Princess Anne visits Thales’s Glasgow site
Yesterday, Thales in the UK’s Glasgow site Yesterday, Thales in the UK’s Glasgow site welcomed the return of a key person who was there for the official opening of the Linthouse Road factory in 1993. HRH The Princess Royal, who originally opened Thales’s optronics facility, returned to be a part of celebrating 25 years of high tech Scottish design, manufacturing and engineering activities, unveiling a second plaque to mark the occasion.
Arriving to the sound of bagpipes played by Thales’s own Ross Ponsonby, a current employee at the Glasgow site and former apprentice, Princess Anne was also joined by a host of dignitaries including Eva Bolander, the Lord Lieutenant of Glasgow; Ross Paterson, Air Officer Scotland; Commodore Bob Anstey, Assistant Chief of Staff Submarines and Colonel Charles Wallace, Deputy Commander of 51 Brigade. Local MPs, MSPs, schools, suppliers and charities associated with Thales in Scotland also attended.
Returning to the factory that she opened in May 1993, The Princess Royal was taken on a tour of the site, which employs 720 people and includes an Apprentice Training Centre. Along with the apprentices, The Princess Royal also met with representatives from the Prince’s Trust and STEM ambassadors, who form an important part of Thales’s future talent strategy.
Stuart Boulton, Vice President of Land and Air Systems at Thales in the UK, says: “Our apprentices are the lifeblood of this company. They represent the future of our business and it is absolutely imperative that we continue to support these young people to ensure we have the right talent to address the needs of our customers in the future, indeed for the next 25 years of this site.”
The dignitaries were also shown the Vehicle Integration Lab, which is currently housing an ambulance version of the Bushmaster MR6, Thales’s current offer into the UK Ministry of Defence’s Multi-Role Vehicle – Protected (MRVP) programme, before they saw a selection of Thales’s thermal cameras, lasers and the optronic mast facility. Thales in Glasgow has been the sole supplier of submarine periscopes and optronic masts to Royal Navy submarines since 1917.
Additionally, Thales’s Glasgow engineers are currently supplying a new sighting system for the British Army’s new AJAX Armoured Vehicle, which has automatic target detection and tracking capability, enabling the soldiers on-board to monitor multiple threats simultaneously from a distant range. This latest capability was demonstrated as the culmination of 25 years of successful vehicle sighting systems that have been supplied to the British Army.
Victor Chavez, Chief Executive of Thales in the UK, thanked the Princess Royal for her continued support and invited her to unveil a plaque commemorating the anniversary, where she took the opportunity to wish Thales continued success. The Chief Executive then recognised Thales’s century-long association with the Royal Air Force (RAF) by making a donation to its Benevolent Fund. A cheque was presented to Air Vice-Marshal Ross Paterson, who accepted it on behalf of the charity.
Alan Rae, a Thales employee who was present at the first visit, says: “I never thought that when I was in the audience for the first visit of Princess Anne in 1993 that I would not only see her return 25 years later, but I would be tasked with organising the event. It has been a great opportunity to see how far the company has come in that time and what a great future it has ahead of it.”