Staff at a unique city based engineering business welcomed a special guest for a surprise visit this week.
Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, visited Westcombe Engineering on Monday along with Councillor John Holdich, the leader of Peterborough City Council, which owns the company.
Westcombe Engineering is a social enterprise which creates employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. It has had a highly successful past three years, experiencing 60 per cent growth and winning the Manufacturer of the Year (under £25m) category at last year's prestigious Made In Central & East England manufacturing awards.
The business was also included in the 2017 Parliamentary Review Publication, being cited as a best practice example in the manufacturing industry.
Ms Rudd’s staff contacted the company last week and she was given a guided tour by Andrew Lesiw, the company’s Managing Director and Elisa Bradley the company's Business Operations Manager.
Mr Lesiw said: “The Minister's visit came as a bit of a surprise, but we were both delighted and honoured to welcome her to our business. She went on a full site tour, where she was able to see at first hand the complex and varied work we carry out on a daily basis.
“The Minister took a real interest in the business operation and set time aside from her busy schedule to speak to our talented staff individually about their roles and responsibilities, which they all thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated. She also watched how various products are manufactured.
“We employ a highly skilled, talented and committed diverse workforce with a range of disabilities, thriving proof that disability is not a barrier for success. We want to continue to grow the business over the next two to three years and are also pursuing the possibility of new premises, so it's a really very exciting time.”
Councillor John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “We are immensely proud of Westcombe Engineering and the job that they do, so it was fantastic for them to showcase themselves to Amber Rudd. She was thoroughly impressed by the whole business operation model and said Westcombe was a credit to the city.
“Amber was also thankful for the support that the council has shown Westcombe Engineering over the years, which has enabled their unique business to flourish.”
Westcombe was set up in 1971 through the Health and Welfare Committee of Peterborough City Council to create employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities with the aim of providing them with a foundation from which to seek mainstream employment.
It was brought back under the control of the city council in 2009 and as a social enterprise, any money made by the company is reinvested back into the business and also the local economy.
Its products are supplied nationally and globally into various industry sectors such as, diesel engine components, agricultural, construction, electronics, food, marine, medical, fitness equipment, material handling equipment and oil and gas.