WHEN we devised (it sounds so much more strategic than ‘came up with’) the Big Ticket event it was in response to plaintive wails from corporate financiers.
Unlike some sectors of the business and finance world, dealmakers are a sociable and lively crowd who tend towards camaraderie rather than backbiting.
They moaned that the awards events they attended were dull affairs – black tie, boring speeches, bland three course meals and far too many egos claiming awards with very little justification.
So the challenge was set.
Could we come up with an alternative?
Could we also, very importantly, make sure it gave something back to the community in which this influential crowd operate?
Last Thursday saw the launch of the Big Ticket, aimed at bringing together corporate finance and business talent and serving up street food, live music, relaxed conversation and plenty of personality at a great venue, the Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds.
Whether wearing a suit or jeans, dealmakers came together for a great night out and to raise lots of money for a fantastic charity in Yorkshire.
Belfast band Disco Beard got the audience going with their energetic approach and a unique ability to segway from Beatles classics to modern pop.
Yorkshire’s corporate finance community is renowned for its talent and personality.
From management buyouts to multi-billion pound global deals, the region’s advisers and funders add huge value and make the difference for their clients.
The sponsors who supported the event summed that up.
Endless is a great Yorkshire success story – a private equity investor which started in Leeds and now operates nationally and internationally and is currently investing through its fourth fund which totals more than half a billion pounds.
Walker Morris is that rare thing – a law firm with just one office based in Leeds but with clients and deals across the UK and the world.
Sentio is a specialist corporate finance and transaction support adviser with a team packed with talent and personality who have worked on a host of deals including the management buyout of Seabrooks Crisps. (I know that because they gave me a packet of crinkle cut cheese and onion to celebrate).
And finally Deloitte, an international firm but which is very much at the heart of the Yorkshire business community with senior partner Martin Jenkins having just become chairman of the board raising money to deliver Maggie’s Yorkshire.
That will be a unique cancer care centre in the grounds of St James’ Hospital in Leeds designed to be a welcoming refuge and a home from home for cancer patients and their families.
A private fundraising campaign has already raised £3.3m towards the £4.3m construction element of the project.
The Big Ticket raised over £9,100 towards the final £1m which will make Maggie’s Yorkshire a reality.
At the event last week we heard from Harriet Dow, a 39-year-old mum with a six-year-old daughter.
Harriet has been diagnosed with incurable cancer and she talked about how a facility like Maggie’s will provide help and support for people suffering with cancer in Yorkshire.
When she came off stage I decided tea and sympathy was the wrong approach so opted to make sure Harriet was well supplied with gin and tonics during the evening.
One other lasting memory of the evening was what looked like a dance-off between the corporate finance teams from Deloitte and Squire Patton Boggs.
I’ll make no comment on their dancing skills, but given most of them were fresh from advising on the £750m sale by HgCapital of Yorkshire-based vehicle leasing business Zenith to private equity firm Bridgepoint, I certainly had to admire their stamina.
LAST week’s memories of supermarket supremo Sir Ken Morrison, who died aged 85, brought plenty of comment and stories from readers.
I post this blog on Linkedin as well as emailing it out and there were a record number of people who read it including more than 60 who work at Morrisons.
Whether you worked closely with him, still work there, once had a Saturday job as a teenager at Wm Morrison or just shopped there, it is clear that Sir Ken touched people in a way that other retailers didn’t.
I wanted my piece to reflect that.
One of the readers was a BBC producer who rang me this week to ask if I would be interviewed about the Yorkshire entrepreneur grocer on Radio Four’s weekly obituary programme, The Last Word.
So it was back to the studio in a broom cupboard at BBC Leeds on Wednesday to record my contribution in an interview with presenter Matthew Bannister, who once masterminded the rise of BBC Radio 1 as controller, and who also had to wrestle with the ego that was then breakfast show presenter Chris Evans before being promoted to director of radio at the corporation.
I hope I did Sir Ken justice.
The Last Word is on Radio Four at 4pm today, repeated on Sunday evening at 8.30pm and is also available as a podcast and on catch up on the BBC website.
TV drama The Moorside recounted the events surrounding the disappearance of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews from a notorious estate in Dewsbury in 2008.
After a huge police hunt for the missing schoolgirl, she was discovered drugged and hidden in the base of a divan bed in a flat less than a mile from her home.
Her mother Karen and an accomplice were arrested and later convicted of falsely staging the kidnapping in a bid to claim a reward for finding the missing girl.
The 24-day search for Shannon dominated the news and the rundown housing estate in West Yorkshire became a focus for the national media.
Some of the people living on this estate were what journalists would describe using the technical term ‘scrotes’.
The lawlessness of the estate was underlined when the Yorkshire Post’s crime correspondent pulled her car over to go and speak to police conducting a house to house search.
She perhaps shouldn’t have left her key in the ignition and her handbag and mobile phone on the passenger seat.
Before she had walked up the path to speak to the police, a local youth had hopped into her car and driven it off.
She later confided in me that the embarrassment of the incident had been soothed by her achieving a career ambition – to be mentioned in Private Eye.
Unfortunately it was in the satirical paper’s Street of Shame column which tends to highlight the daft goings on in the written Press.
The two-part BBC drama starring acclaimed actress Sheridan Smith has been praised for its combination of realism and humanity in depicting the events surrounding Shannon’s disappearance.
However news photographers and journalists who covered the story at the time have vivid memories that weren’t featured.
Their recollections suggest the Moorside wasn’t so much a sink estate as one which had been flushed down the plughole.
One photographer I heard from this week remembered that the most unbelievable part of The Moorside was when a character put rubbish into a bin liner and then into a dustbin.
He said that people used to just throw their rubbish out of their windows.
Another recalled never seeing so many people wearing electronic tags and enjoying a can of Stella for breakfast.
And with the black humour that typifies those in the Press, one reporter said the highlight for him was watching two young mothers leaving their houses in the late afternoon still wearing their nighties and dressing gowns to “do the Stella run using their children’s pushchairs to carry the cans back”.
I know Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to help people in Britain who are struggling both economically and socially.
But it is estates like the Moorside where society still faces some of its biggest challenges.
IN a tribute to Sir Ken Morrison last week I included a story about the great man from food entrepreneur and Yorkshire International Business Convention founder Mike Firth.
An email arrived from Mike this week.
It simply said: “Thanks for the mention – can’t beat copy and paste!”
You are right Mike.
I built a career on it.
Have a great weekend.