I am marking the end of an era following the sale of my business, the Wakefield Media & Creativity Centre at King Street, Wakefield.
Being a former ‘Wakefield Business of the Year’, ‘Yorkshire Public Relations Professional of the Year, and ‘Yorkshire Regeneration Pioneer Award’ winner it ends a 35 year relationship with the city and Yorkshire.
I was founder director of the Wakefield Media Centre and former Managing Director of GREEN public relations. I’m now focussing on a new career, based in Barry Island in south Wales, where I am planning to launch in the New Year a new social enterprise, ‘Grow Social Capital’ to tackle the changing levels of social capital in communities across the UK.
I was an active figure in the Wakefield and the Yorkshire business community. I was a former Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Yorkshire group, creating in 1994 the world’s first Festival of Public Relations in Leeds – a week-long celebration of the public relations profession, a member of the first Board for the Huddersfield Media Centre and the Round Foundry Media Centre, Leeds, and also a judge on the Yorkshire Awards. (For my sins I was a member of the panel that bestowed the ‘Yorkshireman of the Year’ award on Jimmy Saville. I did atone with a contrite feature article in the Yorkshire Post many years later.)
For the Wakefield district I served as a Board member on the Wakefield City Centre Partnership, and also the Wakefield Theatres Trust. I set up a residents group at my home on St. John’s Square Wakefield, where on leaving we planted a tree to mark my family’s local roots.
My legacies for Wakefield and Yorkshire include:
• Transforming in the late 1980’s the County’s Yorkshire Day celebrations on August 1st with a national award-winning campaign which raised over 10 years an estimated £250,000 for local charities
• In 1991 saving the Leeds-based Treats Ice Cream company (later to become Richmond Ice Cream) from closure by Unilver
• Conceived and delivered an award-winning creative industries hub, the Wakefield Media Centre, creating new jobs, training opportunities and cultural events in an area hit by the decline of the mining industry and is still running after 14 years
• The ‘Story of Media’ statue on the outside of the Wakefield Media Centre building which I designed with local artist John Milsom
• Opening the first IndyCube co-working centre in England at the Wakefield Media Centre
• Putting Wakefield on the creative industries map with the first major public relations agency to be based in the city and establishing a local creative industries networks, the forerunner to the city’s Cognitiv group, now part of the Wakefield BID
• Creating an Investors in People backed graduate training scheme providing a chance for local graduates to get their first break in PR
• Five of my former staff now running their own public relations agencies in the region
• Was a founder director of the Bully-Banks campaign group which secured partial justice for 18,200 small businesses across the UK who were recognised as victims of bank mis-selling who received £2.2 billion in redress
Reflecting on my time in Wakefield and Yorkshire I became an adopted Yorkshireman and am both proud of helping others during my time, but also sad in marking the end of an era cutting my formal ties to Wakefield and Yorkshire.
We had many good laughs over the years. Like the time I had the idea of inventing a new art form ‘audio sculpture’ by making our Media Centre Britain’s only ‘moo-ing building’ (we broadcast the sound of a cow moo-ing every hour.) I got my old mate Jay Jones, who lives in San Francisco to do a photocall while he was visiting us, posing as a ‘Californian Audio Sculpturist’.