Roads for good: how road signs are providing a lifeline for veterans and disabled people

05 April 2023
Image of the M1, M8 road sign.
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For 100 years road numbers have appeared on signs across the country to help people get to their destination safely. But who makes the signs that you see all the time?

  • Signs manufactured from the Royal British Legion Industries factory in Kent – used across the country – are providing a vital lifeline to veterans and disabled people
  • Pledge from National Highways supply chain to spend £1m a year purchasing road signs from the Royal British Legion Industries, which will help support the charity in its work to help veterans and disabled people

An army of veterans and people with disabilities are producing road signs at the Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) through its social enterprise, Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company (BBMC), at their factory in Kent.

Used on England’s motorways and major A-roads for National Highways, these signs are not just helping drivers but also helping veterans and disabled people. And thanks to a new pledge from Vinci (Ringway), Amey, Colas, H W Martin, Chevron and Highway Traffic Management, the factory will be able to continue operating and supporting the people who rely on the support it provides.

Michelle Ferguson, Managing Director of RBLI’s social enterprises, said:

“As the country faces ongoing challenges with the cost-of-living crisis, it is more important than ever that businesses come together to make meaningful choices that have a demonstrable, positive impact on peoples’ lives.

“This ongoing commitment from National Highways and their supply chain means we have been able to promote military veterans to more senior positions, hire more people with disabilities and for the whole of RBLI to become a real living wage employer.

“We cannot thank National Highways enough – together we will genuinely change peoples’ lives.”

Roads Minister Richard Holden said:

“We owe our veterans a great debt of gratitude and we’re proud of the work National Highways is doing to boost employment opportunities through its road sign partnership.

“We have a long history of supporting those who serve in our armed forces and together with the additional £33 million funding for veteran housing and accessibility equipment, we are continuing to offer our support.”

National Highways Executive Director of Commercial & Procurement Malcolm Dare said:

“Signs play a vital role for drivers all around the world, helping people get to their destinations safely. We’re pleased to be supporting such a great cause as they continue to produce signs that are used on our roads, and in turn helping to support the veterans and disabled people that rely on this vital work.”

Amey has worked in partnership with the RBLI since 2014. The partnership, which has produced more than 20,000 road signs so far, has supported more than 150 military veterans and people with disabilities. Amey and the RBLI celebrated their long-term partnership by bringing together industry leaders and local businesses to discuss what more could be done to support military veterans and other disadvantaged groups.

Peter Anderson, Managing Director of Transport Infrastructure at Amey, said:

“Amey’s relationship with the RBLI stretches back to 2014. It’s a cherished relationship which demonstrates how social enterprises and businesses can work together successfully to provide industry-leading, value for money products and services and create tangible, positive impact on peoples’ lives long-term. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve collectively delivered so far and what we will continue to achieve in the future.

“Today’s pledge with the wider supply chain to commit to an ongoing spend with the RBLI is an excellent step forward. A guaranteed, sustainable pipeline of work will enable RBLI to invest in the latest technology, which creates operational efficiencies and offers even more vital employment opportunities to those who need them most.”

Since April 2021, Chevron Traffic Management have been purchasing their signs from the RBLI, helping to support veterans and people with disabilities. Chevron Traffic Management have pledged to spend £150,000

over the financial year, creating a sustainable pipeline of work to support the factory.

Matt West, Client Director at Chevron Traffic Management said:

“Chevron Traffic Management has a long and proud history of supporting our Armed Forces. For many years, Chevron Traffic Management has been providing long-term career opportunities for veterans who successfully bring the skills gained in the forces to our operations. Our involvement with RBLI is a natural extension of this support. It is a mutually beneficial partnership which enhances our supply chain while supporting veterans and people with disabilities. We have committed £150,000 to the purchase of signs in this financial year which will provide an strong pipeline of work for RNLI and we look forward to building a long-term, sustainable partnership.”

Ringway is already committed to supporting Britain’s military veterans through its partnerships with RBLI, Building Heroes and BBMC, which is one of the UK’s leading social enterprises providing employment to military veterans, as well as to those with disabilities.

Mitesh Solanki, Ringway Managing Director, said:

“This investment by National Highways in the RBLI is a huge boost for the charity. The work they and BBMC do transforms people’s lives and the quality of the signage produced is excellent. It’s great to be involved and collaborate with such a rewarding charity and be part of a highways sector that’s trying to make a positive difference to the communities we serve. We look forward to growing this relationship in the future and develop more opportunities for veterans.”

Faical Lahmamsi, Chief Executive Officer of Colas said:

“Colas is committed to supporting the defence and armed forces community and are proud to have worked in partnership with Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company (BBMC), the Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) since 2019, producing signage in our company depots across the UK, and to keep communities moving safely on our roads.

We look forward to developing our relationship with RBLI and continuing to support, and create new opportunities for our veterans.”

David Shaw, Director of HW Martin (Traffic Management) Ltd said:

“HW Martin (Traffic Management) Ltd forged a relationship with RBLI, Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, in March 2020 and pledged to help them grow after major production losses suffered during the pandemic. In 2021 we commissioned over £21,000 worth of signage and in

2022 more than tripled our support by placing over £80,000 worth of orders.

“We chose to explore a partnership with Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing enterprise primarily because they supply high-quality products and meet our stringent requirements at a competitive price. The bonus is that profits go into helping soldiers integrate back into civilian life.

“The RBLI works differently to many of our other suppliers so we’ve changed the way we procure our signage to smooth out any peaks and troughs in their manufacturing programme. This ensures they can employ staff all year round which is far more beneficial to the reassimilation programme. We are delighted to become part of RBLIs story making a tangible difference to the individuals they support with each sign we purchase.”

Greg Baldwin, HTM's Managing Director said:

"We were pleased to be involved with the initial pledge 12 months ago and start our relationship with the RBLI. Being one of the smaller organisations within the pledge, we initially pledged £15,000, however, we were able to increase that value in the past year to over £55,000. The biggest catalyst for this increase was by utilising RBLI as one of our suppliers of signage for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. It showed the capabilities of the organisation and has created a real long-term relationship that we are excited to continue with over the next 12 months."

National Highways re-signed the Armed Forces Covenant in 2020, recognising the remarkable contribution of the armed forces community of regular service personnel, reservists, veterans, cadet force adult volunteers and the families who support them. This includes additional leave for training, support for those with family away on service and recruitment efforts to support members of the armed forces community – particularly service leavers and veterans – considering a career at National Highways.

In recognition of the support given to the armed forces community employed by the company, National Highways received the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme gold award from the Ministry of Defence in 2020.

For more information about the National Highways Armed Forces programme visit

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