Geoff Greaves, owner and operator of the Merlin Cinemas Chain, is to receive the Exhibition Achievement Award – sponsored by the UK Cinema Association – at this year’s Screen Awards.

Geoff joined the industry at the age of 16, working for ABC Cinemas before moving on to CIC. He eventually branched out on his own in 1990, buying and renovating the then dilapidated Savoy Cinema in Penzance. From those early beginnings, Geoff’s company has gone from strength to strength, now operating 42 screens across 14 sites.

What makes the growth of the Merlin circuit particularly remarkable is its extraordinary geographical spread, ranging from the most Southerly UK cinema site at Penzance in the company’s homeland of West Cornwall to the most Northerly UK site at Thurso in the Scottish Highlands. The circuit also encompasses sites at Cromer and Prestatyn, on the Norfolk and North Welsh coasts respectively.

Reacting to today’s announcement, Geoff said:

“I am honoured to accept this award, not just for myself, but at least as much for the people who have surrounded me and shared my vision as I have looked to build Merlin Cinemas since its inception.”

Representing colleagues across the industry, Phil Clapp, CEO of the UK Cinema Association, commented:

“I am delighted that we are making this Award to Geoff. It represents long-overdue recognition of the creativity and commitment that he has brought to the independent cinema sector. Each of his 14 sites bears testament to his personal dedication and energy.”

Reflecting the recognition by colleagues in film distribution of the contribution that Geoff has made to getting their films the widest possible exposure, Andrew Turner, Director of Sales for UK and Ireland and 20th Century Fox added:

‘I know that colleagues not just at Fox but across other UK film distribution companies will join me in welcoming this deserved recognition for Geoff Greaves’ contribution to our industry.  Geoff’s and enthusiasm for the cinema business is clear at every one of his sites. He is a shining example of the contribution that so many smaller operators make in bringing the big screen experience to communities across the country.’

The Screen Awards will take place at The Brewery, London, on Thursday 20 October