UWE alumnus receives Queens' Award for Enterprise

Issue date: 22 April 2009

UWE alumnus, James Murray Wells UWE graduate James Murray Wells, aged 26, is the youngest person ever to be named on the Queen's Birthday list of Awards for Enterprise. Recommended to the Queen by Prime Minister Gordon Brown for his services to enterprise, Jamie Murray Wells has been awarded The Queen's Award for Enterprise Promotion (QAEP) – the UK's most prestigious award. He will be presented with an engraved chalice and Grant of Appointment at a reception hosted by Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace on 13 July.

In 2004 Jamie Murray Wells started Glasses Direct from his parent's sitting room at the age of 21, while still a student at the University of the West of England (UWE,Bristol). His business, now approaching its fifth birthday, sells a pair of glasses every few minutes around the clock, with sales now over 250,000 pairs, and saving the UK public in excess of an estimated £30 million on their prescription glasses.

Despite founding and driving his company to become the world's largest online retailer of prescription glasses, Jamie has also found the time to help other people make it in business, using the experience he has had bringing his business from the bedroom to the boardroom. Enterprise promotion to students, budding businessmen, FTSE 100 executives, underprivileged, SMEs, schools, universities, and cabinet politicians alike has been a top priority throughout his journey so far, where other entrepreneurs might have focused single-mindedly on their business instead.

Jamie Murray Wells, Founder of www.glassesdirect.co.uk said “When I opened the letter detailing the Prime Minister's decision to nominate me to the Queen for this award, I was overwhelmed. It is an honour that is so relevant to the work I do on a daily basis. Working with other young and aspiring business people, whether in my role as a judge, mentor, speaker, media commentator, advisor or investor, is exhilarating and this award inspires me to continue helping our country extend the ladder that I myself climbed up, to other budding entrepreneurs.”

Jamie Murray Wells has dedicated significant amount of his time and energy to make enterprise promotion a top priority at such an early part of his career. His commitment to helping young entrepreneurs covers a wide variety of bases and comes in many different guises, including judging for awards programmes, mentoring schemes for the Times newspaper and Channel 4, speaking engagements, writing in newspapers and magazines, advisory roles to Government level, and seedcamp investment in new and emerging young entrepreneurs.

Jamie is to be guest speaker at the final of UWE's theBizIdea competition on 7 May when prizes will be awarded to budding student and staff entrepreneurs. For more information on theBizIdea, visit the website

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