David Parkin on a leisurely discussion, luxury hotels and a rose of hope

David Parkin on a leisurely discussion, luxury hotels and a rose of hope

NO the picture above isn’t a shot from the set of a new Yorkshire version of Mamma Mia.

Although the bloke at front left does have a look of a young Pierce Brosnan.

It is from an event we organised this week for financial recruitment firm Woodrow Mercer Finance at Trinity Kitchen, the street food experience at the Trinity shopping centre in Leeds.

The Business of Leisure brought together a panel of four people working in completely different areas of this diverse and exciting sector.

Peter Banks, is managing director of Rudding Park Hotel in Harrogate and has been a pivotal figure transforming the family-owned hotel into one of the finest luxury resorts in Yorkshire, boasting a £9.5m roof-top spa.

When I asked Peter to take part in the panel event he told me he would be telling it like it is, deftly taking a verbal rapier to  the many challenges the hospitality industry faces, not least British young people’s distaste for working in the sector.

Joining Peter on the panel was Phil Forster, external affairs manager at Leeds Bradford Airport

Phil, who has worked as a press officer for Newcastle United and reporter for Sky Sports News, joined Leeds Bradford from Newcastle Airport a year ago following the appointment of David Laws as chief executive.

The airport, which was sold by private equity firm Bridgepoint to Australian fund AMP Capital in 2017, is currently engaged in ambitious growth plans including adding new services, expanding the terminal and a longer term project to improve road and rail access.

But Phil was quick to admit that it is still primarily a “bucket and spade” airport and the target is more business flights to European and long haul destinations – which brought appreciative nods from the 80-strong audience of entrepreneurs, business executives and financial and legal professionals.

Jo Francisco is PR Manager at the Yorkshire Agricultural Society which is no longer just about the Great Yorkshire Show, but includes the Fodder restaurant and farm shop, Yorkshire Event Centre, Pavilions of Harrogate, Countryside Live, Springtime Live and Harrogate Caravan Park.

She told the audience that the society has many other roles, not least showing children from inner city backgrounds that milk comes from cows.

The final panel member was Richard Tims who is chairman of Sheffield FC, which is recognised by FIFA and the FA as the world’s first football club.

‘Chairman Rich’ has masterminded a turnaround in the club’s fortunes since taking over in 1999 when the club were playing in front of “one man and a dog” with no fans, no cash and not much hope of making it to the 150th anniversary in 2007.

But a combination of passion for the club and a shrewd business sense has seen the fortunes of the world’s oldest football club transformed including playing Inter Milan to celebrate the 150th anniversary (it was Mario Balotelli’s first game) and Pele telling Richard: “Without you there wouldn’t have been a me.”

With a recent investment by LSG Sports, the club with such an impressive past is now looking forward to an exciting future.

The panellists opinions, insight and humour made my job as host pretty easy and the approach of Neil Muffitt and James Roach and their team at Woodrow Mercer Finance is unique.

They don’t want to position themselves at the centre of the discussion, they would much rather create the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere to enable people to learn about different areas of business and meet new contacts on an enjoyable evening.

It is similar to their approach to recruitment. They are finance directors who recruit finance staff at all levels and their skills really stand out.

At the start of last year they had one office in Leeds and now have bases in Birmingham, Hull and Nottingham with Manchester opening next month.

In his introduction Neil Muffitt said there would be plenty of leisure time for people if the panellists agreed with John Maynard Keynes’ prediction in 1930 that within a century the average working week would be 15 hours.

I don’t know about 2030, I’ve been doing that for years.

:::

WHEN I was a student in Huddersfield The George Hotel – the birthplace of rugby league – was the town’s premier place to stay and the Cedar Court out near the M62 was the height of modern sophistication.

Well times change and The George, which closed six years ago, is now derelict and the Cedar Court is looking a little aged to the point where Alan Partridge might turn his nose up at an extended stay.

Although talking of celebrities, I heard that Ross Kemp was at the Cedar Court last week.

He must be filming his latest Extreme World documentary series in Brighouse.

Anyway I learned last week that Huddersfield does have a luxury hotel.

The Manor House in the village of Lindley has been created by furniture and interior designer Sara Presley.

Sara’s dream of creating a luxury destination hotel began when she jogged past the dilapidated former children’s home that was built as a Victorian Mill owner’s mansion.

Several years and £5.5m later the grade II listed Manor House opened its doors last Easter.

It is a hugely impressive project, which has already become a popular wedding venue.

Sara has complemented the heritage features of the old house with luxurious fabrics, stunning colours and glittering accessories. 

Welcome to Yorkshire held its Y30 Spring Dinner for its corporate members there last week and the Manor House impressed everyone.

The design is complemented by superb Yorkshire hospitality, with the hotel receiving an AA rating of 5 gold stars.

Sara was away on a business trip to China last week so the dinner was hosted by her husband Mike, a warm and likeable fella who runs Mobus Fabrics in Elland.

The Manor House at Lindley, which has 11 rooms, is an impressive addition to the list of Yorkshire’s luxury boutique hotels.

With room prices north of £200 each it will be a test of how far Huddersfield has developed since my days there as a student.

:::

WHEN I dropped in to meet Andrew Brook-Dobson of Harrogate-based financial planning firm BDB the other day it was like a trip down restaurant memory lane.

As I approached the entrance to the firm’s smart new office on Hornbeam Park – neighbours include trendy fragrances firm NEOM and interior design expert Richard Grafton – I recognised a tall grey haired figure delivering coffees to occupants of the building.

Martin Spalding used to own Leeds restaurants of yore Leodis, Paris and the Plush bar.

He told me he now has the Harrogate franchise for a mobile coffee business.

And when I went into BDB’s offices Andrew and communications manager Celine Delasalle showed me a new art installation that they have supported called Rose of Hope.

That was inspired by Janice Richardson of the charity Bloomin Yorkshire who used to run the Pickled Pepper cafe at the Round Foundry in Leeds and whose restaurateur husband Phil was the face of Leodis before opening the Foundry restaurant next to the Pickled Pepper in Holbeck.

Small world.

Janice founded Bloomin Yorkshire after she lost a close friend and fellow dialysis patient.

She said: “The very day Tony passed away the first white rose bloomed in my garden, he was such a proud Yorkshire man and it was like a sign. I just knew that I could use the Yorkshire Rose, a symbol of our great county, to spread the joy and positivity I feel about life and where I live no matter what life’s challenges bring.”

Janice’s own story has inspired many people to support her charity.

Her approach to life is that it is “bloomin marvellous” despite plenty of challenges.

As a teenager her parents were warned she may suffer from kidney failure, but it wasn’t until her forties that her life hung in the balance.

Janice started dialysis but a series of illnesses led to total organ failure.

She was in a coma for weeks at St James Hospital in Leeds.

Against all odds Janice survived, but two kidney transplants including one from her sister, have failed. Janice’s chances of getting another transplant are highly unlikely due to past medical complications and dialysis is needed 3 times a week.

But try telling her life is tough!

The Rose of Hope project – created to celebrate the charity’s mission to raise awareness and funding for organ donation and kidney research – has been several years in the making.

The Rose of Hope was designed by 10-year-old Isabell Taylor from Pudsey Primrose Hill primary school, the winner of a county wide competition held by Bloomin Yorkshire in 2016.

Pupils were asked to design a new Yorkshire Rose.

A teaching package was sent to participating schools with information on organ donation, healthy lifestyle and preventative action and they helped encourage open discussion on these serious health issues in an informal, fun environment.

Created by Jessica Rose Baker and produced by Yorkshire artist Chris Davies from Freitag Works, the installation attempts to describe the experience of living with kidney disease including the silver metal roses gradually rising above the screen, representing the hope that dialysis offers and the dream that a donor might be found to rise above an uncertain future.

BDB has an interesting approach to financial planning, acting as a ‘personal financial director’ for its clients and with an ethos that real wealth is measured in time, relationships and experiences.

You only need to chat to Janice to appreciate that, so BDB’s support for Bloomin Yorkshire’s Yorkshire Rose is a perfect partnership.

Bloomin Yorkshire is selling Yorkshire Roses and every purchase helps someone needing a transplant.

To purchase a rose go to www.bloominyorkshire.co.uk

:::

I LIKE to think years of getting a verbal kicking from news editors for making a mistake when filing a story means that I don’t tend to make many.

But last week’s blog featured two prominent mistakes – as some readers were kind enough to point out.

I probably can’t blame my computer’s spell check function for changing the name of the famous David Bowie album from Hunky Dory to Hunky Corey.

And I don’t think I’ve had any homoerotic dreams about a bloke called Corey so it must have been a genuine mistake.

And I typed up stockbroker Keith Loudon’s million step challenge as his million mile challenge.

“I’ve finished my million step challenge, but if you want me to do a million miles I’ll carry on walking!” said 85-year-old Keith when he phoned me last week.

You just can’t get the sub editors any more.

Have a great weekend.

 

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