Simon Elvin Honored With An Outstanding Contribution Award

“Your signature has graced billions of cards; your personal signoff of excellence. Well tonight your name appears on this special one-off trophy,” said Jakki Brown, editor and co-owner of Progressive Greetings in an emotive tribute speech that culminated in Simon Elvin being announced as the worthy recipient of the GCA Outstanding Contribution Award of The Henries 2019, presented at last Thursday (3 October) evening’s ceremony.

There was a standing ovation from the 700-strong audience as the extraordinary entrepreneurial publishing leader made his way to the stage to collect his award.

Above: Simon Elvin was presented with a one-off GCA Outstanding Contribution Award by Joanne Davies, UK Envelope Centre’s managing director Joanne Davis, who sponsored this category.
Above: Simon Elvin was presented with a one-off GCA Outstanding Contribution Award by Joanne Davies, UK Envelope Centre’s managing director, who sponsored this category.

Urged to make an impromptu acceptance speech, Simon put his natural shyness to one side and paid tribute to the industry of which he has been a part for 50+ years.

“This is totally unexpected,” said the ‘king of cards’, whose group includes Simon Elvin, Paper Rose, Nigel Quiney Publications, Polytint and Glick. Sending out a message of kinship to all the publishers present at The Henries event he said: “What we all share is the passion to have the right card – with the right design and the right words – all of us do this in different ways, which is the industry’s strength.”

Above: (left-right) industry legends Simon Elvin (far right) Jeff Bottomley (founder of Kingsley Cards) and Andrew Brownsword (Andrew Brownsword Collection) at a Greeting Card and Calendar Association event several moons ago.
Above: (left-right) industry legends Simon Elvin (far right) Jeff Bottomley (founder of Kingsley Cards) and Andrew Brownsword (Andrew Brownsword Collection) at a Greeting Card and Calendar Association event several moons ago.

PG’s Jakki Brown drew over five decades of achievements for her build-up speech, which includes this excerpt…“We honour someone who has whizzed past their half century of working in the card trade and has no intention of slowing down. Their passion for product knows no bounds, having been involved in personally approving well over 25,000 different greeting card designs that have been lapped up by card buyers all over the world.

Above: Simon Elvin with his wife and longstanding business partner Janet during his GCCA presidential year in 1983.
Above: Simon Elvin with his wife and longstanding business partner Janet during his GCCA presidential year in 1983.

Their dedication to detail on the design front is unusually matched by their ability to also see the big picture, reflected in the formidable group of greeting card businesses that span the market, which they now head up.

The real measure of the person we honour tonight can be traced back to the 1960s, when, as a newbie publisher they recognised that if the few publishers that were around back then took steps to grow a healthy industry then all of those within it would have a better chance of prospering, so they joined what was then known as the Greeting Card and Calendar Association and has been a valued member, council member and former president of the Association ever since.

Above: Simon and Janet Elvin (centre) with some of the loyal team.
Above: Simon and Janet Elvin (centre) with some of the loyal team.

They have, over the years, been involved in spearheading so many inventive marketing initiatives to promote card sending, from major consumer PR stunts to far-sighted retailer promotions.

As they told me a few weeks ago: “The essence of the association today is the same as it was 50 years ago and probably 50 years before that. It is all about us as businesses putting our competitive nature to one side and thinking of the greater good of the industry.”

I have had the very good fortune of knowing this special individual for over 30 years and they have made a big impact on my life and our business. When Warren and I had just taken the decision to stage an MBO and acquire Progressive Greetings back in 1990 we asked for their advice. “Just do all the little things well. They may not seem much individually, but somehow they all add up.“ He was so right.

Above: (right-left) Simon and Janet Elvin with Henries’ 19 host Tom Allen and Jackie Lomax (wife of Warren, PG’s co-owner).
Above: (right-left) Simon and Janet Elvin with Henries’ 19 host Tom Allen and Jackie Lomax (wife of Warren, PG’s co-owner).

Thankfully they ignored the advice given to them back in the 70s to: “Get out of the card trade now. This industry is going nowhere” and instead has given it their all and, even at the young age of 78 still goes into the office every day together with his right hand woman who has been by his side since the start.

…It gives me absolute pleasure to present the GCA Outstanding Contribution Award to Simon Elvin.”

Top: Simon Elvin paying tribute to his fellow cardies in his impromptu speech at The Henries ceremony on October 3.

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