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17th June 2021


Giles Hilton

Giles Hilton, long-serving Shepherd Neame Head of Customer Relations, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Giles, who is also Chairman and Commercial Manager at Canterbury Rugby Club, was given the award in recognition of his services to Rugby Union Football in Kent.

Giles, 62, is proud to be “a Canterbury boy born and bred”, and has lived his entire life in Kent. He currently lives at Selling with wife Phillipa, who he married back in 1987. They have two sons, Will and Guy.

He joined Shepherd Neame in 1997 and was a District Manager in both Tenanted and Retail before becoming Head of Free Trade. Prior to joining the company Giles and Phillipa were licensees at Shepherd Neame pub The Granville in Lower Hardres near Canterbury. Phillipa is a fully-qualified chef.

Giles’ father was a fruit farmer but lost two thirds of his cropping acreage in the Great Storm of 1987. Giles and Phillipa were married the day after.

A lifelong rugby fan, his association with Canterbury Rugby Club started back in 1976 when he made his playing debut for the club’s Colts side away at Ashford, suffering a broken arm in the second half of the game.

By 1978 he was playing for the first team, starting at second row at home to Maidstone, and over more than 40 years with the club has performed a number of jobs off the field, from junior club rep to social manager to even clearing out the drains!

During his time at Canterbury, the club has gone from strength to strength, winning the Kent Cup on five occasions and progressing from level six through to level three of the English Rugby Union.

They currently run five senior men’s teams, a senior ladies’ side and a full age group programme covering ages six to 18.  A girls section covering ages 10-15 will be launched later this year, alongside a men’s under-21s side. The club also hosts Rugby Tots session every Saturday morning.

A wheelchair rugby section was launched six years ago while the club also has a thriving touch rugby programme.

Giles said: “I’m proud to receive this MBE because it recognises all the hard work of the volunteers at Canterbury Rugby Club over the years. The award is for everyone connected with the club, all of whom have played a part in moving the club forward over the past two decades. I am also deeply thankful to Phillipa, my sons and my family for their unwavering support,

“The award is also recognition of the community respect that the club has won in Canterbury. It’s a big pat on the back for everyone.

“We have more than 20 players in our ranks, both male and female, who have represented England at both wheelchair and touch rugby, and have close links with both University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University. We also assist local schools with coaching and are jointly involved with an academy programme at Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys.”

Jonathan Neame, Chief Executive of Shepherd Neame, said: “We all know that Giles has made tireless efforts over very many years to promote and develop rugby at Canterbury and support the game more generally within Kent.

“This achievement is richly deserved. Well done Giles. Everyone at Shepherd Neame is very proud of you.” 


About Shepherd Neame

Shepherd Neame has been based in the market town of Faversham, Kent for over 300 years. Perhaps best known for great British classic ales such as Spitfire, which carries the Royal Warrant, its diverse portfolio includes Five Grain Lager, Bear Island East Coast Pale Ale and Bear Island Triple Hopped Lager, and the Whitstable Bay Collection. It also brews international lagers under licence including Samuel Adams Boston Lager, and is the sole UK distributor for premium Thai lager Singha. The independent family business boasts an award-winning visitor centre and more than 300 pubs and hotels throughout London and the South East, from the historic heart of the City to the Kent coastline.

Press release from Shepherd Neame

For further information please contact Communications Executive Johnny Homer on 01795 542061, email or visit