Martin Coles-Evans, managing director of family run department store Hargreaves & Sons in Buxton, Derbyshire, rubbed shoulders with King Charles, as well a retail expert Mary Portas and ‘Dragon’ Peter Jones, at a small business reception held at Buckingham Palace last week (16 November).
Martin received a gilt edged invitation to attend the event, to ‘recognise the contribution small businesses make to the society of Great Britain’. Accompanying the King and other royals at the reception were over 300 small business leaders from many industries.
As well as King Charles, Martin also met the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward, who showed an interest in the family business. Also in attendance were the Duke of Kent and the Duke of Gloucester.
“Shocked wasn’t the word, and I’m not ashamed to admit I felt quite emotional,” said Martin, explaining his surprise at receiving an invitation. “To be recognised in such a way by the very top, the pinnacle of society, felt overwhelming at first. In a year in which both the King and myself lost a much beloved parent – the late Queen and my own father – it felt very poignant.”
He continued: “When I learned that the reception was the first of its kind since the pandemic, and one of the first of the King’s new reign, I felt what an honour I had been given. I didn’t expect to actually meet him, but I was lucky enough to say we shook hands.
“I wished him a belated happy birthday, and he said ‘Oh, that was a very small affair, unlike this one’. He also asked me ‘how do you think we’ll get through this dreadful situation?’, referring to the current economic woes.”
Martin concluded: “Our family has never received such an honour before, and we are truly humbled and grateful, and will endeavour to champion the high street, independent retailers, and Buxton itself, even more.”
Hargreaves & Sons is Buxton’s premier giftware, homewares and kitchenware store.
Top: Martin Hargreaves, managing director of Hargreaves & Sons, was thrilled to receive an invitation to meet the King at Buckingham Palace.