Since 1984, Tony Langford has served John Smedley in a range of roles right up to the present day in the boardroom. For this and for taking on other industry responsibilities such as chairman of the British Knitting and Clothing Export Council (today the UK Fashion Exports), he received an OBE from the Queen in her 2010 New Year’s Honours List.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the superb efforts of everyone with whom I have worked at John Smedley mean they should all share in the honour for services to the knitwear industry,” Langford modestly insists. “We are a great company, and the fact that we remain a great company is due to the efforts of not just one or even a few but all of those who work at John Smedley. We have worked for the long term, to maintain standards and not chase fanciful short-term notions. That takes a special, proud partnership of all those stakeholders.”
The ceremony at which Langford will receive his OBE is later this year at Buckingham Palace. “At the beginning of last November I received a very official looking letter which I opened rather fearfully,” Langford now jokes. “I thought some branch of government must have caught up with me. They had, but rather pleasantly this was to tell me that I had been awarded an OBE.’
Custom is that those honoured are first invited to accept the public acclaim. Langford laughs: “Needless to say this was one of the easiestdecisions of my life. I immediately ticked the ‚’yes’ box and I think the letter was back in the post within an hour.” Langford’s turnaround of this correspondence is in contrast to the long, distinguished and ongoing service on which the award is based.