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STRICT EMBARGO Not for publication, broadcast or use on club tapes before 00.01 hours on 21st April 2004.

Hookah Supplier wins Queens Award

A unique rural business that has influenced the traditional Middle Eastern culture of smoking hookah pipes has won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise, it will be announced on April 21st.

Swift-Lite Charcoal Company, based in Battle, East Sussex, manufactures charcoal tablets that are used as a heat source for incense burners and hookah pipes. 75% of the company’s product is exported to Europe, the USA, North and South Africa, Israel and the Middle East, where the high quality charcoal tablets have directly influenced the way hookah pipes are smoked.

Established in 1983, Swift-Lite’s exports have increased by 58% over the past three years because their product makes smoking hookah’s clean and simple. This has resulted in encouraging the use of pipes away from the traditional preserve of cafes into the often less intimidating environment of hotels and homes.

To produce the high quality of tablets Swift-Lite Managing Director Steve Barnes developed a unique process using pharmaceutical technology. “We are delighted that the Queen’s Award recognises that we have turned a traditional rural craft into a sophisticated and successful export business,” says Mr Barnes.

Petley Woods, the area of woodland in Marley Lane now occupied by Swift-Lite Charcoal has been used for charcoal burning for centuries. Situated on the outskirts of the historic town of Battle, charcoal pits dating back to the iron age have been identified in the woods close to Swift-Lite’s modern industrial unit where new technology combines with an ancient craft to produce the award winning charcoal tablets.

Notes for Editors

Swift-Lite employs 35 people, 6 of whom come from Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq, where hookah smoking, or shisha, is a cultural tradition. In the UK Hookah Pipes are increasingly being used in cafes and restaurants in towns like Hastings, a few miles from Swift-Lite’s factory in Battle, where some of the company’s immigrant employees enjoy a sharing a shisha with local inhabitants

Hookah’s are made for smoking specially prepared tobacco such as Mu-essel, a flavoured mixture of tobacco and treacle, as well as fruit. Swift-Lite charcoal is a clean and convenient heat source replacing the more traditional, but difficult to use, natural charcoal. Swift-Lite charcoal lights instantly and will burn for up to one hour.

Queens Award: Later this year there will be a formal presentation of the Grant of Approval and Award to Swift-Lite by the Lord-Lieutenant of Sussex .

For further information and images please contact Chris Lee, Talk Up, Tel: 01424 204024, email

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Talk Up in the following categories: Manufacturing, Engineering & Energy, for more information visit