Uncle Joe's Mint Ball boss on his pride at royal connections
and live on Freeview channel 276
After all, it’s not that long since the then Prince of Wales dropped in for a tour of its Dorning Street buildings.
And it was the latest in a series of royal encounters, especially involving co-director of Wm Santus and Co, John Winnard.
He said: “As a 125-year old Wigan family business, it would be fair to say that we have seen many historical Royal events and ceremonies, each of which have in some way become a part of our history too.
"The Monarchy have always given us a sense of identity and pride, something that we try to instill into our staff members, the service that we give to our customers and the products that we manufacture.
“Uncle Joe’s Coronation celebrations will include bunting outside of the factory, sweets have been donated to Wigan Council who give them out during events scheduled in Leigh and Wigan’s Mesnes Park and commemorative hampers have been created to give to local charities to help with fund-raising.”
Associations with the Royal Family date back to 2002 when John Winnard was was invited to meet The Queen at Buckingham Palace and then again just six years later.
He said: "I am very proud to have represented our company and Wigan at Buckingham Palace. It was great to be asked once, never mind twice!”
In 2009 Her Majesty visited Leigh Sports Village where once again Uncle Joe’s received an invite to attend.
Three years on and John along with brother and co-director Antony and their mum Patricia were back at the Palace to receive John’s MBE, announced in the June 2011 birthday honours for work done in developing international trade and efforts in Wigan to support community and economic growth.
It was presented by the then Prince of Wales who spoke in great depth with John about Uncle Joe’s and the family history behind the company.
During his "natter with Charles” John said that “if ever he was in Wigan he was more than welcome to pop in for a cup of tea and a Mint Ball.”
The following day John wrote to the Palace confirming the invitation and soon after received a reply from the Prince’s equerry stating that he would be in touch should an opportunity arise.
In 2019 the seven-year-old invitation was accepted and Prince Charles visited the historic Mint Ball factory to commemorate its centenary.
Fourth generation family members John and Antony said they were “incredibly proud” to show him around the factory.
Antony said: “He was very easy to talk to and asked many questions about the traditional manufacturing methods that we use to produce our Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls which are still made to a closely guarded secret family recipe since 1898.
"Every member of staff thoroughly enjoyed Prince Charles’s visit. He spent approximately an hour at the premises and chatted to staff members too.”
Patricia’s husband Eric added: “He was absolutely charming, he showed huge interest in the company and it was a great pleasure to meet him.”
And John concluded: “We look forward to the future and we are sure that King Charles will continue the good work that his Mother, Her Majesty the Queen, accomplished.”