Business woman Yvonne Mason has been awarded an OBE in Her Majesty The Queen’s 2020 New Year Honours List in recognition of her many years of dedication to inspiring and empowering young people in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Growing up in Gorleston, Norfolk, Yvonne was all too aware of both the benefits and the challenges of being a young person in the region. Starting her first company back in 1988 gave Yvonne the opportunity for global travel, broadening her knowledge and understanding of the world and its industries.

Recognising the value of this experience to young people, many of whom having not travelled outside the region at that point in their lives, ignited her passion for inspiring and sharing knowledge and experience with others.  From the foundation of The Mason Trust in 2008, Yvonne’s energy and support has been inspiring and guiding the Trust team to work in this way with many thousands of young people. This led to the creation of the innovative ICANBEA website which is a platform (website/social media) for young people to explore and research their future career options.

Since 2008 The Mason Trust has sent just under 1000 young people from Norfolk and Suffolk to 50 countries across the globe. Yvonne has accompanied some of the trips and has seen at first-hand the benefits to those young people. All have returned more confident with a more balanced view of the world, and in many cases with a clear idea of where their futures lie. The countries to which they have travelled have also benefitted, with many young people overseas being taught, and engaging in sport, community projects and the performing arts. The Trust encourages its Alumni to then give back to other young people which, over time, will create a continuous circle of support.

With a long history in industry, Yvonne uses her global knowledge and regional contacts to form a bridge between industry, and all its regional and global opportunities, and young people. Working in shipping services globally gives her the opportunity to benchmark best practise in industry and in industry-education programmes, and these ideas are brought home to Norfolk and Suffolk.

As a Department for International Trade regional Export Champion, the companies founded by Yvonne and Captain Bob Gilchrist in 2010 (Future Marine Services and Safe STS Ltd) are thriving across East Africa, Middle East, Asia and South America. With support from the in-country DIT teams, they work to establish British business in some of the most challenging parts of the world.

As one of the founding members of the UTCN (University Technical College Norfolk), Yvonne helped to lobby government to provide the funding and support which enabled its foundation and successful development. As Chair of its Industry Liaison Group, Yvonne leads a group of over 70 businesses which ensure 100% destinations for an increasingly large student cohort who are trained, and prepared for work, by a cohesive team from both industry and education.

With a clear view of what is needed, and the vision to see what can be achieved, Yvonne Mason has the drive and energy to continue to build upon the good work being done across the region.