Tuesday 27th June 2023 was a momentous day not only for the ProtectaPet team, but also its surrounding community of cat owners, customers, supporters, friends, family and for Staffordshire.
ProtectaPet Communications Director and Co-founder, Dr Eve Davies, was invited to attend a reception held by HM King Charles III at Buckingham Palace for recipients of The King's Award for Enterprise 2023 - the highest official UK award for a British business to receive. The accolade is valid for five years and brings worldwide recognition for the company's pioneering approach to keeping cats safe outdoors.
ProtectaPet was founded in 2014 by husband-and-wife team, Eve and Simon Davies, following the tragic loss of their own cat, Lola, in a road accident. With the support of local dignitary, James Thomas Leavesley DL, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire, ProtectaPet applied for the Queen's Award last September. In April, they discovered that their application had been successful and the company would receive the first ever King's Award for Enterprise in Innovation.
Eve recalls her once-in-a-lifetime experience at Buckingham Palace:
‘I arrived at Buckingham Palace with Sara Williams, CEO of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, which is the only other Staffordshire business to win this year. When we arrived, we had to hand over our phones: no photographs were allowed at all. It all felt extremely strict as we walked past the grenadiers. They were mesmerising in their motionless, stationary positions. The King had requested to speak to businesses that offered sustainability or ecological benefits and I knew in advance that he had expressed an interest to find out more about ProtectaPet.
We were in Buckingham Palace for about two hours. I didn’t eat any of the canapes because I was too worried about getting poppy seeds stuck between my teeth! First of all, I noticed Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh, approaching me. I was stood next to a lovely lady called Jess, from Naturaw. When the Prince asked me what I had won for, I started to describe our concept and explain cat fencing. He was quizzing me on whether the idea was to keep cats in or keep them out. As I tried to explain the concept - by absolute incredible coincidence and fortune - Jess to my right said, “I’m actually a ProtectaPet customer. My cat was injured in a road traffic accident two years ago and he broke his pelvis. He survived, had surgery and made a full recovery. I purchased ProtectaPet fence barriers to keep my two cats safe.” As she said all of this, my jaw hit the floor because I couldn’t have written up a more amazing testimonial for our product in front of royalty! It wouldn’t have stood in great stead for me to explain the merits of our own idea. For a customer to be stood next to me at that time, explaining how much it changed their lives– that was incredible.
The room was rapidly filling up with the winners, people in official uniform, security guards and photographers. Cameras were flashing and I looked up to see the King's famous profile approaching. It was just one of those awe-inspiring moments because we are all so familiar with his face, but he was now within ten feet and coming closer. There were many people in the room desperate to speak to him but his official coordinator, dressed in a kilt, cleared the way towards me and a few others. First of all, he spoke to someone about thermal imaging on the moon, then the person next to me about biomass. Then it was my turn and he asked me about ProtectaPet. His perspective was from the merits of an ecological benefit. He explained how pleased he was that we are keeping cats in gardens and expressed his appreciation of the huge benefit to wildlife. I replied to say that “Yes, we know that our product has many wide-reaching benefits. We estimate that for every ProtectaPet garden, countless small mammals, birds and reptiles are protected every year. It’s really difficult to estimate, but it might be as many as a quarter of a million creatures every year that aren’t predated on.” The King replied “Well, that is outstanding." He really congratulated me and told me to “keep up the good work”. He shook my hand. The conversation was probably no longer than 40 seconds but my kneecaps were shaking! There was something really moving about that moment after years of hard work! It was an amazing experience.’
ProtectaPet Limited will be presented with the official crystal trophy and Grant of Appointment this autumn by The King’s representative, Ian Dudson, the Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire.
We are beyond proud of Eve and Simon for their unwavering dedication and vision for ProtectaPet. Those of you who know them on a personal level will know that they make a pioneering, caring, passionate and creative team, deserving of this recognition.