Charles Skene, founder of the Skene Group, was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list on Thursday 8 February 2018, for services to business and enterprise promotion.

The honour involved a whistle stop trip to London for the dedicated Aberdeen businessman, and his wife of 53 years Alison Skene MBE. He was joined at Buckingham Palace by his daughter Pamela, and his son Richard who flew in from Thailand for the special occasion.


Charles Skene at Buckingham Palace, with his wife Alison, daughter Pamela and son Richard.

Charles was certainly in good company, other famous Scots honoured in the Birthday Honours List included: J K Rowling OBE (Companion of Honour) for services to literature and philanthropy; Billy Connolly CBE (Knighthood) for services to entertainment and charity; Judy Murray (OBE) for services to tennis, women in sport and charity; and fellow Aberdonian Emeli Sandé (MBE) for services to music.

Charles Skene is best known for founding Aberdeen’s Skene House Apartment Hotels in 1979. He also established Skene Business Centres, and Inchmarlo Continuing Care Retirement Community which recently received “The Most Outstanding Continuous Care Community in the UK” awarded by the UK’s over 50’s Housing Awards.

His passion for encouraging and recognising talent in others has been an important part of his business life. As far back as 1986 Mr Skene was one of five area chairman in Scotland charged to promote the RSA’s Industry Year Initiative to young people highlighting the importance of industry in creating wealth and employment.

Charles Skene receiving his CBE from HRH Prince Charles

Charles Skene receiving his CBE from HRH Prince Charles

In the same year he introduced The Skene Young Entrepreneurs’ Award to encourage enterprise and entrepreneurship in primary and secondary schools throughout Scotland. Mr Skene has strong connections with Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University, going back to 2002 when he was appointed a Governor. He is also a Price-Babson fellow of Babson College, Boston, the leading university in the teaching of entrepreneurship using the Harvard Business School case study style of teaching.

In 1994 Scottish Enterprise asked him to attend their Symposium for Entrepreneurship Educators and decide whether Scottish Enterprise should fund the Babson programme of teaching enterprise in Scottish Universities. He was absolutely enthralled with the style of teaching, and Scottish Enterprise accepted his recommendation and funded numerous universities throughout Scotland, including the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University.


The special February day at Buckingham Palace itself was a memorable one. HRH Prince Charles, a regular visitor to Aberdeenshire, presented the award to Mr Skene. “I have had the pleasure of meeting His Royal Highness before’, says Charles Skene, ‘he’s always charming and positive and takes a genuine interest in what you do and what difference people can make to the world.”

Charles Skene’s zeal for encouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs shows no sign of waning. “I have long believed that, regardless of the economic and social background into which young people are born, they can succeed in adult life if they are given encouragement in their early years. Young Scots are our future and I believe that all schools in Scotland should introduce enterprise teaching into their curriculum.”

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