Hebden Bridge Afghan rug seller gets special status with the FSB

James Wilthew

The only retailer outside of Afghanistan selling the country’s rugs is one of four companies owned and run by former Services personnel recognised by the Federation of Small Businesses with Honorary FSB Membership.

RAF veteran James Wilthew’s Afghan Rug Shop was highly commended in the Soldiering On Business of the Year Community Impact Award highly commended sponsored by Cisco.

James’ is the only retail shop outside of Afghanistan purely selling the country’s unique handmade rugs, and is the only UK retailer to be accredited with a Label-STEP licence for Fairtrade rugs. The Judges commended him for his international community impact, in supporting the Afghan families with whom he works.

Other winners include a Hampshire beekeeper, and IT company in Surrey, and a training provider in Essex.

Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, who presented the Business of the Year Community Impact Award, said: “It’s an honour to recognise these incredible businesses that have all been started and are run by those who have previously served. Their stories are all inspiring. The Federation of Small Businesses is delighted to welcome them as new members, as part of our commitment to people from the military communities in the small business sector.”

Ren Kapur, FSB’s Armed Forces Champion and Co-Chair of the Soldiering on Awards, said: “Thank you to the Federation of Small Businesses for gifting special honorary membership to these Soldiering On Business Award winners. It’s fantastic to see FSB supporting the armed forces community, shining a light on these remarkable people in business and giving them access to a support system.”

Membership of FSB gives business owners access to the UK’s most respected small business group and a range of vital benefits from business banking and access to finance, to legal advice and networking events.

The 2019 Soldiering on Awards were held at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge. The event was hosted by TV personality Carol Vorderman,  an Honorary Group Captain in the RAF, and former Royal Marine JJ Chalmers.