David Parkin meets a Parliamentary heavyweight and a stockbroking star

David Parkin meets a Parliamentary heavyweight and a stockbroking star

PERHAPS it was the glorious bright Spring morning. Perhaps it was the lure of a speaker who has been lauded as one of our great Parliamentary orators. A capacity audience of 100 invited guests from the Yorkshire business community packed the offices of law firm Irwin Mitchell last Friday right in the heart of the Leeds Central constituency to hear from its MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary, Hilary Benn. They certainly weren’t there because of the attraction of the compere. I got a very generous introduction from Irwin Mitchell’s John Flathers, a regular reader of this blog, who even commended it to the audience. As I explained to the gathered throng, in recent weeks I have tackled such heavyweight and intellectual subjects as a night at the darts, the sitcom Rising Damp and a cultural destination in Leeds called the Purple Door. So when it came to choosing someone to chair the Q&A session with Hilary Benn, there was really only one person to do it. But as I told the audience, they were busy so they got me. There was no shortage of subjects to tackle and an hour and a half flew by. I got the audience involved in the discussion early, something Hilary relished. I told them that we could provide the equivalent of some light sparring for him as he limbered up for a clash with UKIP leader Nigel Farage on BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions that evening. Last year, Irwin Mitchell launched its UK Powerhouse report, an extensive business study produced in partnership with economic think tank, the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr),...
David Parkin on entrepreneurial growth, a Town Centre trip and winning the war on terrier

David Parkin on entrepreneurial growth, a Town Centre trip and winning the war on terrier

THERE is always a real buzz and no shortage of energy when you get entrepreneurs together. That was certainly the case this week when I compered an event for KPMG, Irwin Mitchell, Business Growth Fund (BGF) and the London Stock Exchange. Focusing on the funding opportunities available for companies to accelerate their growth, it brought together a small but high quality group of business leaders to hear the thoughts of three people who have done just that, but in different ways. There was no shortage of positivity at the event, but it certainly helped that the still strong sunlight of a glorious spring evening was streaming through the glass into the top floor suite at KPMG’s new Leeds building – fresh from being officially opened by the Duke of York this week. As I introduced our trio of panellists, I pointed out that Judith Pilkington, chairman of Leeds-based Moda In Pelle, the women’s fashion shoe retailer, had a CV that reads like a who’s who of high-end retail. Fenwicks, Selfridges, Harrods, Mappin & Webb, Watches of Switzerland, Asprey and Space NK. Not a bad resume. She was joined by Jonathan Straight, a man with not only one of the most impressive waxed moustaches in the business, but who also founded and built waste and recycling container group Straight plc into an AIM-listed group before it was acquired. He told me he’s now into street photography (search straight photos on instagram) and has presented a few programmes on local TV channel Made in Leeds (about the only watchable stuff on it). The final member of the panel was Gerard Toplass,...
David Parkin on a YABL night out and a drug dealer with a difference

David Parkin on a YABL night out and a drug dealer with a difference

The Yorkshire Asset Based Lending Dinner attracted 500 people to New Dock Hall in Leeds last night for an event that has already become something of an institution in the Yorkshire business community in just five years. I pointed out to the audience that I hadn’t seen a gathering of that much talent from the asset based lending and financial sector since Happy Hour at The Purple Door. I compered the event and pointed out to the lively audience that I achieved a new career high last night – warm up man for Chris Silverwood. The Ethos Corporate Finance founder is the man behind YABL, has it has become known, and the event delivered more than £10,000 to a charity connected to Macmillan Cancer Care, the fantastically named Wig Wham Thank You Mam. The brainchild of Alan Williams from Harrogate, 15 years ago his wife Jean was diagnosed with breast cancer, her successful fight with the disease inspired him to raise £25,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support by running the London Marathon in 2015. This year Alan and Jean decided to continue fundraising by creating the Wig Wham project. When people are diagnosed with cancer those patients who are prescribed chemotherapy treatment invariably lose their hair and many patients will choose to wear a wig. All patients have to pay for their wigs, and for some that cost is just too much. That is where Wig Wham Thank You Mam comes in. The charity will not only provide the funds to purchase that patient’s wig, they will also put them in touch with their partner hairdresser Peter Gotthard who will...
David Parkin on the Boss in Madrid, banking on football failure and getting naked in Hull

David Parkin on the Boss in Madrid, banking on football failure and getting naked in Hull

MADRID is one of my favourite European cities for a short break. It’s got everything you would expect a major capital city to have – but without being the size of London and other sprawling metropolises. You can easily traverse the Spanish capital on foot in a day, but I’d suggest plenty of stops for tapas washed down with the speciality drink of the house, whether that be sherry, vermouth, vino or a chilled Mahou beer. And it is at night that the city really comes alive, with people of all ages plus many families sitting in busy squares until the early hours of the morning with not a hint of bad behaviour or drunkenness. I was there last weekend hosted by the Madrid Convention Bureau and NH Hotels to look at the city as a potential destination for meetings and incentive groups. I’d been to Madrid a couple of times before and thought I had a pretty good idea of what it had to offer, but this trip opened my eyes to a host of new ideas, from a Turkish bath at a traditional hamman to a tour of the impressive Casino de Madrid, which isn’t a gambling den but a club for the movers and shakers of the city. Think the Leeds Club on steroids. We also had a whistle stop tour of Real Madrid’s Bernabau Stadium. There were visitors from all over the world touring this football mecca, including a Mexican man who informed me he had been there for eight hours and looked like he was keen to take a selfie in every one of...
David Parkin on a mountaineer on a mission, popular politicians and suffering Rising Damp

David Parkin on a mountaineer on a mission, popular politicians and suffering Rising Damp

WHAT do you get if you put a runner, a rugby player, a mountaineer and a broadcaster together? Not your usual night out is probably the answer. After announcing running legend Steve Cram and rugby league star Jamie Jones-Buchanan, we completed the line up for the Lord’s Taverners Balloon Debate this week with the addition of Alan Hinkes and Martin Kelner. You don’t have to have heard of Yorkshireman Hinkes to marvel at his achievements. Hinkes is the first British mountaineer to have climbed the world’s 14 tallest mountains which are all over 8,000 metres high. Only 12 people have ever achieved that feat. To put it in perspective, that’s the same number of people who have walked on the moon. Despite his incredible mountaineering achievements, Alan may be better known as Chapati Man. In 1997 he had to be airlifted off Nanga Parbat in Pakistan after the flour on a chapati he was eating made him sneeze and slip a disc. If you can deal with the embarrassment caused by an episode like that then I’m sure 8,000 metre mountains hold no fears. I’ve long been a fan of the work of Martin Kelner. He’s a journalist with the rare skill to broadcast as well as he writes. Writing a weekly column on TV sport for The Guardian and appearing on BBC shows like Five Live’s Fighting Talk, Martin showcased his talents as a quick witted, funny commentator with an eye for the eccentricities of life. So we’ve put together four people who’ve achieved much in their working lives. Now they have to compete to triumph in the...