David Parkin on Celine Dion, being tickled by ukeleles and sharking skills

IT’S been a musical week.

And I’ve not even been to Glastonbury.

Much to the chagrin, I’m sure, of the BBC, which put so much effort into the music festival it almost hurt.

I couldn’t think of anywhere worse to go.

I’m sure there are people working for the Beeb that would not understand that statement.

I heard a BBC correspondent interviewed on Radio 4’s Today programme that sounded so smug to be there she could hardly articulate the experience.

Fortunate, may be. Smug? Get over yourself, love, it’s a music festival, not caring for orphans in the Sudan.

Meanwhile I was experiencing Celine Dion at the Leeds Arena on Sunday evening and the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain in a marquee at the Grassington Festival on Wednesday.

Rock on.

I was invited on a clay pigeon shooting day by wealth management business Brook Dobson Brear last week.

Well they don’t actually call themselves a wealth manager, I like their slogan – your personal finance director.

Anyway, Tim Brear and Andrew Brook-Dobson and their colleagues were great hosts – so much so I’m saving up so I have enough money for them to manage for me.

It was good to see several familiar faces there – Stephen Moore of PwC and Ian Beaumont of KPMG as well as Matt Lowe, chief executive of Lawrence Tomlinson’s LNT Group.

It is perhaps ironic that Matt once worked for Royal Bank of Scotland, the institution Tomlinson skewered in his report for the government on the banks’ treatment of businesses.

Back to the clay day and Ian Beaumont, a talented but down-to-earth character who lacks the ego you often get in Big Four partners, invited me to the KPMG box to see Celine Dion.

I can’t say I was a fan beforehand but you can’t knock a modern-day diva who can certainly deliver on stage.

That’s Celine, not Ian.

She might be worth an estimated £500m, but the Canadian-born singer’s fortune was worth little when her husband and brother both died of cancer within two days of each other in January last year.

It just goes to show that money isn’t everything.

Meanwhile on Wednesday this week I drove across the rain-strewn Yorkshire countryside to reach Grassington to see the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain performing at the annual shindig in the Dales.

I was a guest of old friend Martin Allison, a long-time supporter of the Grassington Festival and a man for whom enthusiasm is an understatement.

He’d tackle doing a tax return with gusto.

The dry-witted seven-piece orchestra were a revelation and had the audience – a mixed bunch mainly clad in fleeces and cagoules, but with a pair of open-towed sandals and a balaclava thrown in for good measure – in raptures.

So forget Glasto, there is only one G-fest for me in future.


IT was off to Victoria Gate this week to the casino in the new shopping centre for an early start breakfast event to watch the latest British & Irish Lions tour match against the Chiefs on their tour of New Zealand.

The hosts were research firm Researchbods, recruitment business Network Marketing and Trinity McQueen.

To be fair, I always thought Trinity McQueen was a drag act in a Leeds show bar, not an award-winning insight agency.

The Lions took an early lead only to be pegged back for a draw by the Chiefs.

Not great ahead of tomorrow’s second test, but I missed most of it as one of the guests was talking me through a recent accountancy audit of his firm.

It was the conversational equivalent of a spear tackle.


DELOITTE’S office in Leeds was the destination on Monday evening for a dinner to introduce key figures from the business community to the Maggie’s Yorkshire charity.

I was compering the event and that job is always made easy when you have inspirational individuals to introduce to the audience.

Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity has become the first of a series of high profile ambassadors for Maggie’s Yorkshire, which is raising money to deliver a Maggie’s Centre in the grounds of St James’s Hospital in Leeds.

Maggie’s Yorkshire will be an oasis of calm for cancer sufferers and their families to get support from experts or even just chat over a cup of tea.

Martin Jenkins, the head of Deloitte in Leeds, chairs the Maggie’s Yorkshire campaign board and was able to inform guests that the campaign to raise at least £6m to build the centre has made incredible progress to the extent where work can start on the building before the end of this year with a target for it to be open before the end of 2018.

Sir Gary gave a very personal and emotional account of his late wife Helen’s diagnosis with cancer and said a Maggie’s Centre would have provided much needed support for his family.

After dinner we heard from Yorkshire Rows, a team of four formidable working mums from Yorkshire who dared to dream.

They are the first women to row across the North Sea and then went one better and set a Guinness World Record for rowing 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

We heard how against the odds they battled the elements in a boat across the Atlantic, leaving La Gomera in the Canary Islands and missing Christmas with their families to arrive in Antigua two months later.

They recounted stories of rowing in the nude, seeing passing whales and braving shark-infested waters to clean barnacles off the bottom of their boat.

Apparently one of the team, Janette Benaddi, became quite proficient at spotting sharks.

I said those skills would be useful in a few Leeds bars.

Have a great weekend.

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