Jan & Arthur Watson British Empire Medal Investiture at the Riverside

Jan and Arthur Watson, co-owners of The Riverside Restaurant, were surprised and thrilled to both be awarded the BEM in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to the Hospitality Industry in the South West .


Below is a transcript of the award ceremony held at The Riverside on Saturday 12th December 2015 which was attended by friends, family and colleagues.  The award was made on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen by The Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset,  Mr Angus Campbell.


BEM for Janet Watson and Arthur Edmeston Watson – 12 December 2015

Welcome to the splendid Riverside Restaurant in West Bay for this very important occasion when Janet and Arthur Watson are both to be invested with the British Empire Medal which they were awarded in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list earlier this year.

I am delighted to see so many family and friends here today to witness this important ceremony.

National Honours are highly prized and respected and are only awarded to those those exceptional example, determination and commitment make and outstanding difference to others.

All those who know Janet and Arthur Watson will be aware of the tremendous work they have done, and are doing, for the local community within which they have worked since 1964 – 51 years!  They have developed the Riverside Restaurant to be a beacon for catering excellence in the South West specialising in seafood.  However, it is not only the outstanding cuisine and remarkable tourism draw that marks them out – although that, it has to be said is quite exceptional.  The Riverside Restaurant, under the guiding hands of Janet and Arthur Watson, has developed exemplary practice in sourcing local produce and in training and employing local people.   Creating such a centre of excellence, and winning a huge number of awards over the years, has supported the local and wider Dorset economy in a quite remarkable way.  If you add to that their personal dedication to sustainability and their regular support of local charities it becomes clear why we are here to honour Janet and Arthur Watson today.

However, before making this presentation I would like to tell you a little about the history of the British Empire Medal.

The BEM was established in 1922, to replace the Medal of the Order of the British Empire and is awarded for meritorious civil or military service, worthy of recognition by the Crown.

It was awarded to subjects of the United Kingdom until 1992, after which time it lay in abeyance in the UK, although it was presented in some Commonwealth realms.  The reintroduction of the Award was very warmly welcomed when it was brought out of abeyance to mark The Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen.

I will now ask Mrs Porter, Assistant Clerk to the Lieutenancy, to read the citation for Janet and Arthur Watson.


Presentation of the British Empire Medal to Janet Watson and Arthur Edmeston Watson for services to the hospitality industry in the South West

Janet and Arthur Watson have owned the Riverside Restaurant in West Bay since 1964.  It was then a simple cafe with trade limited to local fishermen, coach parties and people on camping holidays.  Since the 1980s, the cafe has been transformed into an award-winning seafood restaurant, contributing to the local economy and putting West Bay on the map.  Jan and Arthur Watson have always had a policy of recruiting locally and training staff themselves.  They were the first restaurateurs in the South West to build a reputation for sourcing local produce, with an ethos of sustainability and simplicity, and this has resulted in numerous prestigious awards.  These stretch from being voted one of The Observer newspaper’s top 10 Seafood Retaurants in 2004, to more recently receiving a number of Gold Award sin the Restaurant Category of the Taste of the West Flavour Awards.  Janet and Arthurs have also supported local charities by hosting fundraising events at their Riverside Restaurant.

It is now a great honour of me, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, to invest Mrs Janet Watson and Mr Arthur Edmeston Watson with the British Empire Medal, in recognition of their services to the Hospitality industry in the South West.