Zero Carbon Futures’ Managing Director, Dr Colin Herron has been awarded a CBE for services to Business and Energy in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Dr Herron, who has worked in the automotive industry for over 45 years, has become a leading advocate for the UK’s shift to low carbon transport. Over the last ten years, he has worked tirelessly to support the UK’s transition to electric cars.
Not only has he worked closely with UK Government to help meet their ambitions, he has also ensured that the North East is recognised as an important region for the manufacture, research and development of this new technology.
He said: “I am absolutely thrilled to receive this honour. The North East has always had a strong reputation in the automotive sector and it has been phenomenal to play a role in the industry at a time in which it is undertaking one of the greatest transformations in its history. To be recognised in this way for my work is a privilege.”
Following a 17 year career at Nissan, where he took on several roles in quality, new product development and supplier support, Colin moved to the former regional development agency, One North East. It was there that he worked closely with Nissan to help to secure the production of the Nissan LEAF as well as running a project for the region to become a test-bed for electric vehicle charge points.
It was when One North East announced its closure that Colin turned his efforts towards making sure that this work could continue and in 2011 he set up Zero Carbon Futures as a subsidiary of Gateshead College.
He said: “The North East had made such headway into electric vehicle development and it was vital that the work that had been undertaken did not stop. We had just 12 months to turn our work into a commercial operation to enable us to continue.”
Since then the company has gone from strength to strength, working with customers including Nissan, BMW, Renault and VW to develop a national charge point network as well as providing advice to other EV manufacturers and local authorities and running projects which investigate renewable energy sources.
But Colin’s success hasn’t come easy. He left school with few qualifications and started his career as an apprentice toolmaker in George Angus in Wallsend. Through hard work and determination, Colin juggled a young family and work to complete an HND in mechanical engineering followed by an MSC and then a PhD at Newcastle University.
He said: “I think that is what makes this honour even more special. As a young lad, who left school with no qualifications, I could never have dreamed of something like this. I have been incredibly lucky to have worked with such amazing people throughout my career that have helped me reach my potential. It’s also with enormous thanks to the team at Zero Carbon Futures who have made the company the success that it is.”
Outside of work, Colin was a trustee of The People’s Kitchen for many years and runs the early morning Sunday shift to take the soup kitchen to the streets of Newcastle. He is heavily involved in other charity work and for his 60th birthday in 2016, competed in the Belfast Marathon to raise money for an orphanage project in Bogota, Colombia.