Latest News | 24 February 2016

Live TV and a Simon Cowell message – just another day…

Share this post:

If ever I needed a reminder of how cruel time flies, it’s the speed with which this Talking Business column becomes due each month.

Invariably, the week before, I find myself gently prompted by a friendly, but firm, email from the Telegraph team asking ‘when can we expect your piece to be submitted John?’ 

This always has the desired effect, panicking me into dreaming up bright ideas that might throw some light on the business of Derby in 600 words or so.

My final alarm call is Russell Rigby, the incredibly active commercial agent, who writes his column the week before mine. By the time I see his byline, I generally have an idea of a theme and hope that Russell has chosen a different topic to write about.

No luck on that one this week. 

Last Wednesday, Russell chose to cover off the Derby’s city living residential revolution – exactly my planned theme. 

As the deadline approached, my page remained blank and I scoured for a Plan B.

Then, last Thursday morning, something happened that made me think what a special city, filled with special businesses and people, we have here.

That morning, there was a Marketing Derby Bondholder event planned at the Roundhouse. 

It was a cold and bright morning as I drove onto Pride Park, as the rising sun caught the Derby Arena. 

I then saw a large group of cyclists, all uniform and lycra tearing along Pride Parkway with impressive velocity and formation. It was the British Cycling Team, no doubt having warmed up in the Arena before heading for the hills.

We can take our day-to-day environment for granted, and I think sometimes it’s really important to step back for perspective. 

We race through Pride Park, heads down like cyclists, focused on getting from A to B.

With a few minutes in my pocket, I drove around to take in the scale of the activity based on, what was, a land-locked polluted wasteland only 20 years ago.

Today, Pride Park houses 1,000,000 sq ft of offices (97% occupied) employing some 13,000 people. 

Lawyers, accountants, developers, contact centres, agents, banks, rail-tech companies, recruiters – these, and many more, provide the economic mojo. 

Add to this the hotels, leisure and retail operators, educational institutions and a myriad of sports facilities and you essentially have a vibrant community the size of many towns.

Arriving at the Roundhouse, with its juxtaposition of heritage and ultra-modern, it was hard not to think of how, less than 10 years ago, this complex stood empty and dilapidated. 

Again, it was local geniuses, architects and construction companies, who delivered Derby College’s vision of a world-class campus. 

On Thursday, the main part of the Roundhouse had been taken over by the National Winter Ales Festival (again, imagine that coming to Derby only a few years ago), so our event was located in the Engine Shed Restaurant.

Here about 150 businesses, representing every size and sector and all that is best about Derby, had gathered to hear Dean Jackson, local entrepreneur and owner of Bondholder company Huub, announce the details for the 2016 Jenson Button Triathlon.

Dean, a local guy, has grown Huub from start-up to a world-leading brand in this niche sporting sector. More than that, Dean had the wherewithal to go to F1 ace, Jenson Button, and convince him to bring his prestigious sporting event to Derby.

We were in for another surprise that morning, as a special guest, the amazing Bailey Matthews, announced he was bringing his triathlon to the city too.

At this point, I should point out that Bailey is nine years old, living with cerebral palsy. His unaided completion of his first triathlon got 80 million hits on You Tube. Last year, Bailey was honoured at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony. You may remember, he stole the show – as he did in Derby on Thursday.

Oh yeah, did I mention that ITV’s Good Morning Britain covered the event live, that Simon Cowell sent a special message, and that enthusiastic Derby College apprentices served up a breakfast treat?

As I left the Roundhouse, still early at 9.30am, I reflected – just another Derby day!

Related Articles...

This will close in 0 seconds