A Swindon man who was diverted from a life of crime through working as a scaffolder has been praised for giving his employees a similar second-chance.

Coles Scaffolding won a special recognition award at the construction industry's Total Awards.

Judges were so impressed with owner Martyn Cole’s compassionate and open-minded hiring policy, that they created the award specifically to recognise it.

Martyn, 38, explained: “I was kicked out of school, I was a tearaway from school. After that I got into a bad group and I was doing drugs and drinking.”

“Then I was given the opportunity to work as a scaffolder. The job saved me, without it I’d be in prison, and eventually I was able to set up on my own.

Now he’s in charge of his own scaffolding firm he’s repaying the favour with his own employees, offering opportunities they wouldn’t get elsewhere.

“I believe you should always give everyone a chance, if they want to change they will change,” he explained.

“If someone has a criminal record, or a bad past you shouldn’t judge a person on that alone.

“We had a lad who had been in prison and on paper that doesn’t always look good. He sent off a bunch of CVs and didn’t get a response.

“But since he’s been here he’s never missed a day so by giving him that opportunity it’s paid off for me and for him.”

Martyn was thrilled with the award, but felt what he does shouldn’t be seen as award-worthy.

“The award win was great, I couldn’t believe it, but it shouldn’t be extraordinary, it should be the norm. If they come in and do the work and progress, it shows that it is working.

“The one thing that frustrates me is that we’re such a small company, everything we fund is us as a company, multinational companies turnover billions and choose not to do it.”

Carrie Hilton, presenter and CEO of the Total Awards says she was blown away by the example Martyn was setting.

“Martyn, the Managing Director of Coles had a rocky start to life and managed to turn himself around. Now he’s hiring people that were in the same boat as him. We had to recognise that because it isn’t something you see every day.

“As a role model for younger people that have been in prison or had issues with drugs, he’s proven that you can make something for your self and take yourself to the top of a company. We’d like to get other companies to follow his example.”

The company has previously made the news for hiring 32-year-old Todd Scanlon, a man with Down’s Syndrome, who has now worked for them for three years and has won several awards himself.