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MBE for UK Docks founder

UK Docks’ founder and chairman Harry Wilson has been made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to the country’s marine engineering industry.

Harry was named in the King’s Birthday Honours List for 2024 and will travel to Buckingham Palace to pick up his award later this year.

The award recognises Harry’s contribution to the marine industry since founding UK Docks on a single slipway in South Shields in 1992.

In 2014 Harry saw the opportunity to expand the company’s ship repair facilities to Teesside, an area of high unemployment, and regenerated the dry docks which had been unused for more than 20 years and required complete refurbishment.

Since then, the company has expanded further with facilities at Mashford Yards in Cremylll, Cornwall, Victoria Quay in Gosport and Royal Clarence Yard in Portsmouth.

The company employs more than 200 people with one of the key driving forces behind the growth being Harry’s desire to regenerate areas of industrial decline and give something back to the community, including creating jobs.

“He’s got a great reputation in our industry and he’s responsible for what this company has grown into today.”

Jonathan Wilson

“The object of the exercise, after founding UK Docks and being able to make a living out of it, was to genuinely put something back into the ship repair industry,” said Harry.

“I’d had a pretty decent life from it, not necessarily an easy one, but a decent one and I believed in the industry and its potential and wanted to see it do well.”

He added: “I’m pleased to see that UK Docks has been able to grow over the years, developing dockyards in the North East and now all around the country, helping the marine industry to survive and flourish and create hundreds of jobs for the company and its supply chain that might not otherwise have been there.”

The day-to-day running of the business is now managed by Harry’s sons Chris, Gary and Jonathan.

“It was Harry who had this vision of developing ship repair and re-opening yards at a time when so many others were closing and he’s been proven right in his decision-making time after time,” said Jonathan.

“He’s got a great reputation in our industry and he’s responsible for what this company has grown into today.”

In addition to his work with UK Docks, Harry is a long-time supporter of South Shields Sea Cadets. UK Docks carries out a range of services including refits and repairs to commercial, defence and leisure boats.

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