Chairwoman of Birmingham manufacturer awarded MBE

Posted on 26 Jan 2018 by Jonny Williamson

Jill Dudley-Toole, co-founder and chairwoman of Frank Dudley Limited, has received the honour of Member of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list 2018.

Jill Dudley-Toole, chairwoman, Frank Dudley Ltd..
Jill Dudley-Toole, chairwoman, Frank Dudley Ltd.

Jill Dudley-Toole has received the MBE for services to business and the Birmingham community after giving nearly 70-years to Frank Dudley Limited (FDL), a manufacturer of precision pressings and assemblies.

Over eight decades, the firm’s ‘original apprentice’ has committed her personal savings to the company, saved it from bankruptcy more than once, championed apprenticeships and given time and money to the local community.

She first started helping at FDL’s original site aged just nine, using hand presses, running parts between suppliers in wheelbarrows and packing products, often past normal working hours.

After her father Frank died in 1966, with the family’s help she invested in the business, moving to a purpose-built factory from what was a basic facility at the family home, and driving the company forward.

Her MBE reflects the devotion and energy Jill has given to the company, its employees and the local area.

Grandson and Business Development Manager, Josh Dudley-Toole commented: “Frank Dudley’s survival can be credited 100% to Jill’s passionate devotion and continuous personal investment. She has poured every fibre of her being into this company, surviving four major recessions.”

Jill Dudley-Toole (front row, fourth from left) and the Frank Dudley Limited workforce – image courtesy of FDL.
Jill Dudley-Toole (front row, fourth from left) and the Frank Dudley Limited workforce – image courtesy of FDL.

Only by mortgaging the family’s personal property was the company able to pay wages and suppliers, on more than one occasion, but Jill and the family fought to keep the business afloat over six decades.

The Queen’s honour also recognises Jill’s efforts for people. In the 1950s, FDL bought shoes for all the children on the factory’s road and provided hot meals when local unemployment was high.

As well as small but important things such as laying on buses for staff, and giving to the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, she also makes monthly donations to three children’s charities, UK and international.

In 2016, 160 people raised £4,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support at an FDL Macmillan coffee morning – again, Jill’s idea. This year FDL will support Women in Engineering and Macmillan again, at Jill’s request.

Jill Dudley-Toole said: “I have always done what I thought was right and invested in people and this company, and it is a lovely recognition for those years of work.”