David Parkin on career envy, a racing winner in the Dales and a sales success

GIVEN that the last time I went to a Test Match I saw one wicket fall all day, I hoped I might see a few batsmen out at Headingley last Friday.

On top of watching Jonny Bairstow achieve an emotional 140 we saw 15 wickets tumble during the day as England were bowled out and then proceeded to skittle through the Sri Lankan team.

And the company was good too, with Eversheds main men Robin Johnson and Paul Cotton great hosts for a relaxed day sitting in the East Stand.

The atmosphere around us was jovial – other than the odd bit of tutting from Yorkshire members annoyed at fellow spectators getting up to get a pint or answer a call of nature during an over.

I’m assuming they were Yorkshire members – the Millets anoraks and Mother’s Pride sandwiches in ice cream tubs probably gave them away.

I don’t know what they made of our pre-prepared lunch in Eversheds-liveried cool bags.

Although a salad of olives, artichokes and oranges was almost a step too far even for my experienced palate.

But washed down with a good pint of Black Sheep bitter and anything tastes good.

It was good to catch up with Robin Johnson, an international dealmaker extraordinaire, but a man who is as loyal to his smaller Yorkshire-based privately owned clients as he is to the many multi-national corporations he deals with.

It is a skilled balance, but he achieves it with an enthusiasm that defies long hours, jet lag and and not enough time spent with the family.

He once told me he envied the “good life” I have going to every event he’d like to go to.

I think my ability to write creatively must have got out of control, because I’d swap being a local scribbler for a life as an international deal-doer any day.


THERE was a brief reminder of my days as regional journalistic royalty last week at the 15th birthday party for Source Public Relations.

Seasoned PR men Peter Downey and Steve Clark launched the business a decade and a half ago and have added talent along the way including the bearded wonder Daniel Kennedy and newer addition Martha Phillips, who brings back fond memories of Charlie’s Angels with her Farrah Fawcett-style feathered hairdo.

Peter gave an entertaining speech thanking clients new and old and even had time to credit the help of journalists like me who had published their press releases and supported them from the start.

To be fair to the Source team, they certainly reciprocated later when I left the Yorkshire Post and started TheBusinessDesk.com and we were trying to persuade public relations people to give us the same stories they distributed to the traditional media.

Life’s far too short to bother remembering those that didn’t help. It is more important to remember those that did at a time when they didn’t have to.

Peter, Steve and Daniel certainly did that and so it was great to go and raise a glass to Source’s continued success.


IF I’m ever asked what my biggest weakness is then I say I can’t sell.

It is not a skill you can learn, I moaned to Martin Allison, during a coaching session as part of my membership of peer mentoring group The Alternative Board.

Nonsense, he said, and packed me off on one of the training days organised by Quota, the sales performance system for which he holds the franchise for the UK.

Given it was the morning after the Lord’s Taverners Balloon Debate last week, I wasn’t holding out much hope of keeping my concentration for the whole course. If I could struggle through to the first coffee break without nodding off, I thought I’d have done well.

But my initial cynicism was banished as attendees – who weren’t just sales people and included recruiters, those involved in social enterprise and talented lawyers Louise Handley and Paul Ball from Leeds firm 3volution – were plunged into an engaging day of learning and doing all based around the Quota board game concept.

The event was held at Shine, the former Victorian school building converted into a thriving social enterprise in Harehills in Leeds and I left with a spring in my step, realising that sales is not about slick patter but process, planning and having a complete understanding of your product and your target customers.

I’d highly recommend a day spent with Quota. Check out www.quotagame.com


THERE isn’t much that beats a stunning Sunday spent in the Yorkshire Dales.

No wonder Sir Gary Verity has achieved so much at Welcome to Yorkshire when he’s got raw material like that to operate with.

Last Sunday I headed up to Middleham, once home to King Richard III but now populated by Yorkshire racing royalty.

There are a host of racing yards dotted around the beautiful town and my destination was one of its newer and smaller stables, Little Spigot, home to Foulrice Park Racing, which held its annual open day.

The stables, which has around 25 horses, is run by trainer Patrick Holmes in partnership with Colin and Ailsa Stirling.

Those in the business world will know Colin from his previous role in private equity at Spirit Capital Partners, Bridgepoint Capital and Aberdeen Asset Management.

Nestled in the countryside just above Middleham, Foulrice Park Racing aims to bring something different to racehorse ownership, not keeping owners at arms length, but giving them a personal and bespoke service and welcoming them to the yard whenever they want to visit their horse.

The staff – and even the horses – reflect that ethos and there is a friendly feel to the whole place which adds even more to the experience of being at the top of the stunning Yorkshire Dales.

The horses are all in beautiful condition and each has its own personality.

I even forgave one of them, Lil Sophella, for not tipping me off she was going to win at York two weeks ago at the very nice price of 11-1.


NEWS this week that a Leeds entrepreneur behind a successful party night operating in the UK, Puerto Banus near Marbella and Dubai has unveiled plans for a contemporary Chinese restaurant in his home city.

Ray Chan is the promoter behind Candypants Events.

Given where he operates and the name of his company, the as yet unnamed restaurant is unlikely to rely on subtle and understated design.

I don’t know why, but it reminds me of a conversation with a former colleague from Halifax.

One evening after a few drinks, she confided in me that she had a tattoo.

“But it’s not prominent,” she said, indicating an area somewhere near her hip.

What was the inked symbol she was talking of, I asked?

“Two cherries…dead classy.”

Have a great weekend.

1 thought on “David Parkin on career envy, a racing winner in the Dales and a sales success”

  1. I wonder if your comment about Millets anoraks and Mothers Pride sandwiches was intended to come across as snobbishly as I think it has?

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