By Paul Brown
Villa's official printing partner Crescent Press has revealed that it was one of six select, top-secret task forces entrusted by Royal Mail to print the limited edition Olympic and Paralympic stamps during London 2012.
The firm, whose main base is in Solihull, was one of six national printers selected to produce hundreds of thousands of stamps - and was sworn to secrecy until now, as LOCOG prepares to disband.
The business, which employs 20 people at its main site, met with Royal Mail at the beginning of the year and was subject to rigorous checks and audits before it was awarded the prestigious contract.
Managing director Andy Matthews, who founded Crescent Press in 1997, said: "The whole stamp-printing contract had to be shrouded in secrecy.
"In addition to being confident that our workforce was up to standard and the equipment could cope with the huge quantities and fast turnaround, there were also huge security issues affecting the contract.
"It was imperative that the location of all six printers was not known.
"Essentially, we were printing money. The stamps retail at 60 pence each, so we had hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of them on the premises.
"Either myself or sales director Graeme Thurman had to be on-site throughout to ensure maximum security, as all waste products related to the project had to be locked away before being collected by Royal Mail and disposed of," he said.
The six national sites were located in Solihull, Preston, London, Edinburgh, Swindon and Attleborough in Norfolk.
Crescent Press also had the added responsibility of being the contingency for four of the other sites in the event of machine or power failure.
Graeme Thurman said: "There was a very clear process. Royal Mail opened its select post offices on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the Games so that the stamps of gold medallists went on sale the day after their victory.
"Within one hour of a British athlete winning a gold medal, we received the art work. The stamps had to be printed at all sites within an hour of that, then trimmed and collated into the unique gold medal bags and ready for the Royal Mail drivers to collect at 7am the following morning so that they could go on sale at 9am.
"It was a seamless process and the majority of medallists were announced late afternoon so that the stamps were completed by the evening.
"However, Super Saturday was a day of mixed feelings as we worked around the clock to mark six different successes!
"We were watching Jessica Ennis being awarded with her medal on the TV as her stamp was being printed, swiftly followed by Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah. It was a euphoric night but probably the one where we were most aware of the pressure!"
Andrew Hammond, director of Royal Mail Stamps and Collectibles, said: "The next day stamps could not have happened without the help of a dedicated team of suppliers working together from artwork through to final delivery point. Crescent Press played a key role in that process.
"The achievement of printing next day Olympic stamps needed an Olympic effort from all our suppliers. The commitment shown by Crescent press to meet our exacting standards against such tight timescales is testament to the quality of the team there.
"They were certainly the right team to work in partnership with us on this amazing project," he added.
Crescent Press moved to its Stirling Road site in 2010 and since the relocation business has increased significantly, with the business being awarded Print Partnership status with Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Clubs.
The business is planning further expansion in January 2013.
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