David Parkin on strong transatlantic ties, the tooth of the matter and mankini selfies

David Parkin on strong transatlantic ties, the tooth of the matter and mankini selfies

DONALD Trump might be threatening to take a sledgehammer to many of the United States’ foreign trade agreements but that shouldn’t mask the huge opportunity that British firms have to do business with America. With Brexit looming, there is a renewed enthusiasm on both sides of the Atlantic to build new trading relationships. One such example is a trade mission which takes place in September when Stefan Pryor, Secretary of Commerce for the State of Rhode Island, will head up a group of US businesses and a team of commerce and tourism officials heading to the UK. Visiting the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ cities of Leeds, Hull and Manchester as well as Edinburgh, the mission will see Rhode Island firms meet with UK business leaders with the aim of growing exports between the state and the North of England and Scotland.   I’m joining the group and their hosts for a number of events and will be compering a breakfast panel discussion for ExportExchange, the peer-to-peer mentoring initiative aimed at supporting overseas trade in the Leeds City Region, on September 20 at the offices of UK-US law firm Womble Bond Dickinson. Secretary Pryor and his team will be talking to UK businesses about the latest incentives and support available for British companies planning to set up an operation in Rhode Island, which is increasingly being seen by UK businesses as a first landing place in the US. Rhode Island might be the smallest state in the US but its position sandwiched in between Boston and New York could have seen in overshadowed by its much larger and higher profile neighbours. Instead...
David Parkin on the hottest ticket to the greatest show and the stars out at York

David Parkin on the hottest ticket to the greatest show and the stars out at York

I’VE long held the view that the Firecracker Ball is the hottest ticket in the Yorkshire business and social calendar. So when Martha Phillips from the Firecracker Ball committee rang to ask if I would be interested in being media partner for this year’s event I didn’t hesitate to say yes. The annual event, which raises huge funds for Barnardo’s causes across Yorkshire, takes place in November at Rudding Park Hotel in Harrogate. The Firecracker is a spectacular event and this year’s is no different with a Brazilian carnival themed backdrop and pop singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor entertaining the audience of 800 at the black tie ball. Last year’s ball had an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland theme and the venue was so beautifully and ambitiously decorated and presented that guests felt they were descending through a rabbit hole to a vast underground kingdom, rather than a marquee. It raised a staggering £270,000 for Barnardo’s and the event has raised £2.5m for the charity since its launch in 2002. Previous themes have included the circus, the Roaring Twenties, the Wizard of Oz and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – complete with Oompa Loompas and a chocolate river which guests crossed by a bridge. Firecracker chairman, the property entrepreneur Phil Taylor and his committee have created a charity event which achieves two key things – raising an enormous amount for a great cause whilst also ensuring sponsors and guests enjoy a fantastic experience. That ensures that the event is always sold out and so if you are considering taking a table then now is the time to act. As someone who comperes...
David Parkin goes to Hull and back and needs new balls

David Parkin goes to Hull and back and needs new balls

TO Hull and Back. That was the name of the Only Fools and Horses Christmas special way back in 1985. I remember watching it on my new portable colour TV in my bedroom right after the Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day. It was the first feature-length episode of the sitcom and so wasn’t accompanied by laughter as it wasn’t filmed in front of a studio audience. Critics wondered whether the format would work but the quality of John Sullivan’s writing was never in question, as the hapless Trotter trio of Del, Rodney and Uncle Albert made their way across the North Sea from Hull to Amsterdam in an attempt to smuggle some diamonds for their pal Boycie – on another of their quests to be millionaires with predictably hilarious results. I’ve always laughed at the title of the episode whenever I’ve had to make a trip to Hull. They used to call it the Far East before Hull became the City of Culture in 2107. But I’ve always found it a welcoming city with loads of history and an entrepreneurial flair you rarely find elsewhere. Like the Trotters I took to the ocean wave yesterday as I boarded a smart motor yacht to join a clutch of Hull entrepreneurs that fortunately have a little more success than Del, Boycie, Mickey, Denzel and Trigger. Shaun Watts of Chameleon Business Interiors, Ken Sturdy of IT@Spectrum, Neil Fisher of Airco, Mark Pearson-Kendall of Andrew Jackson and Nic Marshall of ResQ are among a clutch of business people from Hull who organise an annual “cultural tour” of the city taking in much of...
David Parkin on unsung heroes of business and a Gazza own goal

David Parkin on unsung heroes of business and a Gazza own goal

UNSUNG heroes. It’s a strange phrase. I’ve always loved unearthing the unsung heroes of business. You know, the entrepreneurs who have created something special but also wanted to put something back. But by highlighting their achievements doesn’t that mean that they are no longer unsung? That might be the case but many still remain relatively unrecognised. The Yorkshire Post produced a supplement on Yorkshire Day last week listing the “great and good” of the county. Leafing through it I was left feeling pretty uninspired. All of them, every one, had letters either before or after their name. No hidden gems there then. More like a quick Google of Yorkshire recipients of honours. I could write you a list as long as your arm of people around the county, many in the business world, who deserve honours. And then I’d have a pretty substantial wager that none of them will ever get them. Because of the archaic approach that those civil servants who have done their time always get honours added to politicians lavishing honours on their lackeys it means that when it comes to business there are not many gongs left to go round. And it doesn’t help that the people who advise on honours lack insight and imagination. It all conspires to mean that the people who really do deserve public recognition often don’t get it. When I was at TheBusinessDesk.com we launched the Business Masters Awards to celebrate business success. It included the ventures who had survived the start-up phase to reach their third year in business. Having experienced it I often think it very similar to...
David Parkin on a Tour de France finale and too much monkey business

David Parkin on a Tour de France finale and too much monkey business

“ARE you taking your Ferraro Rocher?” I was asked when I told a friend I was off to watch the finish of the Tour de France  on the Champs-Elysées, preceded by a drinks reception on the lawn of the British Embassy in Paris. “No, we’re flying to Paris and anyway, I can’t afford a Ferrari,” I replied. It turns out we were both wrong. I thought my friend was referring to a sports car while he was actually meaning Ferrero Rocher, the gold-wrapped nutty chocolate made famous by the 1990s TV advert in which they were served by a butler at a glittering embassy reception. “Ambassador, you are really spoiling us,” was the cheesy line many still repeat from the memorable advert. Fortunately it was dinky canapés held together by tiny pegs and a nice range of Yorkshire cheese from Cryer and Stott in Allerton Bywater that was served on the terrace of the British Ambassador’s residence in the French capital last Sunday. Invited by Welcome to Yorkshire to the finale of the Tour de France, I rubbed shoulders with business leaders and politicians and had the chance to wander about the garden of the Embassy on the Rue de Faubourg Saint-Honore and the lawn where you can find the only grass tennis court in Paris. It was a wonderful experience which was then topped when we all made the short walk to a ninth floor terrace overlooking the Champs-Elysées where we were able to watch the processional finish to the three week Tour de France in which the riders make eight circuits of the French capital before the...