David Parkin on banking on Steve Cram and a night with a Blue Nun in Frankfurt

WHEN it comes to great British athletes, after Sebastian Coe (he’s a bit busy at the moment), they don’t come much bigger than Steve Cram.

So I was delighted to get the news that the Olympic runner turner top TV commentator has agreed to take part in this year’s Lord’s Taverners Balloon Debate on the eve of the Headingley Test Match on May 18.

And I have David Maybury, head of business and private banking for Yorkshire Bank in Leeds and his colleagues to thank for delivering this big name to our balloon basket.

Steve is an ambassador to the bank and it has signed up to support the event we are organising at the Queens Hotel.

We are close to securing some equally impressive individuals to join him in the balloon so if you fancy joining us for what is one of the most unusual and fun charity events in the Yorkshire business calendar then just reply to this email. Tables of 10 are £795.

I caught up with David Maybury and his team at the launch this week of Yorkshire Bank’s new Leeds Business and Private Banking Centre on Briggate.

Just up the paved shopping street from Harvey Nichols and the Victoria Quarter, the banking centre is based in a historic building but inside is as modern as they come.

It was fitting that Yorkshire knight Sir Gary Verity was there to officially open the new base. As the man who delivered the Tour de France Grand Depart to Yorkshire and then the Tour de Yorkshire, he said it was great to see a thriving Yorkshire Bank.

He looked jet lag free despite having just flown in from Australia where he’d been at the Tour Down Under.

The bank is working with Sir Gary’s Welcome to Yorkshire as a sponsor of the coveted sprinter’s jersey in the Tour de Yorkshire race and is involved in a wider community partnership called Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries which encourages people to donate bicycles so every child in the region can have access to a bike.

David Maybury told the 150 guests at the event that it was a great time to start a business or take out a mortgage with a loan from Yorkshire Bank and Sir Big V pointed at me and said: “There you are Parky, that’s your three challenges: start a business, take out a mortgage and get on your bike!”

Whether I can do all of them remains to be seen, I was just pleased with the name check.

The launch of the new centre comes as Yorkshire Bank is just days away from an exciting new chapter in its 156-year history.

The bank and its sister organisation, Clydesdale Bank, are becoming independent from owner National Australia Bank and listing on the London Stock Exchange.

A bright new dawn of independence beckons and what’s good for Yorkshire Bank has got to be good for Yorkshire.


WHEN I asked somebody what Frankfurt was like they said imagine Canary Wharf with a bit of Hampstead plonked alongside it.

Arriving in Germany’s banking capital last Friday for a weekend event hosted by Rocco Forte Hotels at its magnificent Villa Kennedy property, I could see the similarity to London’s financial district – huge glass and silver skyscrapers.

Later, during a walking tour of Frankfurt we walked past the cathedral into a picturesque square of buildings that would have graced a chocolate box.

“How old do you think this square is?” asked our guide.

Most of us suggested it must date back to somewhere between the 16th and 18th centuries.

“No, 1987,” she answered, explaining that the whole square was rebuilt based on how it originally looked.

“There are parts of Disneyworld that are older than this,” I said, attracting sharp glances from my Germanic hosts.

I’m a big fan of German cities like Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart as short break destinations but you probably wouldn’t head to Frankfurt unless you were working there.

This city which has a population of 700,000 is smaller than Leeds but home to the biggest financial organisations in Germany as well as the European Central Bank – making it unlikely to top Nigel Farage’s list of weekend break destinations.

I had an inkling that its sights might not fill a whole weekend when our guide on a tram tour of the city pointed out a highlight.

“That is our zoo, home to a wide variety of animals.”

Warming to her theme, she later revealed: “At the top of that hill is the Upper Park and at the bottom of the hill is the Lower Park.”

I nearly missed that gem because I’d been gazing round the tram carriage marvelling at the large number of females that work in event and travel management.

After I’d unleashed some moves on the dance floor later that evening, I marvelled at the number of women in event and travel management that did their best to avoid me.

I thought the Lambada was popular?

Perhaps it was the large quantity of Blue Nun I consumed.

Before you castigate me for bad taste, Blue Nun has transformed from a cheap, sweet glugging wine into a trendy “eis wein” which has a cheeky bouquet which reminded me of a 1947 Chateau d’Yquem.

Well it did at two in the morning.

I’ve known about Sir Rocco Forte’s hotels ever since I interviewed him when he opened the St David’s Hotel & Spa in Cardiff in the 1990s and later while at TheBusinessDesk.com we held events at his Lowry Hotel in Manchester.

Neither of those two properties remain in the Rocco Forte portfolio, having been sold as the group acquired a host of hotels in some of the finest cities on the continent – Berlin, Florence, Rome, St Petersburg among them.

In the UK it operates the historic Browns Hotel in Mayfair and the Balmoral which stands proudly on Princes Street in Edinburgh.

One chap among the group of us guests told me he’d been to Frankfurt before when he had to book “talent” into luxury hotels like the Villa Kennedy for the MTV European Music Awards.

“Kim Kardashian is tiny and Kanye West might have a certain image, but he was lovely with me,” he confided.

I made a mental note just in case Dave Jones and Simon Palmer want me to book the one woman industry that is Kim Kardashian for their next Suits & Vinyl event.


CECIL Parkinson, the former Tory cabinet minister and favourite of Mrs Thatcher, who later became Lord Parkinson, died this week at the age of 84.

He once served on the board of Yorkshire business InTechnology. I remember its founder, entrepreneur Peter Wilkinson, telling me that the former politician was not just a name that looked good on the letterhead, but really added value.

Private Eye editor and Have I Got News For You panellist Ian Hislop once hosted a media awards event for Yorkshire Bank and I remember him telling the audience that his favourite front cover of the satirical magazine had been when William Hague, on becoming Tory party leader, appointed Cecil Parkinson as its chairman.

The bubble coming out of Hague’s mouth on the photo, said: “I’m going to bring unity to the party.”

To which Parkinson replied: “Oh good, she sounds like a goer.”

Have a great weekend.

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