Quick to laugh and with an eye for a good story, Terry Hodgkinson relied on his own grit and determination to pull him up through the Yorkshire business community.
As head of the regional development agency Yorkshire Forward he was responsible for an annual budget of £360m, a huge leap from the Barnoldswick boy who once failed his 11 Plus exams.
The town of ‘Barlick’, as locals call his home town, shifted from Yorkshire to Lancashire following the 1974 boundary shifts, and Terry continues to be a man with one foot on either side of the Pennines.
Out of the 1,500 children at his school, he was among the very first to go to university, winning a scholarship to attend college in Leeds, before Aston University in Birmingham. He said: “I suppose being educated in the West Riding, I became very Yorkshire-centric, but I have still retained my allegiance to Burnley Football Club.”
University became a social education as well as an academic one. The close-knit Barnoldswick community was replaced by a wider network of differing cultures and he retains a close affection with university life, receiving an Honorary Doctorate at the University of Huddersfield in 2010 and acting as a visiting professor for Leeds Metropolitan University.
All this was achieved despite failing his 11 Plus exam, once the benchmark defining a child’s education. To show future generations that exam failure does not equate to failure in life, he established the Alchemists Foundation in 2010. “I have seen the worst and the best,” he said. “There are youngsters that just fall into work, they don’t design their future, but the ones that survive are the ones that weather the storm and work hard, a bit like cream coming to the top.”
Fresh from university, Terry established his first business, Aston Builders and Contractors Ltd. A partner company named Lemmeleg would be established in 2005, and along the way he built many smaller businesses. In 2001 he was appointed to the Heritage Lottery Committee for Yorkshire, while in 2002 he joined Yorkshire Forward, which he then chaired from 2003. Throughout all this his wife Anne, who he met at a dance in 1966, has stood at his side. “She’s a very safe pair of hands and as you grow together you learn about each other’s strengths,” said Terry. “She’s got some phenomenal strengths, so you bounce things against each other and that’s why it’s a strong relationship.”
Family and business have always been closely connected and fathering two daughters led him to look at the role of women in construction. He pioneered ideas such as persuading the BBC to invent Changing Rooms or asking the produces of Bob the Builder to make a female character a joiner. Terry said: “Having two girls changes your life and you look out for them. My life had been very male-orientated and then you come home and it’s all women. I thought, well there’s some work to be done here.”
The family first became acquainted with Whitby when searching with his wife, Anne, for a bolt hole, where they could escape work and “rediscover” family life. They purchased a timber cottage at Larpool, later moving on to Grape Lane. Between these were many construction and restoration projects, but it may be the Engine Shed where the family finally settles down. He said: “We are getting older and we would like to run it. But if we get it right, I think the people of Whitby will claim it as their own.”