WHILE the rest of the country basked in sunshine, I went to Bridlington for the cloud last week.
This corner of the East Yorkshire coast didn’t see the sun until mid-afternoon last Friday but there was plenty of brightness in Bridlington Spa where the annual The Business Day conference was taking place.
This event was originally launched as a spin-off to Mike Firth’s Yorkshire International Business Convention in Harrogate.
Started in Hull by property entrepreneur Paul Sewell, it moved up the coast to Brid and is now run by former East Yorkshire Council leader Stephen Parnaby.
Last week’s event attracted several hundred business people from Hull and East Yorkshire to hear speakers ranging from Clare Balding to Keith Harris, the City banker turned chairman of the Football League.
It was hosted by larger-than-life broadcaster and former MP Giles Brandreth in a black woolly jumper with a red heart on the front.
The conference had a seaside theme, complete with ice cream van, candy floss stall, stuffed seagulls on the balcony and a full size helter skelter.
I was invited to compere a breakout session at the event sponsored by successful Hull firms Wykeland Group, Beal Homes and Chameleon Business Interiors.
I told the audience that if it was me hosting the main event then I would have launched proceedings by arriving on the helter skelter.
But that’s just me, a flamboyant showman at heart – minus the woolly jumper.
Our session at the start of the day, focused on how the partnership between businesses and local children’s charities helps grow the potential of our future generations.
What an uplifting and positive subject to kick off the event.
We had speakers representing three charities outlining how they each uniquely support disadvantaged children providing experiences that broaden horizons and raise aspirations, helping transform their childhood to bring out greater potential for when they become adults.
It says a great deal about the three sponsors of the event, entrepreneurs Dominic Gibbons of property group Wykeland, Richard Beal of housebuilder Beal Homes and Shaun Watts of workplace fit out specialist Chameleon Business Interiors, not just that they are supporting these great charities, but that they wanted the charities themselves to talk about their own amazing work in the community in and around Hull and East Yorkshire.
And if there is any doubt why we need all of these charities to succeed, you only need to look at the statistics, which make stark reading.
With over one in three children living in poverty, Hull has been ranked as the third most deprived city in the country where unemployment rates are almost double the national average.
Run With It, represented by director Lisa Dawson, offers diverse educational and physical activity programmes for youngsters, allowing them to learn in exciting environments such as Hull City’s MKM Stadium and Wykeland’s impressive Flemingate Shopping Centre in Beverley.
From Yorkshire Children’s Charity, Georgia Hanson, trust & foundations manager and Annabel Robinson, head of events, spoke about its work providing grants to disadvantaged children across the region and its Great Yorkshire Build scheme to deliver state-of-the-art facilities to schools.
Rose James, CEO at Hull and East Yorkshire Children’s University, talked about its work with children growing up in disadvantaged areas of Hull and East Yorkshire who may not have the same opportunities as others.
The charity aims “to light up every path that a child could take and help create dreams for the future”
It does this by providing experiences that broaden horizons and raise aspirations such as a day at a local business learning about the industry or a sleepover in the Natural History Museum, which sounds fun.
All the charities spoke about how they could not deliver what they do without the support, both in time and money, of local businesses and it was great to see them engaged in conversation with several business people at the end of the session.
They had certainly done their job in underlining the importance of growing the potential of our future generations whilst they are still young and developing.
LAST week’s conference saw a speech by Rachel Fellows, former head of public relations at Asda who is now ‘Chair of the Collaborative CEO and Group Communications Director, Bettys & Taylors Group’.
I didn’t manage to see her speech so I can’t tell you what her title means and what her responsibilities are.
But it sounds like it was created by a company that can’t decide who its CEO should be – or can afford not to bother to choose.
KEITH Harris, one of the speakers at the Bridlington event, has had a fascinating career in high finance – banker to Rupert Murdoch when he launched Sky and retail giant Wal-Mart – and football where he has advised on the acquisition of Premier League clubs including West Ham, Aston Villa, Newcastle, Chelsea and Manchester City.
A Manchester United fan, he led the £1bn Red Knights consortium that tried to buy the club and, from his comments, he clearly has little time for the current owners, the Glazer family.
Harris has also been chairman of Wembley Stadium and for a brief period, was chairman of the Football League, back in the days when it had signed a big broadcasting deal with ITV Digital that ultimately led to its collapse.
Harris said he advised the Football League clubs he represented that they would have to cut their cloth accordingly with the loss of such lucrative TV revenues but they refused and he resigned after a heated board meeting at the Churchill Hotel in London.
As Harris walked out of the entrance of the hotel into Portman Square, a broadcast journalist shoved a microphone under his nose and asked him for his thoughts on his resignation.
“I’ve handed the asylum back to the lunatics,” he replied, in a line which became the Sunday Times Quote of the Year.
I’M currently on holiday in Greece where the weather has so far been decidedly worse than back home.
But before I start the old ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh’ routine (if you have no idea what I mean, look up the old Allan Sherman song on YouTube, it was a favourite on the Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart radio show back in the day) the sun has come out this morning and despite a few clouds the forecast is predicting plenty of sun to come in Paxos.
Yesterday we took the rather adventurous step of hiring a quad bike to explore this beautiful Ionian island.
As the chap from the hire shop showed me how everything worked on the bike I nervously fiddled with the brakes, indicators and gears.
He sighed, patted my arm with his hand and said: “Relax, it is very easy to drive this”, while probably having second thoughts that he was entrusting a brand new quad bike worth thousands of euros to a grinning lunatic.
It brought back memories of one of my first holidays to Greece when I joined two friends to go island hopping in the Cyclades.
When we arrived in Santorini for some R&R following some lively nights on the party island of Ios we decided to hire scooters to go and see some of the stunning sights on Santorini.
My friends, two strapping six foot-plus brothers, leapt astride a pair of powerful scooters looking supremely confident while I struggled to get my leg over my scooter.
Having successfully got aboard, I then failed to start it with the foot pedal.
The moustachioed Greek bloke at the bike hire shop waved his arms in exasperation before slapping my leg, wagging his finger and shouting “No!” at me.
I stood there in the Cycladian sunshine, looking dejected while he walked back into his workshop.
He re-emerged wheeling a little moped which he was prepared to rent to me.
Crestfallen, I accepted the bike as my only option to tour Santorini.
When I look back on photos of us on our bikes on the top of a hill overlooking the sea I realise that my moped was so small that I would have been rejected by The Imps children’s motorcycle display team.
My two friends spend our time on Santorini with two pulchritudinous Danish nurses as their pillion passengers.
While I would have struggled to get a small marmoset on the back of my bike.
I’ll be back with the blog in two weeks.
Have a great weekend.