Richard Donner has worked at his family’s shirt-making firm, Double Two, for more than 53 years and was announced as the recipient of the prestigious award at a ceremony at the Cedar Court Hotel.
The firm, which is now based on Thornes Lane Wharf and has the Queen’s Award for International Trade, was an innovative enterprise when it was first founded in 1940 by Richard’s father, Isaak, a year after he fled from Nazi Germany.
The company became known world-wide for its pioneering attachable spare collars, the first man-made fibre garment, and the first truly non-iron shirt.
At its peak, Double Two employed more than 1,200 in Wakefield and a further 600 around Britain.
Due to a shift in work procedures, much of the production was moved to the Far East in the 1990s to preserve its future, but more than 100 people are still employed in Wakefield and another 100 shops around the country, with 5,000 employees world wide.
Richard joined his father’s company in 1963, having spent summers between university lectures working in the factories.
Unable to attend the awards ceremony after recovering from an operation, Richard said: “I am proud that I still meet many past employees in the streets and we smile and chat and I learn about their new lives.
“We export 45 per cent of our sales, so we still make a good contribution to Wakefield and Britain.
“I thank the Wakefield Express and all who run the city of Wakefield for making all this possible.
“At 77 I still have no intention of retiring. So we will still do many good things together.”