A BUSINESSMAN who has helped rejuvenate a 128-year-old Darlington conservatory company yesterday received an Order of the British Empire (OBE) at Buckingham Palace.

Colin Taylor, 42, managing director of timber conservatory manufacturer Amdega, was awarded the honour for his services to international trade.

Since he joined the Faverdale company seven years ago, he has overseen a dramatic upturn in its fortunes, including a doubling of the workforce and a massively increased turnover.

Mr Taylor said: "There was a buy-out of the company by 3i just over five years ago and since then the growth has been excellent. Before that the company was just stagnating.

"We used to employ about 190 people and 365 now work here. The turnover has risen from about £11m a year to £28m and we expect that to continue."

The firm, founded in Darlington in 1874, now exports hand-built conservatories to countries all over the world.

"There's not that many companies that export conservatories," said Mr Taylor.

"But name any country in the world and we will probably have exported there, though the United States is our biggest overseas market."

The father-of-three, originally from Derbyshire but now living in Hartlepool, travelled to London with wife, Frances, who is Amdega's finance director, and his parents.

"They are more excited than me about the OBE," he said. "But I am pleased - I think it's testament to the strength of the management team at Amdega."