Presented by: Professor Frank Sanderson
Honorable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Nicholas Wainwright for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.
Nicholas Wainwright, joint MD of Liverpool-based Boodles, is Britain's leading gem specialist and has over 35 years experience of sourcing, choosing and mounting the world's finest precious stones. His is highly respected throughout the jewellery trade not only for his unparalleled knowledge of gems and his insistence on high quality, but also for his strong advocacy of 'proper' business dealing.
His enthusiasm for his profession is tangible - he still gets really excited by diamonds and positively looks forward to Monday mornings. His company can trace its origins back to 1798, the time of the French Revolution, when it was established to supply the needs of Liverpool's wealthy merchants, and since 1870 has been owned and managed by five generations of the Wainwright family.
Born in West Kirby in 1948, Nicholas Wainwright was educated at Shrewsbury School - where he excelled in cricket, athletics and football.
After A Levels, he joined Boodle & Dunthorne in 1967 when it was a traditional county jewellers. He was first apprenticed in Geneva and London in watch making, goldsmithing and learning how to buy and sell gems before studying retail management in New York.
Back in Liverpool and recognising that he needed to have a broad understanding of the business, he did everything from wrapping parcels to polishing silver. By the 1980s, he was helping to transform the business through an increasing focus on fine jewellery.
In 1988 he succeeded his father to become Managing Director. In 1994, his younger brother Michael was appointed joint MD, thereby uniting Nick's pre-eminence in creative design with Michael's commercial acumen.
Over the last decade, Nick and his brother propelled the business into the 21st century. They have overseen the rebranding of Boodle & Dunthorne as Boodles, creating a trend-setting market leader with eight outlets and an enviable list of wealthy clients. They currently have shops in highly fashionable New Bond Street and Sloane Street, within Harrods and in the courtyard of the Royal Exchange in London.
In the Northwest, in addition to the head office in Liverpool, they are the pre-eminent jewellers in Manchester and Chester. And in 2006, they opened in Grafton Street, Dublin, and soon will be opening at the newly restored Savoy Hotel in London.
Nicholas attributes the success of the business to a number of factors: family pride - keeping it in the family for future generations with no guardian of the family business wishing to be the one to squander the legacy.
There is also a complete aversion to debt - as he says, "We've been jewellers for over 200 years and during that length of time you have wars, recessions, family problems. If you're heavily overdrawn when the slump comes, you're finished". He points to the current economic climate and his satisfaction with the way in which Boodles is weathering the recession much better than expected.
Nick also stresses the importance of the business values absorbed from his father: the old-fashioned values of integrity, reliability, and 'proper dealing' - paying your bills on time and 'Your Word is your Bond'.
During Nick Wainwright's time, Boodles has won many awards for its fine jewellery, its longevity and its continuing commitment to Liverpool. And Nicholas himself has won many awards, and along with brother Michael, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the jewellery industry in 2005. They were surprised and a little shocked by this valedictory award as they plan to be around for quite a while yet.
Nick's standing within the industry is evidenced in other ways: He is past Chairman of the National Association of Goldsmiths in Merseyside and he has served on many national committees of the Association and at Goldsmiths' Hall. He is a Liveryman and Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and he is a Fellow of the Gemmological Association.
Nick has strong business links with Thailand - he has been the Honorary Consul of Thailand for 17 years in Liverpool and is Past President of the Liverpool Consular Corps. The Thai government has shown its appreciation of his contribution by making him a Knight Commander of the Order of the Blue Elephant and a Companion of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant.
Away from business he served as a magistrate for 10 years and is heavily involved in a number of charities - notably, he is a Trustee of the Imagine Appeal for Alder Hey Children's Hospital and President of the Shining Faces Christian orphanage in southern India, sanctuary to more than 2,000 children, and is a tireless fund-raiser for them.
Nick is married with 4 children and seven grandchildren - a number of the family are here today including his brother Michael, his wife Alex, his son Jody and nephew James who represent the 6th generation of the family involved in the business, and his mother Jean - who does her best to keep her sons on the rails - constantly urging them to relax, not to work too hard and to take more time off from work.
Nick enjoys shooting, tennis and golf. He is a Member of the R & A Golf Club and a former Captain of the Royal Liverpool Golf Club at Hoylake. He once played there with the Duke of York who also had a single-figure handicap. Prince Andrew made par on the first hole but Nick, ever self-effacing and determined not to show off in front of Royalty, made a 12 after hitting three consecutive tee shots out of bounds.
Nicholas Wainwright, a man born with diamonds in his blood, is entitled to be proud of his contribution to the family business. His belief in and commitment to Liverpool remain as strong as ever.
The business is in even better shape than when he joined, with strong growth and a Liverpool design team as good as any in the country. Nick continues to serve the 5th generation of the family well not only through his creative flair but also through his manifest integrity and decency.
He has proved to be a worthy custodian of the family business and is a most worthy recipient of a Fellowship today.
Thus I have great pleasure in presenting Nicholas Wainwright, this most distinguished son of our city, for admission to our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.