Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, has presented twenty-two companies with the Ministry of Defence’s highest recognition for employer support to the Armed Forces…

The Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) awards ceremony was hosted by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon at the Royal Hospital Chelsea – a retirement home for hundreds of army veterans, on Wednesday evening.

The Duke of Cambridge thanked twenty-two companies for their work in the area by handing them a Gold award. Recipients included firms from a wide range of sectors, ranging from large corporate companies to small and medium-sized enterprises.

The scheme is designed to recognise and thank employers who support the Armed Forces community and their families, and to inspire others to do the same.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "Employers across the country are ensuring our military get a fair deal including by helping veterans to have successful careers after leaving service. These companies are rightly being recognised for the support they offer under the Armed Forces Covenant and encouraging other firms to go the extra mile."

Engineering firm AECOM, one of the winners of the gold award, has doubled the number of Reservists it employs in the last 12 months through new hires and its own employees joining. It allows 15 extra days leave for them, as well as Cadet Instructors.

Additionally, it has invested in a specific service for recruiting those leaving the service, which has increased the number of veterans it employs from 40 to 70 spanning all ranks and services.

Steve Morriss, Chief Executive of AECOM and former Officer, said: "As a former Officer myself, I have seen first-hand the breadth of highly transferable skills our Armed Forces can bring to a company like AECOM. We remain committed to recruiting servicemen and women looking to leave the military and providing them with a rewarding second career."

DJ Rees, a small decorating company with 21 staff based in South Wales, has worked with Reservists for a number of years. The company recruits apprentices into its team exclusively from the Armed Forces Employability Pathway scheme, helping improve employment prospects for young, unemployed people.

Watch a video of the story of DJ Rees employee Paul Matthews here or below.

Paul was homeless until DJ Rees gave him a job and training, which gave him the transferable skills he needed to fulfil his dream of joining the Army.

Welcoming the award, Managing Director Mr David Rees said: "We were tremendously happy just to be nominated for a Gold Award, let alone to actually win one. It’s such an achievement, and I’m so happy. This is our 25th year of trading and winning this award has to be one of my proudest moments in business.

"As an employer I believe in supporting the Armed Forces. It’s important to be flexible and understanding with my staff who are committed to their service. It’s a priority to me and will continue to be so in the future."

The full list of employers recognised for their outstanding support for Defence personnel includes:

AECOM, Atos UK Ltd, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Boeing Defence UK Ltd, Bureau Veritas, DJ Rees Decorating Services Limited, Doncaster Council, Dundee City Council, Hampshire County Council, HSBC, Kier Group, KPMG, Nationwide Building Society, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Pertemps, QinetiQ, Holt’s Military Bank/NatWest/Royal Bank of Scotland, Scottish Ambulance Service, Surrey County Council, TA Plastic Supplies Ltd, United Utilities and Waves Training Solutions Ltd.