Council worker who helped bring Nissan to Sunderland honoured with OBE

Tom Hurst receiving his OBE.
Tom Hurst receiving his OBE.

A Sunderland council worker who helped bring Nissan to Sunderland has received an OBE


Tom Hurst's honour saw economic and business success in the city recognised with an Investiture ceremony as part of Her Majesty The Queen's Birthday Honours List.

The Head of Automotive, Investment & Business Support at Sunderland City Council's was honoured for services to Local Government and Economic Prosperity through Inward Investment.

Mr Hurst, who lives in Stockton, first joined the council more than 30 years ago.

Nissan's Sunderland plant.

Nissan's Sunderland plant.

"I’m very flattered and, naturally, honoured to be awarded this," he said.

"Sunderland has always had a very strong track record in attracting global companies to locate and expand in the city.

"We’ve continued with that track record and are at the forefront of both job creation and inward investment.

"In achieving and sustaining this strong record, it’s always been a team effort from within the council by officers and councillors, and by working closely with our partners in both the public and private sector."

Sunderland is now one of Europe’s major automotive locations with around 15,000 people directly employed in the sector in the city itself, and many thousands more in surrounding parts of the region.

Council leader Paul Watson said: "Tom was part of the team that helped attract Nissan to Sunderland and the North East in the 1980s.

"He has helped put Sunderland and the North East region at the front of today's automotive manufacturing sector with job creation and investment opportunities in a very important strategic sector of the UK economy.

"Tom has also worked tirelessly across many business sectors in Sunderland from offshore and sub-sea, financial and customer services, to software and IT.

"He has been a major player who has helped build, maintain and steer many economic developments and successes in Sunderland and the North East region.

"Receiving this Royal honour is recognition for him and everyone who has worked with him because Tom and his business team have helped bring a lot of investment to Sunderland and our region."

Aside from the automotive sector, there are also other large manufacturers in Sunderland and household names such as Rolls Royce and BAE Systems - in 2015 manufacturing accounted for 17 per cent of city jobs, compared to eight per cent nationally.

More than 5,000 people are now employed in Sunderland's technical and digital sector.

In services there are other household names such as Barclays and TSB who have large contact and specialist administration centres, including fraud detection units.

Irene Lucas CBE, Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council, said: "Tom is a very well-known figure, very popular, well respected, and a hard-working colleague who has done a lot of work with his team helping to bring new jobs and business investment to Sunderland and the North East region.

"Many people across the region, and also nationally and internationally, will be delighted how the fantastic work Tom has done in economic investment now has this Royal recognition.

"As a city, Sunderland continues to score and rank well in attracting business investment and nurturing new talent.

"While we are at the centre of the automotive industry, Tom and the city's business team have also played a central role in the development of other key sectors.

"They have worked tirelessly in nurturing, maintaining and improving business and economic networks. These honours are a well-deserved thanks and recognition for all the team's hard work and the contributions they have made to our city and region."

Looking to the future, the City Council is working in partnership with its neighbour South Tyneside to develop the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) on land to the west of the A19 and north of the Nissan site.

This has been classified by the Government as a 'nationally significant' project. It is about attracting more than £300m of investment and 5,200 jobs.

Mr Hurst received his OBE on Wednesday, October 11, from The Duke of Cambridge, on behalf of The Queen.