BOSSES at an East Lancashire engineering giant are celebrating after securing a royal seal of approval – for the fourth time.

Ninety-five per cent of the products made by Simonstone-based Fort Vale are for the export market, triggering their latest Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

The honour, presented by the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, Col Alan Jolly, follows previous awards in 1981, 1986 and 2008. And with the inception of a new research and development centre, company founder Edward Fort and managing director Ian Wilson have a fifth gong in their sights. The near-600 strong firm began life in Colne in 1967, later moving to Nelson before settling off Burnley Road, Simonstone, in 2008.

It is a leading manufacturer of precision valves and related equipment for the bulk transportation of liquids, gases, and hazardous cargoes worldwide.

Mr Wilson said: “Winning this award is a team effort and not down to any individual. It is a credit to everyone who works here and we should all be proud of what we have achieved. My sincere thanks go to all our people.”

Mr Fort, who was made an OBE for his services to industry, also in 1967, added: “I feel very proud of our strong team and in particular all the dedicated long-serving employees who have been with Ian and me for many years and seen a lot of changes.

“It really is a marvellous achievement and one we should all be proud of.”

East Lancashire’s MPs have also acknowledged Fort Vale’s success and were on hand for the Queen’s award presentation.

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “Everybody says that manufacturing is finished in this country but this is the finest example of the reasons why we need to manufacture. This is a high-precision, highly success-ful company.”

Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, said: “ The number of apprentices it is taking on is an investment in young people.

“And because of the investment in capital and research and development, it means the company has got a rosy future, which is tremendous.”

Andrew Stephenson, MP for Pendle, where Fort Vale still has a foundry, said: “This is a company that has been a trailblazer for this area for many years. And with ambitious plans for the future hopefully it will be a trailblazer for many years to come.”