A mum-of-three who admits she was “blagging it” when she first started out in business has been awarded the MBE for services to entrepreneurship.

Sue Grant, 62, of Lepton, has spoken of her pride at being awarded the medal in the King’s Birthday Honours.

“When I was first told about it two weeks ago in a call from the Cabinet Office, I was surprised and delighted and thought it was pretty cool,” said Sue.

“I had to keep it quiet and could only tell close family, which was difficult, but now I can shout it from the rooftops!”

Sue now runs award-winning family business The Body Doctor at Clayton West with sons Adam, 33, Sam, 30, and Alexander, 21, but her journey started right at the very bottom, with nothing.

Sue returned from a short spell living in New Zealand in the mid-1990s with two young sons and needed to earn a living.

Not knowing anything about business, she’d seen the popularity of therapeutic wheat bags in New Zealand and decided to transport the idea to the UK.

“I knew nothing about business at the time and thought a margin was a line ruled down the side of a page,” said Sue. “I had to ask a customer how to create a trade price.

“I had no idea what I was doing and in those early days it was all blag and bluster. I only sounded like I knew what I was doing. In truth, I didn’t have a clue.”



Sue set up the Natural Wheat Bag Co Ltd in Emley, which quickly grew into a £1 million turnover business.

“I came back from New Zealand needing a job and I saw these wheat bags and thought it must be quite easy to bring them to the UK,” she said.

“I went to the local farmer and asked him how much for a sack of wheat. He said £4.50. I told him I’d seen them down the road for £4.25 and he said: ‘Go and buy it then!’

“I said I’d be buying hundreds of tons and I wanted his best price now. Eventually he gave me it for £4. Then I asked for credit terms. He said: ‘For one sack?!’ I said we needed to start as we meant to go on.

“Eventually I was buying 160 tons a year so it paid off for him.”

Wheat bags were heatable products designed to ease aches and pains and Sue was soon supplying big name retailers including The Body Shop, Debenhams, House of Fraser, the National Trust, John Lewis and shopping channel QVC.

She was working 16-hour days and was so successful she won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. The company employed about 20 people at its peak.

“Looking back you don’t know how you got through it,” said Sue. “I probably shouldn’t tell you this but when The Body Shop visited our office I was just blagging it.

“We had a Health & Safety document on the wall and it said ‘Health & Safety’ on the front but the 30 pages inside were all blank sheets of paper! You wouldn’t be able to do that today.”



The business had a visit from Prince Andrew who flew into the 3 Acres restaurant. “That was just surreal,” said Sue. “The whole of Emley shut down.”

Before she had her own production staff, Sue had wheat bags sewn by inmates at New Hall women’s prison at Flockton.

“Once when I went to pick up an order the prison was in lockdown and I couldn’t go in,” she recalled. “There was another time I was trapped inside and couldn’t leave.

“That’s when I realised I couldn’t go on telling customers we were late because the prison was on lockdown. It’s been quite an adventure.”

But it’s not all been success and the Natural Wheat Bag Co crashed in February 2008. With Sue looking after her youngest son she had handed over control to an MD who extended £75,000 in credit to a book company.

That firm went under, taking Sue’s company with it. She didn’t stop there, however, and set up a new venture, Crazy Popular Products, producing novelty scented bags. That meant she could pay off all her previous suppliers who were owed money.

“Business is all about how many times you get up,” said Sue. “The Wheat Bag Company was like a white knuckle ride.”

That rollercoaster of a learning curve, however, paved the way for The Body Doctor, a serious healthcare business founded in 2012.

After winning the Queen’s Award in 2004, Sue was asked to design an eye care product, and later an optical company The Eye Doctor was born.

The Body Doctor has gone on to win two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise and has grown, employing over 30 people.

TV medic Dr Hilary Jones has been an ambassador for the company for the last eight years and it continues to innovate.

Sue said the early years of The Body Doctor were tough but all she had learned in business went into making it a success.

“While the Wheat Bag Company was a white knuckle ride, The Body Doctor is a proper business where everything is done right,” she said.




Elsewhere, other Huddersfield people to be honoured in the King’s Birthday Honours List include entrepreneur and global brand designer James Sommerville.

James has been awarded the OBE for services to the creative industry, entrepreneurship and disadvantaged young people.

Huddersfield-born James started his own design studio, ATTIK, out of his grandmother’s attic in Paddock in the mid-1980s, with a £2,000 grant from the Prince’s Trust, now called The King’s Trust.

Over almost four decades the company grew to over 1,000 staff across five studios before being sold in a multi-million dollar deal.

James went on to become head of global design at soft drinks giant The Coca-Cola Company and now runs his own consultancy KnownUnknown in Atlanta in the United States.

James repays the faith the Prince’s Trust put in him by being an international ambassador for the organisation, helping the next generation of young entrepreneurs.

As a patron and enterprise fellow of the Prince’s Trust, he was invited to the King’s Coronation at Westminster Abbey last year.

Speaking from the States, James told Huddersfield Hub: “It’s a great honour to receive an OBE. Not only does this recognition mean a lot to me personally and professionally, but it is a testament to the importance of creativity and entrepreneurship.

“When my art teacher, Mr Cooper at Shelley High School, suggested I attend Batley Art College, it opened my eyes to the world of design. My passion for British creativity remains central to my work today.

“Today, as ambassador and advisor for The King’s Trust, I am excited to contribute and help expand the charity’s great work, for young people across the world.”



Also receiving the OBE is former Kirklees Council chief executive Jacqui Gedman (pictured above with former Mayor of Kirklees Cahal Burke).

In a 22-year career at Kirklees, Jacqui held several posts at the council, including director of economy, environment and skills, before being appointed chief executive in 2017.

During her time as the top officer, Jacqui steered the council through the Covid pandemic as well as turning round a Children’s Service department that had been judged to be failing in 2016.

Jacqui retired in October 2023 and has now been honoured for her services to local government.

Her successor as chief executive, Steve Mawson, said: “Jacqui has been a tough act to follow. She is hugely respected not just by her council colleagues but by local councillors and all those partner organisations who deliver public services in Kirklees.

“Jacqui led this council brilliantly through some of its greatest challenges. She was instrumental in turning round our services to children.

“Jacqui also put in place the foundations for economic transformation across the borough. And she brought the council workforce together during the pandemic. To achieve all of that took rare leadership qualities and a dedication to people and communities in Kirklees.

“On behalf of her former colleagues, I’m delighted to see that Jacqui’s immense contribution to Kirklees has been recognised.”

The MBE has also been awarded to Huddersfield man Tony Baverstock, chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Gillingham, for services to young people in Dorset.

Banker-turned-singer Supriya Nagarajan, founder of cultural organisation Manasamitra in Dewsbury, has been awarded the BEM for services to music.

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