John Burns, MBE, Chief Executive of Burns Pet Food, has today received an Honorary Fellowship at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s (UWTSD) graduation ceremony in Carmarthen, in recognition of his support of charities and entrepreneurial innovation.
Presenting John Burns to the congregation was Shone Hughes, Chief of Staff for the University. He said:
“It is a great honour to present John as an Honorary Fellow of the University. John is an inspiration to us all – combining business and charitable work, which really makes a difference to the community he serves. ”
On receiving his award John said:
“I’m very honoured to receive this award today – it really is a great surprise to be here as well as a great pleasure, and I’d like to endorse the advice that was given today. They do say that genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration; I think it’s important to work hard when you have an idea.”
John, who was born in Belfast, but moved to the West of Scotland as a young child, was brought up on a farm where his love of animals and passion to train as a vet, began.
His first job was in a vet's practice in Whitland, and he soon noted that the pets, especially dogs often had persistent or recurring illnesses. Drugs only relieved the illness short term. Hoping to improve his professional skills, he went to London to study human acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine.
In particular, he was attracted to Macrobiotics – combining traditional thought with modern life- and how this could work for animals. When John returned to Wales and to his work as a vet, he decided to put this into practice.
So, he set about creating a commercial, natural, healthy pet food modelled on his homecooked diet.
In 1993, following 10 years of hard work, determination and perseverance, the UK's first natural pet food company was born in West Wales. In 1997, Burns became the first UK business to bring chemical-free pet food to market, using Vitamin E and rosemary oil to preserve food, rather than chemical preservatives. Burns set the industry standard for others to follow.
Burns Pet food has been trading for nearly 30 years, is an accredited Living Wage Employer and employs around 130 people as well as 8 members of staff who work for the charitable arm, the John Burns Foundation. John always wanted to give back and help the community he is part of and over the years has created a number of charitable initiatives to support people in need.
In 2007 John launched The Burns Pet Nutrition Foundation to help enhance the lives of disadvantaged people, by offering practical recreational facilities and life skill opportunities, as well as using the arts, the outdoors, and events to bring enjoyment to the whole community.
Burns By Your Side is John's flagship reading with dogs project and is aimed at children of all ages to help with reading and communication skills. The Better Tomorrow programme helps children, young people and adults who may be at risk of social isolation and offers a range of recreational activities, which are designed to develop and enhance valuable life skills.
Burns in the Community provides support for individuals who have the potential to become socially excluded and collaborates with local community groups and a whole host of social organisations.
John is already looking to develop further the charitable work of the business and Foundation and was awarded an MBE for services to business and the community in West Wales last month.