Tuesday 22nd February, 2011
The founder of ULTRAFRAME John Lancaster received the perfect start to 2011 – an honour from the Queen.
In Her Majesty's New Year Honour's list, John (68) received an MBE for helping the plight of poverty-stricken and HIV and Aids victims in South Africa.
And he dedicated the prestigious award to his wife, Rosemary, who he said had always been "remarkably supportive".
John set up Ultraframe in 1983 as a small local manufacturer of uPVC windows. Not long after starting in windows he received his first conservatory commission and finding no satisfactory roof system on the market, decided to make his own…and the rest is history. During the heady days of the late nighties and early noughties, the firm grew to be the market leader – eventually in 2006 the business was taken into the private ownership of the Latium Group.
Even during the heady days of rapid business growth, John had always dedicated time to local charity projects and he set up the Lancaster Foundation around the time the company floated in 1997.
Once dubbed "the most generous giver to charity in the United Kingdom" for donating a large percentage of his wealth to charity, he funded amongst other projects the Sparrow Rainbow Village, an Aids care facility for children and adults in South Africa. Today the Lancaster Foundation in just one project feeds over 6500 children per day, as well as providing housing and schooling. It has funded the building of two entire African villages, medical centres and even a hangar and three aircraft. The Lancaster Foundation has also invested over £5m in a listed cinema in John’s home town of Clitheroe, creating a state of the art theatre and music and Arts production facility for the youth of the town.
Today the Lancaster Foundation is headed day to day by ex-Ultraframe plc Technical Director Chris Richardson – in his role of Development Director it’s Chris’ job to broaden the charities project portfolio and ensure that the Foundations money is spent wisely.
Commented John on his surprise award, "I am humbled to receive this honour and give thanks to God for an amazing journey. When we decided to extend our charity work into Africa in 1998, our first trip proved to be an experience and our lives changed forever. To see at first hand the suffering and poverty, hearing stories of tremendous courage from living on the edge.
Our hearts were moved and we helped in the planning and building of the village.
"Sparrow Rainbow Village is now internationally recognised for the medical and loving care that has proved to extend dramatically the lives of HIV-affected children."
He added: "I want to publicly dedicate this honour to my wife Rosemary, as the charity is a joint commitment and without her total support in my life I could never have achieved the level of business success that has enabled us to transform our charity commitments."