengthy process and the designs had to keep going backward and forward.
“In the end it was whittled down from about 15 or so designs to a shortlist of six which were actually made.
“The Queen wanted to be able to see the medals and hold them before deciding which was the one she wanted. It was only near the end that I was told that the medals were for the families of soldiers killed in action.”