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Last Updated: Monday, 21 April, 2003, 00:49 GMT 01:49 UK
Queen honours UK enterprise
Aston Martin Vanquish
Aston Martin was one of the companies honoured for its exports
A purveyor of lentils and a provider of frozen marine worms are among two recipients of this year's Queen's Award for Enterprise.

A total of 123 companies were recognised in three categories - international trade, sustainable development and innovation.

The Queen's Awards have been running in some incarnation since 1966. Businesses apply, and winners are recommended by an advisory panel of politicians, business figures and trade unionists.

In what might be a sign of tough times for Britain's manufacturing industry, fewer companies won awards in the international trade category than in any year since 1974.

Winning companies ranged in size from those employing four to BT Group, which has a workforce of 108,600.

Seabait Ltd, Northumberland: For culture of marine worms as bait
Seaview Hotel & Restaurant, Isle of Wight: For corporate social responsibility
Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects, Somerset: For sustainable architecture
Fresh Catch Ltd, Peterhead: for export of pelagic and white fish

Several were household names, including Rolls-Royce, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Aston Martin Lagonda.

But some were tiny, such as Worthington-Richardson Designs - based in rural Pembrokeshire - whose four staff make surgical gloves designed to minimise the risk of cross-infection.

More than half (54%) were first time winners, while 11% of the awards were given to current Queen's Award holders.

ICI scooped their 70th Queen's award for a lubricant which reduces ozone-depleting emissions in fridges.

A lightweight silicon gyroscope from BAE Systems was one of the winners in the innovation category.

Another innovation winner was a new device that help mothers at risk of losing their unborn babies be monitored at home, from Cardiff's Huntleigh Healthcare.

Processes dried lentils for export
Employs five people
Has trebled exports in six years
Delivers to 70 countries
Works with food aid organisations such as UN's World Food Programme
Says team is "highly motivated and hard-working"

Marks and Spencer was also recognised in the innovation category for its range of machine washable tailored men's clothing.

And PayPoint was awarded an innovation award for its handling of the congestion charge payments made throughout the country.

In the international trade category, winners varied from an exporter of food and drink hampers to a provider of frozen worms.

Seabait Limited, based in Northumberland, won both the international trade and sustainable development award for its provision of frozen marine worms for use as aquaculture feed.

Sustainable business park

Award organisers described the creatures as: "a genuinely innovative product, competing with unregulated collection of wild worms".

A producer of ornamental plasterwork and scagliola - a 17th century art form which died out in the early 20th century - was also recognised.

Finally, in the sustainable development category, a palliative care hospice and a family-run hotel on the Isle of Wight were just two of the winners.

Greenham Common Community Trust received an award for the development of a sustainable business park on the former US air base near Newbury.

The BBC's Brian Milligan
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