Our Centenary | Wilson Organisation

Our Centenary

In 2014 we celebrated 100 years in business

In 2014 we celebrated 100 years in business

It certainly was a busy Centenary year at Wilsons, completing our ‘100 Things for Charity’ initiative where our people have the chance to make a difference through a range of activities, from marathon running to environmental projects. Reaching 100 years has been a time to celebrate too, “A hundred years in business is a  really significant achievement,” says our Chairman John Prow. “We can’t think of a better occasion to celebrate with our clients, our team and their families.”

Our Celebrations

The Royal Automobile Club in London was chosen to host the first party, very fitting as when Harold Wilson founded the business in 1914, he stood outside motor taxation offices in Nottingham to offer people car insurance.

The dinner at The Carriage Hall was a little closer to home, whilst the Garden Party for the Wilsons team and their families was literally at home! John and Olga Prow hosted the garden party at their Nottinghamshire home, transforming the garden with gazebos and children’s games, with afternoon tea provided by Perkins and live music courtesy of the IT Manager’s band.

Charlotte added “Throughout our history our people have always been of paramount importance, as a third generation family business such strong family values are inherent within our organisation, so hosting the party at our family home was a perfect choice.”

And of course we had Wilson Bear, designed and manufactured especially for us by Merrythought, the UK’s oldest surviving teddy bear maker and itself a family business. Wilson attended our charity events, client parties and staff parties throughout our centenary celebrations.

100 Things for Charity

Wilsons have always encouraged their people to become involved in local projects and engage with both the local community as well as the business community. The ‘100 Things for Charity’ initiative ran throughout 2014, with one charitable or community event or activity for each of Wilsons 100 years of business. Annabel explained “It is our way of marking the firm’s milestone of 100-years and also gives us a great opportunity to work with the people and community in and around Nottingham.”

Charity collections, coffee mornings, volunteering, fun runs and half marathons have all featured, but CEO Annabel’s charity challenge is certainly the highlight of the list.  Annabel took on the Tour du Mont Blanc, one of the most famous mountain trekking trips in the world. In just seven days, Annabel completed the solo mountain trek, tackling the 100-miles of trails across France, Italy and Switzerland, around Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, smashing the usual 12 day target.

Aviva Community Support Award

After five years of the Midlands Family Business Awards we’re more used to organising Awards that entering them! We’ve considered entering the Aviva Community Fund Awards in previous years, but with our ‘100 Things for Charity’ commitment for our Centenary year, we knew this was the year for us.

Emmanuel House Support Centre is now the only full-time day centre in the Nottingham and has a vital part to play in our city’s aims to tackle homelessness and deliver a range of services to its most marginalized people.  The team at Wilsons held shoe, clothing and other collections, and also painted the exterior of the Centre for their Open Day in July.

We had been in discussions with Emmanuel House to refurbish the centre, but needed was the funding to make this happen, so we submitted an entry to the Community Support category of the Aviva Community Fund.  The 2014 Awards received more than 200 entries, so to be named as one of the 24 finalists was a huge achievement. At the Awards ceremony in London on 4 November, we were thrilled to be announced the winner of our category, with a £10,000 prize.

Alastair Paylor, Emmanuel House’s Centre Manager, said: “I know I speak for all staff at the Centre when I say we owe the Wilsons team a huge debt of gratitude – for their incredible support and this most needed funding. We have to prioritise the funding we receive to deliver our core services to the many homeless and social excluded individuals who use our centre every day, so receiving this additional funding specifically for improving the centre and making it more homely and suitable for the services we deliver, is a tremendous boost and will have a positive impact on the community we serve.”

Our Centenary year may now be over, but it’s going to be just as busy for the Wilsons team in 2015 as we help with the refurbishment of Emmanuel House!

Over 100 years of innovation

  • 1914

    A successful launch! The Wilson Organisation was founded in Nottingham by Harold Wilson and became the first company in the East Midlands to offer a comprehensive insurance policy to the region’s fast-growing band of automobile drivers. Innovation from day one.

  • 1920s

    During the 1920’s, Wilsons developed its commercial insurance offering under the stewardship of Harold Wilson. Hopping forwards 80 years, Wilsons has developed a number of industry specialisms including a particular expertise in the food and drink sector. We created a unique insurance offering called “FoodProtect” and, through this service, have been able to deliver intelligence and cost-effective insurance programmes to a broad spread of leading food producers. The best thing since sliced bread? Maybe not, but we’re working on it.

  • 1949

    John Prow joined Harold Wilson in the business, marking the first generation of the Prow family’s involvement in The Wilson Organisation. Wilsons’ clients included leading Nottingham firm Boots The Chemist plus a number of operators in the burgeoning railway sector. With post-war regeneration beginning apace, the firm’s fledgling construction expertise quickly developed into one of our leading offerings and this continues through to the present day, with clients including national and regional builders, developers, contractors, sub-contractors and architects.

  • 1960s

    The 1960s were the start of a new era for The Wilson Organisation. Harold Wilson and John Prow died on the same day in 1963, Harold of illness and John in a car crash. This left John’s son, John J Prow, to run the growing business at the age of 27. Under his youthful direction, Wilsons benefited from a new energy and direction. John J Prow, who had joined in 1960 in a new business role, led the move into our current premises at Wilson House in 1964 and then launched the financial services division in the following year.

  • 1990s

    The late 1990s heralded the start of the third generation of the Prow family’s involvement in the business. Managing Director Charlotte Prow joined in 1998, to be followed by the firm’s Chief Executive, Annabel Prow, in 2002. Product and service innovation continued apace with the launch of a corporate finance specialism in 1997, which continues to deliver valuable cost-savings and insights to the region’s dealmakers.

  • 2000s

    Now century on from the launch of The Wilson Organisation in 1914, the company continues to encourage innovation and reward good ideas. Within the financial services team, 2008 marked the launch of “Flex”, a powerful employee benefit programme and the development of “WRAP”, an investment tool with a unique level of investor control and transparency. Meanwhile, our insurance advisers worked quickly to bring to market a specialist insurance policy for insolvency practitioners.

  • 2010s

    2010 saw the launch of the Midlands Family Business Awards by Wilsons, the UK’s only independent not-for-profit Awards for family businesses. Now in their fifth year, the Awards have raised almost £20,000 for charities supporting families and young people. In 2014 we are celebrating Wilsons’ centenary, a significant milestone in Wilsons’ history.

Registered Office:
Wilson House, 1/3 Waverley Street, Nottingham, NG7 4HG

Registered in England Number 862690 - Members of British Insurance Brokers Association

Harold Wilson (Insurances) Ltd. and Harold Wilson Financial Services Ltd. are authorised and regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority)