David Parkin on how to win friends and influence people and the details of a retailer

David Parkin on how to win friends and influence people and the details of a retailer

HOW to make friends and influence people? Have you ever wondered how you do that? Well don’t do what I do, for a start. This time last year I attended the CBI Yorkshire and Humber annual dinner in the refectory of the University of Leeds. I must have found it pretty uninspiring as I described it as “drier than an ageing Ryvita”. Which prompted Beckie Hart, the regional director of the CBI in Yorkshire, to march over to me at a parliamentary reception in the Churchill Room of the House of Commons a few weeks later to present me with a packet of Ryvita. Fair play to her. Rather than simmering in silence she confronted me and did it with a sense of humour. When I bumped into Beckie at the Proms on the Pitch event at Headingley Stadium last month she introduced me to her husband. “Are you the Ryvita man?” he asked. It was back to the University of Leeds refectory for this year’s CBI annual dinner last night and I was hoping it wouldn’t be deja vu (forgive the lack of accents on the e and the a, I can’t find how to do it on my keyboard) all over again. Fortunately it wasn’t a bad do, perhaps helped by me being on the lively Barclays table hosted by Caroline Pullich, Lee Collinson and Karen Swainston in a rather fetching pair of zebra print heels (Karen, not Lee). The compere of the evening was the chairman of the CBI in Yorkshire and the Humber Richard Flint. He made his name building up SkyBet into a major...
David Parkin on passion, pride and poignancy on a landmark day

David Parkin on passion, pride and poignancy on a landmark day

IMAGINE you’ve spent years watching and waiting for your dream home to be built. There have been plenty of challenges along the way. You’ve had to keep the budget under control while not sacrificing the ultimate aim of what you want to achieve. But when the building is finished you see it from the outside before going inside. And it is better than you ever imagined. Better than even the architect’s images portrayed it and which your layman’s imagination could never quite grasp. That’s how it felt when I went to the launch of Maggie’s Yorkshire this week. It has taken several years to raise the funds, design and then construct this incredible building. And it won’t be a dream home for just one family, but a place where every family in Yorkshire that are affected by cancer will be welcome. It is the 26th centre opened by Maggie’s but the first one that the charity has in Yorkshire. Maggie’s Yorkshire has been built in the grounds of St James’s University Hospital in Leeds to complement its excellent clinical care and to offer the practical, emotional and social support people with cancer and their families and friends need. When you see what has been created on what was a small sloping triangle of grass where the rubbish used to be stored next to the hospital’s multi-storey car park then I think you’d probably agree it is a triumph of hope over expectation. Renowned architect Thomas Heatherwick, whose London studio has been responsible for designing the 2012 Olympic cauldron and the new bus for London, was given the challenge to...
David Parkin on the issues dogging WAGs

David Parkin on the issues dogging WAGs

FORGET Brexit. There is no doubting the big story of the week. Coleen Rooney’s spat with fellow footballer’s wife Rebekah Vardy. If you’re not familiar with the details of this story then allow me to elucidate the matter. The wife of Wayne Rooney took to Twitter to claim that the spouse of Leicester striker Jamie Vardy has been leaking stories from her Instagram account to The Sun newspaper. Bear with me. It took five months of painstaking detective work by Coleen to track down the miscreant, which must have seriously eaten into the time available for her to go on holiday. Rebekah Vardy has denied the claims and instructed lawyers over the matter. The Sun brilliantly headlined this argy bargy between footballers wives as WAGGRO! Apparently Coleen successfully tracked down the culprit by blocking all except one person from viewing stories on her Instagram account. She then posted fictitious stories on the social media site such as her going on Strictly Come Dancing, opting for gender selection in Mexico for her next child and the big one – her basement flooding. All of these apparently appeared in The Sun newspaper – and the only person who could view them was Rebekah Vardy, meaning she was the culprit, according to Coleen. But she says it wasn’t her. The hullabaloo saw normally serious news outlets embracing the story with gusto – Radio 4’s Today programme interviewed a footballer’s wife who appears on The Real Housewives of Cheshire – which is probably more to do with Brexit fatigue than the importance of this particular issue. Things got serious when that intellectual titan...
David Parkin on Harrogate welcoming the world and a powerhouse performance

David Parkin on Harrogate welcoming the world and a powerhouse performance

THE slogan adopted by the town where cycling’s UCI Road World Championships took place last week was: “Harrogate Welcomes The World”. Although for those of us who know Harrogate and those who live there, that motto could have been caveated with the words: “But make sure you are polite, form orderly queues and don’t drop litter on the Stray.” The spa town did actually lay on a great welcome for the biggest sporting event in the UK this year, even if the weather hadn’t quite bought into the deal that Yorkshire should be at its best. The week-long event enjoyed two gloriously sunny days and several days of torrential rain. The worst of the weather was reserved for the event’s climax, the men’s elite road race on Sunday. It tipped it down all day meaning the start in Leeds was slightly delayed while parts of the route had to be altered because of flooding, including missing out on Buttertubs, iconic from its role in the Tour de France Grand Depart. But that didn’t stop thousands of people lining the route and heading for the climax in Harrogate where the drenched riders did nine laps around the town centre as enthusiastic crowds under brollies and waterproofs cheered with vigour. When I mentioned to a local resident that I had never seen so many cagoules in Harrogate I received a clipped answer: “They must have been tourists.” Apparently the required uniform is a Schöffel gilet. It is a German clothing brand beloved of the country sporting set but worn by a much wider constituency, including many whose only experience of shooting...
David Parkin tells a mucky story and waves the flag for a real hero

David Parkin tells a mucky story and waves the flag for a real hero

WHERE there’s muck there’s brass. That’s a saying that originated in Yorkshire. But I’m sure Hugh Hefner and Paul Raymond would agree. I was reminded of it when I went to watch Leeds United play Derby County last weekend. No, I’m not going to make some cheap joke about the quality of the football. I was a guest of Jason Taylor of the recently rebranded Core Facility Services. And we both were hosted by Leeds-based skip hire business BWS. That stands for Big Waste Services. It does what it says on the skip. Given the large hospitality box in one corner of Elland Road and the name of the business regularly flashing up on the pitchside electronic advertising hoardings, the company is doing well. A true family business, we were hosted by Jack and Charlie, sons of founder Roger Woodhead, a farmer who sold his pigs 30 years ago and bought a truck and a skip. He now has a fleet of trucks and hundreds of skips. As well as supporting Leeds United, the family has also backed the city’s world featherweight boxing champion Josh Warrington and the wall of the hospitality box had signed shirts and other memorabilia adorning it. I was intrigued to see a cartoon of the sitcom stars Steptoe and Son on the side of the BWS lorries and inquired why this was. Roger’s sons weren’t quite sure, but were agreed that he “used to like watching it on telly”. After a little more forensic probing from me, it emerged that Roger’s nickname was Harold – one of the Steptoe characters – and his grandfather...
David Parkin on Yorkshire welcoming the World and a dog from Donny

David Parkin on Yorkshire welcoming the World and a dog from Donny

IT is pretty easy to recall the warm glow and camaraderie that appeared to envelope most of Yorkshire when it hosted the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2014. But I’ve been trying to remember what the mood was in the run-up to those extraordinary three days in July when the sun shined and it seemed most of Yorkshire lined the hundreds of miles of the route which snaked around every corner of the region. Were we all a bit cynical about whether it could be a success? Did we even care that it was happening? I think we probably did because the estimated crowds of 4.8 million that turned out over that sunny long weekend were not mobilised at the last minute. Welcome to Yorkshire were key to that, with the tourism organisation behind months of not just positive PR but roadshows which took the story of the world’s biggest annual sporting event to every city, town, village and hamlet in the host region. I could be wrong but I’m not getting the sense that the UCI Cycling World Championships have galvanised the Yorkshire public in the same way. In the run-up to the Grand Depart five years ago (doesn’t time fly) many people were planning where they were going to watch the race from and yellow painted bicycles, bunting and even houses painted with spots sprung up along the route. The UCI Cycling World Championships, or ‘Worlds’ as modern parlance will have us call them, is the biggest sporting event in the UK this year. And while some of the races will take in large...
David Parkin on Boycott’s knighthood, a fantastic night for Maggie’s and the law of office parties

David Parkin on Boycott’s knighthood, a fantastic night for Maggie’s and the law of office parties

ARISE Sir Geoffrey Boycott. Four words one man thought he deserved to have heard years ago. And the rest of us hoped we never would. Theresa May’s premiership was shorter and achieved significantly less than most of her predecessors. But what she had in common with many, if not all former Prime Ministers of recent years, was a resignation honours list that rewarded the political lackeys, flunkeys and lickspittles that surrounded her during her time in Downing Street. Most of her advisers can now waltz off to highly paid consultancy roles in the City with a gong pinned to their lapel. If they don’t have our heartfelt thanks ringing in their ears just yet then it is only because the rest of us are trying to figure out what has been achieved over the last three years. Among the names on May’s resignation honours list this week, three stood out. Sir Kim Darroch, the former British Ambassador to the United States, who was given a peerage after falling on his sword and resigning when President Donald Trump took issue with Our Man in Washington doing his job and telling the truth. And two former England cricket captains received knighthoods – Andrew Strauss and Geoffrey Boycott. Putting aside his host of achievements both on and off the pitch in cricket, Strauss is a polite, honourable, self-effacing man who gave up his role as director of English cricket last year to support his wife Ruth, who was being treated for terminal cancer, and went on to launch a foundation in her name after her death in December 2018. His peers queued...
David Parkin takes the highway to Hull and watches The Athletic flex its muscles

David Parkin takes the highway to Hull and watches The Athletic flex its muscles

I WENT on a cultural tour of Hull last Friday. I know what you’re thinking. That must have been a nice 15 minutes, but what did you do for the rest of the day? Don’t worry I’ve heard it all before.  To be honest, I’ve probably said it all before. But after three years of visiting Hull on such trips I’m now not so much a missionary as a preacher about the attractions of this Far East city. Organised by Hull entrepreneur Shaun Watts, the annual Cultural Tour was first kicked off to Hull being City of Culture in 2017. It involves several business people inviting a guest from outside the area to join them for a day to get a taste of what Hull can offer. Having visited Beverley Minster, Hull Minster, Trinity House and quite a few of the historic pubs in between over the last three years, this year’s visit took in a tour of Hull Guildhall. The historic building records much of the city’s proud maritime and trading history and includes the Coroner’s Court. This was once a criminal court and has a tunnel leading from the dock under the building to cells next door. The ageing business cards of hopeful solicitors are still stuck to the wall of the reception area where prisoners were brought in. Guided by experienced local historian Mike Rymer, we toured the Guildhall looking at the collections of silver – including something I’ve put on my Christmas list, a pair of ’grape scissors’ – a life size statue of anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce and the council chamber. The member of...
David Parkin on Britain’s answer to Mad Men and crazy characters in football

David Parkin on Britain’s answer to Mad Men and crazy characters in football

FAREWELL then Lord Bell. With his slicked-back hair, Savile Row suits, and heavy drinking and smoking, Tim Bell, who made his name at advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, before going on to found the public relations firm Bell Pottinger, could have been the leading man in a British version of Mad Men. He was credited with coming up with the slogan: “Labour isn’t working” when he advised Margaret Thatcher ahead of her winning the 1979 General Election. He went on to work with her throughout the rest of her career and was a political spin doctor before the phrase was even coined. Some describe Britain’s first female Prime Minister as a controversial character. That was nothing compared to some of the clients that Tim Bell happily represented. Among his clients were the Pinochet regime, Asma al-Assad, wife of the Syrian dictator, the Sultan of Brunei and the Sri Lankan government during its war with the Tamils. In the UK his firm represented the Tory minister David Mellor during his extramarital affair, the businessman Ernest Saunders, convicted of manipulating Guinness shares during a takeover battle, Mohamed Al Fayed, the owner of Harrods, Rebekah Wade, the Murdoch executive during the phone hacking scandal, and Neil Hamilton in his battle with the Guardian over the cash for questions scandal. Bell took a verbal baseball bat to critics of his work. When I did some media training for a law firm with my friend Nathan Lane he included an interview Lord Bell did with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight in which he leaves on of broadcasting’s toughest inquisitors literally exasperated with nowhere left to...
David Parkin on connections, controversy and cauliflower

David Parkin on connections, controversy and cauliflower

THEY call it six degrees of separation, but sometimes it is a lot closer than that. In my last blog a couple of weeks ago I mentioned a trip to Grantley Hall, Yorkshire’s newest luxury hotel, and another trip to Huddersfield Town as a guest of Jason Taylor of Core Facility Services. It turns out that Core worked on Grantley Hall. And in the piece on Huddersfield Town I also mentioned their innovative but edgy shirt sponsorship deal with betting firm Paddy Power. The fact that the Football Association has since charged the club with misconduct says more about the unimaginative bunch of stuffed shirts that populate the governing body of English Football than it does about a stunt that caught the imagination of football fans across the world and raised almost £30,000 for charity. After the last blog appeared I received an email from Richard Jackson, who I have mentioned here before and who is the former High Sheriff of West Yorkshire. He said: “An interesting blog this week. Have you worked out who is the chief executive of ‘Flutter’, Betfair and Paddy Power? One Peter Jackson son of his proud father Richard, did you see the Sunday Times full pager on him last week-end?” I fished out the Sunday Times business section from the previous weekend and read the profile of Yorkshire-born Peter Jackson, the 43-year-old boss of Flutter Entertainment which used to be known as Paddy Power Betfair. With a background in financial services, Peter heads up a FTSE 100 group operating in 100 countries with 626 shops in the UK and Ireland and with sales...