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4th January 2022

Champion of Kent Food and Drink, Sue Nelson is Awarded a CBE in Queen’s New Year Honours List

Kent’s own Sue Nelson, Chair of Produced in Kent, has been named a Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2022 New Year Honours List, in recognition of her services to small businesses in the UK.

A CBE is only awarded to individuals for having a prominent role at national level, or a leading role at regional level through service to the community. The CBE is the highest-ranking Order of the British Empire award (excluding a knighthood/damehood), followed by OBE and then MBE and unlike the other orders it is limited to 8,960.

Professional work

Sue is an award-winning entrepreneur, author, speaker, and broadcaster and was appointed Chair of Produced in Kent in June 2021. Prior to this, Sue built a successful company called Breakthrough Funding, which was designed to champion the small business owner and to make the complex R&D tax relief scheme accessible. The company was sold to Ernst & Young in March 2020.

The success of the Breakthrough company has allowed Sue to fund her own social impact work. This has included The FoodTalk Radio Show ( which is broadcast weekly and is available to download as a podcast through iTunes, Spotify or through most podcast apps. The programme showcases small producers and champions the UK as the place to come for amazing food and food tech innovation. Each episode explores the stories behind the incredible food and drink producers, manufacturers, retailers, pubs and hospitality outlets from around the UK but with a particular emphasis on Sue’s home county of Kent.

Early years and education

Sue grew up in inner city London to a working-class family. For the first year of her life her parents lived in a flat with no running water. She started her education at a primary school in Clapham before moving to Kent where she later attended Highworth Grammar School in Ashford and was head girl in her final year.

Sue is also a member of the Guild of Food Writers and author of ten books including FoodTech UK and the Fine Food Lover’s Guide with Simon Rimmer, the co-host of Sunday Brunch.

Sue Nelson, Chair of Produced in Kent, commented on the announcement:

“I’m very proud that I started a small business and sold it to a multinational with a great deal of help from my wonderful colleagues. But it’s not about that, at all. Alongside my corporate work, I’ve been involved with charities, not-for-profits, and community projects for the last 25 years.

“During this time, I’ve admired the amazing people who quietly go about their work at grass roots level with huge compassion, generosity, and modesty. It’s humbling to watch how they make a positive difference 365 days of the year at a very personal level, often on low pay or as a volunteer. So . . . to all the unsung heroes that I’ve had the great pleasure of working with for the last couple of decades, I am honoured to accept this award on their behalf and not mine.”

Produced in Kent, the dynamic food trade organisation and the voice of Kent’s independent Food & Drink sector, was delighted the appointment of Sue Nelson as new Chair of the Board in June 2021. Sue had been an integral member of the Produced in Kent board since 2020.

Notable people who have received a CBE include Stephen Hawking, Philip Larkin, Harold Pinter, Hugh Laurie, Elizabeth David, Sting, Kate Bush, Julie Walters, Olivia Coleman and Benedict Cumberbatch.