Happy Birthday Rentokil

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On the afternoon of Monday 9 November, just a few short months before the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday and a short walk from Her Majesty’s London pad, Rentokil Initial marked the company’s 90th anniversary by welcoming guests to the Terrace Pavilion of the House of Commons.
The Palace of Westminster venue was particularly appropriate because it was here that the story of Rentokil began. In the early twentieth century the fabulous medieval hammer-beam roof in Westminster Hall, the oldest building on the parliamentary estate, erected in 1393, was found to have a bad case of deathwatch beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum).

Professor Harold Maxwell-Lefroy of Imperial College was called in to find a solution. He came up with the first chemical fluid specifically designed to control wood-boring insects. Following its success in protecting the Hall he wanted to market his product as Entokil but the name was already registered so an R was added and, in 1925, Rentokil Limited was born. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Terrace Pavilion was packed with customers, colleagues, suppliers, advisers, shareholders and other key contacts for the reception.

 Rentokil - Westminster hall

Where it all started. Westminster Hall has the largest clearspan medieval roof in England, measuring 20.7m by 73.2m (68ft by 240 ft)

Your Pest editors, Frances McKim and Helen Riby, were delighted to be included on the invitation list and interested to hear that the company’s history has now been documented in a new book. The Pest Detectives, written and researched by journalist Rob Gray, it looks set to become a Pestseller!

Among the guests were a number of past and current employees who had contributed to the book along with representatives from Imperial College with whom Rentokil still has scientific links and Wrekin College; Rentokil customers for the past 80 years!

As part of the celebrations everyone was invited to take the Rentokil Pestaurant challenge and to sample a range of roasted insects and larvae – salt and vinegar crickets or Christmas pudding flavoured mealworms anyone!

Guests were welcomed by Chris Heaton-Harris, MP for Daventry, who hosted the event – you have to have a Member host to stage an event in the Houses of Parliament.

Rentokil CEO Andy Ransom gave an entertaining resume of Rentokil’s past and present. He explained how it was slow going at first. By 1935 there were ten people in the business and it made a loss that year of £64. By 1953 there were still only 130 employees, but, today, that number stands at 29,000, with a revenue of almost £2billion.

As well as welcoming guests Chris Heaton-Harris used his facebook page and twitter feed to encourage all MPs to get down to the Pavilion Terrace and take part in the Pestaurant challenge.

For every MP who devoured at least three different insects, Rentokil donated £500 to Malaria No More, a charity Rentokil now works closely with.

Rentokil - Rob Gray

Rob Gray author of The Pest Detectives, a definitive history of Rentokil

Rentokil - Andy Ransom

CEO Andy Ransom

Rob Gray, author of the new book, and James Whiting, executive director of Malaria No More, completed the speaker line-up. The formal proceedings of the afternoon were concluded with the presentation of a cheque for £30,000 to Malaria No More. This amount has been raised by Rentokil employees, sales of the new book and from that £500 bug eating challenge to MPs.

Rentokil - cheque presentation

Left to right: Andy Ranson, Rob Gray, Chris Heaton-Harris MP and
James Whiting of Malaria No More

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