A Whitley Bay resident has spoken of how honoured he is to be on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2018.
Dr Colin Herron is managing director of Zero Carbon Futures, which has played an important regional role in the Rapid Charge Network, Plugged in Places and My Electric Avenue projects for electric vehicles and managed a £9million Go Ultra Low scheme in Milton Keynes last year.
The 61-year-old’s achievements include negotiating funding for the £8million Skills Academy for Sustainable Manufacturing and Innovation near Nissan on Wearside.
It provides training for skills that will be required in the low carbon industries of the future to college students and other business staff, as well as Nissan employees.
He has lived in Whitley Bay since 1980, the year he got married to Sarah-Jane. They have two daughters, Emma and Lucy.
Dr Herron, who has been awarded a CBE for services to business and the renewable energy sector, said: “My wife saw the letter, but I couldn’t tell anyone else and it was difficult to keep it to myself in the work environment.”
“It’s astounding to think that I’ve gone from growing up in a shipyard family in Wallsend to getting a royal honour at Buckingham Palace later this year.”
He started his employment life at the George Angus factory on the Coast Road in 1973 and after a spell in London, which included gaining qualifications, he joined Nissan in 1987.
In 2003, he moved to the One North East regional development agency, which was abolished in 2010.
His team was involved in a charging points programme for the region and when the agency was abolished, they persuaded Gateshead College to establish a not-for-profit subsidiary company, Zero Carbon Futures.
“Working with big manufacturers such as BMW, we were able to make the business stable and then grow,” Dr Herron said.
“What helps us is that we are not aligned to any company or equipment manufacturer, so we have no vested interests.
“Some of the political numbers that were put forward for electric vehicles were a bit ambitious, but manufacturers are making the transition to produce them in big volumes so between now and 2025 the increase in these vehicles should be fairly significant.
“Our work involves preparing cities and local authorities for this increase, which will be an enormous challenge for them.”
He was appointed to the North East LEP Innovation Board two years ago. He is a Professor of Practice at Newcastle University.
Dr Herron also volunteers with The People’s Kitchen in Newcastle on Sunday mornings.