David Parkin is officially back out there

THE first proper “live” event I did after the lockdown during the pandemic was for accountancy firm Murray Harcourt.

Booking speakers and standing in front of an audience to introduce them felt like a breath of fresh air after so many months in confinement.

This week I was working with the entrepreneurial firm again as it celebrated its 10th birthday.

Founders and partners Richard Bright and Mark Hunter wanted to mark the occasion by bringing their team together and rather than several speakers, the brief was to find just one.

But one that everybody, from teenage trainees to experienced partners, would recognise and be impressed by.

That’s easier said than done.

In this multi-media world it’s not like we all still sit down in our living rooms to watch the same programmes on television each evening.

Having had three sports people speak at their last event, Richard Bright was keen that we found a speaker from a different background.

After a lot of searching, I eventually suggested Ben Fogle.How do you describe Ben Fogle?



He has climbed Mount Everest, rowed across the Atlantic, raced across Antarctica to the South Pole and crossed the deserts of the Middle East.



As well as presenting a host of shows across several TV channels, he has made documentaries on Prince William in Africa, disease in Ethiopia, Captain Scott in Antarctica and crocodiles in Botswana.



He has written nine best-selling books.

Charity campaigner and activist?


He is ambassador to WWF, Tusk and Hearing Dogs for the Deaf and Patron of The Red Cross and the United Nations.

During a powerful, emotional, inspiring and funny speech, he said he prefers to call himself a “storyteller”.

He has presented a documentary about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and told the audience that he is flying out to Cyprus next week, not to sit on a beach, but to head to the north of the island to film a programme about the island which is divided into the control of Greece and Turkey.

He reminded us that he was one of the first ever reality TV stars.

He appeared on the BBC show Castaway 2000 22 years ago.

He was among 36 people sent to live on a remote island in the Outer Hebrides for a year.

For younger readers who have never watched it, think Love Island in fleeces.

And when explaining what has driven him – a self-confessed shy child who was no natural athlete and last to be picked for sports teams at school – to tackle so many gruelling adventurous challenges – it was to make sure that he wasn’t remembered or defined for being a Z list celeb spawned by reality TV.

“I love that quote: ‘Climb the mountain so you can see the world, not so the world can see you’“, he told the Murray Harcourt team.

In a world where young people want to “be famous” when they grow up, there are now countless celebs created by a host of reality TV shows.

“They say that in London now, you are more likely to be closer to a celebrity than a rat,” Ben said.

I hope any rodents aren’t offended by that.

Ben spent time meeting the Murray Harcourt team before the event at Brasserie Blanc in Leeds and joined them for lunch before heading off to Leeds Bradford Airport to catch a flight back to London – the national rail strike having zapped the usual means of travelling between the capital and Yorkshire.

He was clearly a popular guest speaker, but as I explained to the audience, the real highlight was a Q&A I was doing with founders Richard Bright and Mark Hunter looking back at the 10 years since they left a major firm and started their own boutique practice.

Their first ever hire, a graduate trainee fresh from university, Lauren Spilsbury, is still part of the team and along the way they have recruited talented partners including Glyn Thomas, Steve Williams, Neil Sengupta, Neil Potter and Richard Munoz.

Murray Harcourt has also combined with other firms, including fellow Yorkshire accountancy practice WGN and it was nice to see Colin Glass, who helped me set up TheBusinessDesk.com.

The question and answer session was short and sweet – Richard and Mark are honest, straight-talking and self-effacing – which I would imagine if you are an entrepreneur that is exactly what you want in a business adviser.

They reflected briefly on the last 10 years but are clearly very much focused on the future.

When I had asked Richard what he wanted from the event, he said simply that he wanted everyone to relax, have a good time and enjoy themselves.

The feedback from the Murray Harcourt team very much suggested they did.

I certainly had a great time and I was working


DAVID Forbes is someone I’ve known since my early days as business editor at the Yorkshire Post back in 2000.

He was the experienced and long-serving head of N M Rothschild’s Leeds office and a consummate dealmaker behind some of the biggest transactions in the region over many years.

When he left Rothschilds he became a valued non-executive director of stock market quoted businesses such as online fashion retailer Boohoo, car dealerships group Vertu Motors and engineering infrastructure company Renew Holdings.

Well over two years ago David sent me an invite to a joint 60th birthday party he and his partner Kath were throwing at their home in North Yorkshire.

Not surprisingly, it has been delayed twice because of the pandemic, and was finally held last week.

On a summer evening the garden of David and Kath’s lovely home was in full bloom and a huge marquee on their lawn contained lots of fine food and wine and, more importantly, lots of people.

There was a performance by David and Kath’s favourite band, Rolling Stones tribute act The Counterfeit Stones.

I recognised so many familiar faces from the Yorkshire deal-making and corporate community.

John Richardson, formerly of NatWest Markets, Eversheds and Coutts is always great company

I also bumped into Nigel and Sarah Pullan, David and Elaine Buckley, Martin and Elizabeth Jenkins and financial PR people I haven’t seen for ages like Sarah Hollins, Catriona Valentine and Keeley Clarke.

Martin Jenkins showed me a photo on his phone of an old front page from Yorkshire Business Insider magazine of him and David Forbes when they were named Yorkshire Dealmaker and Young Dealmaker of the Year.

In their pinstripe suits, they were leaning on cues beside a pool table in an image reminiscent of that film starring Paul Newman and Tom Cruise, The Color of Money.

Peter Smart, the former chairman at law firm Walker Morris came over for a chat and I asked about his daughter Tammy, who once did work experience with us on the business desk of the Yorkshire Post.

He told me she’s now married and a very successful lawyer in Grand Cayman with houses in London, North Yorkshire and the Cayman Islands and plans to move to Florida in the near future.

I told Peter he has me to thank for his daughter’s success.

He looked at me quizzically.

I said that if I hadn’t put her off journalism 15 years ago she’d have never become so successful.


MATT Fitzpatrick’s triumph at the US Open golf tournament on Sunday appeared the perfect riposte to all the recent coverage of defections of big name golfers to the new Saudi-backed LIV series.

Here you had a 27-year-old from Sheffield who had dedicated his life to the sport but was still able to put his achievement into perspective.

He has and will make a lot of money on the PGA Tour but not as much as the big cheque he would get to go over to LIV.

But you could see that he wouldn’t swap any amount of money for that incredible feeling he got from winning his first major.

And it was lovely to see his family who have supported him, there to celebrate too.

It was also an emotional moment for his fellow Yorkshireman, caddy Billy Foster.

Despite being “on the bag” for golfing greats like Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke, he had never caddied during a Major win.

There must have been plenty of celebrations at his home club, Bingley St Ives.

Foster is a great speaker with a host of wonderful stories about Seve, Monty and many other golfers he knows on the international circuit.

Fitzpatrick is a level-headed young man who I was first told about 15 years ago when he was a schoolboy golfer at his local club in Sheffield, Hallamshire Golf Club.

Mark Bower, then the finance director of timber group Arnold Laver, was a fellow guest of Yorkshire Bank on a trip to watch a golf tournament at the K Club near Dublin – back when banks invested in corporate hospitality and had managers with the personality to host them.

During the trip Mark told me about a young lad at his local golf club who he said was destined to become a top amateur and professional and would likely win a major.

Given Matt was about 12 at the time, that wasn’t a bad prediction by Mark!

After the US Open Sky Sports interviewed members and staff at Hallamshire Golf Club about their reaction to Matt Fitspatrick’s success and it was good to see Yorkshire lawyer Andrew Darke, who is the club’s current captain.

I was first introduced to Andrew several years ago at a cricket match in Cape Town by lawyer Richard Larking, former lawyer David Knaggs and wealth management professional Paul MacIntosh.

I remember I was drinking a beer and feasting on calamari and chips from a food stand in Newlands Cricket Ground called Mr Calamari.

Funny what you remember.


WHEN it comes to invitations to decent events, I’m quite happy to fill in as a last minute replacement.

So when creative titan Jonathan Sands dropped me a text this week asking if I’d like to join his table on the first day of the Headingley Test Match I happily replied yes.

With the sun shining and the ground filled to capacity, Yorkshire cricket enjoyed some positive headlines for a change.

Jonathan was head of Elmwood, the award winning brand design agency.

He’s now running Born Ugly, the creative firm which the team at Elmwood’s Leeds studio launched after the company, which had offices in New York, Melbourne and Singapore, was sold last year.

Jonathan, who is also a fellow Derby County fan, told me the name of the new business was inspired by the fact that every idea is “born ugly” but takes work to come to fruition.

After lunch I spotted Simon Chappell and some of his colleagues from Assured Data Protection.

There were two reasons I went to join them.

Firstly Simon is great company.

And secondly he likes decent wine.

Over a bottle or two of a fine Provence rose I learned that his colleagues Rob Mackle, Stewart Parkin and Adam Hurst had flown in from the USA yesterday morning where they had been to secure a major new contract.

Which was another reason to raise a glass.

For all the great batting and bowling on the pitches, as always at Headingley, it was the action in the stands that caught my eye.

From three blokes dressed as butchers chasing another in a pig costume in front of the Western Terrace to the stag do in clown outfits, there was plenty happening.

One great Headingley tradition it was good to see again was the creation of the famous “beer snake”.

For those of you who haven’t heard or seen this extraordinary, almost mythical creature, it is made by putting all the plastic beer glasses together.

Deposits on beer mugs and over-zealous stewarding have almost driven the beer snakes to extinction.

But yesterday one rose like a phoenix from the flames.

A magnificent sight, a quite breathtaking creation.

For the few minutes before stewards confiscated it while getting roundly booed by the crowd.

Top class sport, you just can’t beat it.

Have a great weekend.

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