A Wigan man visited Buckingham Palace this week to be made a Commander of the British Empire in recognition of services to nuclear energy.
Stuart Crooks, 54, was awarded his CBE to mark a distinguished career spanning 33 years in the industry.
Today he is in charge of Europe’s largest construction site, building the UK’s first new nuclear power station in a generation at Hinkley Point in Somerset, but Stuart has not forgotten his local roots in Standish and Shevington.
Stuart said: “My work has taken me all around the country, but at heart I remain a proud Wigan lad and I’m in no doubt that my northern upbringing helped shape my outlook on life and career.”
The Hinkley project employs 170 suppliers from across the northwest, contributing project infrastructure development, civil construction, mechanical, electrical and heating and marine works in contracts worth nearly £600 million for the region.
Stuart is a strong advocate of hard work and taking opportunities, no matter what your background, having started his own career as a 16 year-old electrical apprentice at a local factory.
Stuart joined the nuclear industry after completing an apprenticeship in 1986 at Heysham 2 power station, working on the installation and commissioning of the main computer control and protection systems.
He completed qualifications in electrical engineering at Wigan and Leigh College, before graduating in Applied Physics with an honours degree from Manchester Polytechnic.
He later achieved an MBA at Lancaster University, all part-time while working at Heysham 2 where he progressed through various engineering roles.
Stuart went on to become managing director of the business running the UK’s eight existing nuclear power stations where he championed innovative solutions to safely surpass international nuclear operation performance standards, gaining the respect of colleagues in the Office for Nuclear Regulation and World Association of Nuclear Operators.
He has also played a significant role in breaking down barriers between genders in a male-dominated industry, introducing a reverse-mentoring programme and personally mentoring several women engineers.
The father of three received his CBE from Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremony at the Palace with his wife, Alison and parents Jimmy and Marlene.
“Stuart said: “I am very humbled to receive this honour. My career achievements could not have been possible without the tremendous support from my wife and family and also my hardworking colleagues. Thank you to everyone.”