UK exporters, innovators and business leaders honored with 2023 New Year’s Honors

Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch today congratulated UK business leaders, exporters and Department for International Trade staff who have been honored for their service excellence in international trade, investment and exports.

The winners represent a wide variety of businesses, from companies exporting technology that supports people with special educational needs and disabilities around the world, to business leaders supporting a range of industries from fintech to construction and maritime.

Trade Minister Kemi Badenoch said:

Trade drives economic growth, creates jobs and supports businesses and communities across the country. Our fantastic exporters and dedicated trade officers have made this a reality and it’s fantastic to see them get the recognition they deserve.

2023 is full of opportunity as we continue to leverage our newfound freedoms, reach new markets and help businesses sell their products globally.

Exporters and business leaders recognized in the 2023 New Year’s Honors List include:


  • Richard Graham MP, Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Indonesia, ASEAN Economic Community, Malaysia and the Philippines, responsible for Southeast Asia trade and investment services.


  • John (‘Jack’) Gerard Averell Spencer Churchill, Co-Founder and Executive of Scanning Pens Ltd, serving international trade and the dyslexia and special educational needs and disability communities.
  • Toby Jonathan Sutton, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Scanning Pens Limited, serving international trade and the dyslexia and special educational needs and disability communities.
  • Sharon Kaur Jandu is founder and director of the Yorkshire Asian Business Association, which provides services to international trade.
  • Alison Lyons, for the Ministry of International Trade and People with Disabilities.
  • Fintech Scotland Executive Chairman Stephen Leonard Ingledew on the services of establishing a fintech sector in Scotland.


  • Julianne Ponan, owner of Creative Nature, an allergen-free food brand for corporate, export and allergy sufferers.
  • Iain Mackinnon, former secretary of the Maritime Skills Alliance for education and skills in the maritime sector.
  • Thomas Richard Chant, CEO of the Maritime Industries Association, for his services to the maritime industry.
  • Robert Geoffrey Oliver, most recently Chief Executive of the Construction Equipment Association, covering UK manufacturing, construction and UK exports.
  • Paula Boast, Deputy Chair, UK Business Forum Bahrain, for UK-Bahrain business relations.

Department of International Trade (DIT) employees recognized in the 2023 New Year’s Honors List include:


  • Neil Feinson, Deputy Director, Trade in Goods, DIT, International Trade Services and Diversity and Inclusion in the Civil Service
  • Ilaria Regondi, Country Director for France and DIT’s Deputy European Trade Commissioner, for his strategic role in export and investment projects worth billions of pounds, and for securing vital healthcare supplies from France during the pandemic.


  • Dr Joanne Lawson, DIT’s Deputy Head of Procurement and Intellectual Property for Trade in Services, led the UK’s accession to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement.
  • Dr Sian Thomas, Chief Data Officer, DIT, for international trade, investment and cross-government data standards

In addition to the DIT-nominated honorees, the following trade professionals were honored:

  • Dr Linda Yi-Chuang Yueh, Research Fellow in Economics, St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford, Adjunct Professor of Economics, London Business School, Member, Trade Council, Service to Economics
  • Lesley Batchelor OBE, Export Champion and Entrepreneur for International Trade
  • William Alan Beckett, Chair, International Trade Forum.Serving Manufacturing and Exporting
  • Helen Grant MP, MP for Maidstone and Nigeria’s Weld and Trade Envoy for Political and Public Service
  • Dr Graham Harold Gudgin, for Economic Development in Northern Ireland

approved recipient

Exporters and business leaders recognized on this list include co-founders John (“Jack”) Churchill and Toby Sutton, both of whom received OBEs for international trade and services to people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Over the past 20 years, Jack Churchill (who was himself dyslexic) and Toby Sutton built an assistive technology powerhouse at the center of the dyslexic and special needs community. Scanning Pens is an organization that provides portable text-to-speech pen scanners that empower young and adult readers by giving them instant access to printed text anywhere. Thousands of schools, workplaces and prisons now use this assistive technology every day. The organization has been active in the UK and over 100 countries over the years. More than 50% of the company’s business is international trade, and currently has offices in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and India.

Jack Churchill and Toby Sutton, co-founders of Scanning Pens Ltd, said:

To say we are honored by this announcement would be an understatement. When we first started this business over 20 years ago, we saw an opportunity to build a business that could help millions meet their literacy needs. Looking back, it’s awesome to know that we have enabled so many people to be successful through our technology.

The success of Scanning Pens has allowed us to start a goodwill organization, Succeed With Dyslexia, which has made it possible for us to hope to spread awareness about dyslexia through positive stories in this often forgotten community.

None of us would have received our OBE today without the support of our family and the entire team. We look forward to many years to come, moving our business forward while helping more people in their everyday lives.

Julianne Ponan – MBE for services to businesses, exports and allergists.

Allergy activist and award-winning businesswoman Julianne Ponan has been awarded for her work in educating others about the risks, dangers and realities of allergies and anaphylaxis. The recognition is part of her ambition to run Creative Nature, a successful top 14 allergen-free snack business in the highly competitive food and beverage industry. Now in its 11th year, Creative Nature sells its products online through major retailers in the UK and exports to over 16 countries around the world. As an Export Champion in the Department of International Trade, Julianne helps other SMEs explore exports by sharing her skills and experience. Julianne is also an ambassador for the Anaphylaxis Campaign and MedicAlert, where she raises awareness of medical jewelry to provide life-saving information to health professionals during emergencies.

Creative Nature CEO Julianne Ponan said:

I am honored and humbled to be named MBE in the 2023 New Year Honors List. I am delighted to be listed as one of the many to be recognized for their active work to make our lives and our society better.

Living with allergies in our society is not easy. People like me feel isolated, excluded, and humiliated when we need to make sure that what we eat or drink is safe for us—and that may include what other people around us eat or drink.

My team and I are passionate about creating products that are safe to eat.

Stephen Ingledew – OBE for his services in setting up a fintech sector in Scotland.

Spanning four decades, Stephen’s career has established him as an influential advocate for making the financial world more open, creative and inclusive through innovative initiatives and progressive ways of working. In 2018 he formed and led FinTech Scotland, which is now recognized as one of the top fintech cluster management organizations in the UK and Europe. FinTech Scotland publishes ground-breaking research and innovation roadmaps and Stephen is one of the founders of the FinTech National Network, which facilitates collaboration between all regional fintech clusters in the UK. He is also a member of the UK Government’s Business Innovation Forum and the Scottish Government’s Innovation Steering Group, as well as Deputy Convenor of Strathclyde University Courts and Non-Executive Director of Smart Data Foundry.

Stephen Ingledew, Chairman of FinTech Scotland, said:

I am honored to receive an OBE in Financial Technology Services. To be recognized for doing something I am passionate about is incredible, and I want to take this opportunity to honor the many people who have provided me with invaluable support.

It is a great privilege to be at the heart of financial innovation, drawing on the expertise of all regions of the UK to grow the economy, attract inward investment and develop export opportunities, all of which further strengthen the UK’s position as a global fintech leader.

Sharon Jandu – OBE for services to international trade.

Sharon is an advocate for her community and international trade. She founded the Yorkshire Asian Business Association (YABA) in 2017 to put Asian Yorkshire businesses on the global map, with the aim of educating and promoting Yorkshire Asian businesses at home and abroad. Thanks to her passion and experience, YABA has amassed over 3,500 corporate members and counting. Sharon promotes joint trade opportunities between her members and primarily the Indian subcontinent, where she embraces opportunities arising from the UK’s Free Trade Agreement with India. She continually promotes the assistance of the Ministry of International Trade while cooperating with events to bring attention to her members. She founded the charity Global Diversity Positive Action in 2015 after witnessing failure as a justice of the peace.

Sharon Jandu, founder and director of the Yorkshire Asian Business Association, said:

It is an absolute honor and a privilege to receive such a prestigious award due to the work I do both domestically and internationally to educate and promote Northern and Asian owned businesses.

I am grateful for the recognition from the Department of International Trade and I am fortunate to have the support of an incredible team.

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