65 over 65 (part two): celebrating some of the North East's older workers

Business leaders, artists and academics make up the second part of our list

New research has shown that workers aged over 50 contributed a staggering 2.5trillion Euros to the European economy in 2013.

Thousands of people are working past the old default retirement age since the law changed to allow people to stay in their jobs.

Yesterday we celebrated some of our older workers with part one of our “65 over 65” list of people who are still working past the default retirement age.

Here is part two.

Professor Tom Anderson has held a number of positions at Newcastle University, including Head of Computing Science and Dean of Science. He currently works part-time in the School of Computing Science, focusing on outreach work.

After a prolific medical career, John Walton was created a life peer in 1989 as Baron Walton of Detchant. He sits as a crossbencher, whilst holding positions including Secretary of the Rare Diseases Group and Vice President of the charity Parkinson’s UK.

Physicist Professor Mike Reeks teaches courses on continuum mechanics and aerosols at Newcastle University’s School of Mechanical & Systems Engineering

Cancer survivor Stephen Dowd discovered photography whilst recovering from a marriage breakup and the death of his younger brother in 2008. His pictures have since been displayed at galleries across Teesside and sold at auctions, with all profits raised donated to the care of Teesside cancer patients.

Judith Mathias and husband John co-founded Home Scents in 2005, after spotting a gap in the market for natural and eco-friendly cleaning products. She still owns the business and develops all scents used in their products personally.

Brian and Iona Gott
Brian and Iona Gott

Brian and Iona Gott set up transport firm Gott Technical Services 35 years ago. Their son Ian has taken over as director, but both continue to play an active part in running the company.

A former president of Newcastle Law Society, Barry Speker worked as solicitor for Samuel Phillips for 42 years before joining Newcastle law firm Sintons as a consultant. Awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to business and the community in Newcastle, he is also Deputy Lieutenant for Tyne & Wear and chairman of the Chinese Futures Group.

Ian Walker is chairman of Surgo. He has held the positions of surveying director and deputy managing director before taking up his current role as chairman. He has been instrumental in directing the company through the transition into ‘best practice’ procurement methods and has been heavily involved developing Surgo’s partnering projects.

Tom Neill moved with his family from Ayrshire to North Northumberland in 1954 and became a renowned livestock and arable farmer within the region, holding the role of NFU county chairman for Northumberland between 2007 and 2009. Based near the Scottish border, around eight miles north of Wooler, he currently farms a mix of suckler cows, breeding ewes and cereals.

Les Walton has held a number of high profile roles across the North East education sector, and currently chairs the Northern Education Trust. A former head teacher, Mr Walton was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s honours list 2013.

John Elliott founded dehumidifier and water cooler manufacturer Ebac in the early 1970s, and has since grown it to employ more than 200 people with a turnover of more than £15m. Mr Elliott is now chairman and chief executive officer of the firm, and has recently starred in Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire programme.

Chris Dobson
Chris Dobson

Writer and commercial property expert Christopher Dobson is senior partner of Dobson Marketing, an award-winning specialist marketing consultancy. The former journalist was a member of the team that helped to attract Hitachi Rail Europe to Newton Aycliffe, and Chris maintains the best commercial property contacts - and knowledge - in the North East, representing some of the biggest names in the sector within the region and further afield.

John Wood set up North East construction firm Tolent in 1983 with six workmates, and has gone on to grow it into a firm supporting 600 jobs with orders worth over £200m a year. He has been a vocal support of the regional construction industry.

Bruce and Freddy Shepherd run Shepherd Offshore. The last few years have seen the brothers mastermind a £100m rejuvenation of the on the Tyne riverside that has brought hundreds of jobs to the city.

Joe McBeth has recently marked 50 years of service with Stagecoach buses. AFter leaving school at the age of 15 and working for the Co-op dairy, he has worked on the buses since 1964.

Anthony Keith is senior partner of Anthony Keith Architects, based in Gosforth. After an early career in both the public and private sector, he set up his own practice in 1986 and recently completed work on a housing development in Newcastle’s Ouseburn.

Bill Shurmer manages accounts for Teesside-based manufacturer ElringKlinger. He has been with the company for seven years, and previously worked at British Steel who sponsored him through Teesside Polytechnic.

Bill Shurmer
Bill Shurmer

Maurice Hembrough began working for Northumbrian Water in 1968 as a plumber. He has now worked for the first for 46 years and says he loves the variety of his job.

Gill Ancrum joined the Newcastle Building Society in 1982 and worked there until retiring in 2009 at the age of 60. Soon afterwards, she returned to be part of the Society’s pool of staff who are allocated to different branches to provide holiday or illness cover.

At the age of 65, Mike Kinder has recently re-launched his business North Yorkshire Moors Birds of Prey. He goes into schools to do educational sessions, and also is hired by country shows to do displays. He also offers a wedding ring delivery service using a barn owl.

Bob Duffy runs Driver Competence Training on Teesside. They provide a variety of services within the transport industry sector offering training in a range of issues.

Tony Wall runs Allendale Components Limited, a family owned and run precision engineering company based in Redcar. His highly skilled team delivers bespoke precision engineering projects to order.

Cumbrian-born Sir Chris Bonington was much sought after by companies wanting him to endorse their outdoor products, but for the last 30 years he has been synonymous with Berghaus, where he has been non-executive chairman for a long time. As well as helping to build the profile of Berghaus the Everest-conqueror has also benefited from that association and has contributed to the outdoor industry in myriad other ways.

Bernie Johnson founded Middlesbrough-based freight forwarding in 2004 following more than 35 years in the logistics industry. His formative years were spent as a works manager with Van Leeuwen Tubes, a large steel tube stockholder.

Former Journal associate director Brian Nicholls is still an active journalist, despite “retiring” from an illustrious career which saw him set up The Gulf Times in Qatar during the late 1970s and stints on Fleet Street.

Tom Maxfield was sales diector for software company Sage before moving into hotels and opening Seaham Hall and its sister hotel The Samling in the Lake District. He is still a director at growing Tyneside firm Utilitywise.

Duncan Bannatyne
Duncan Bannatyne

Duncan Bannatyne is one of the region’s best known business figures, having made money from property, gymns and nursing homes, as well as being a regular on TV programme Dragons’ Den.

Sir Peter Vardy is a prominent businessman and philanthropist in the North East. He still active in charity work in the region, particularly in the areas of education and homelessness.

Robert Hepple and his wife Ann still help to run the family business Stanley Travel. The firm now involves five generations of their family.

John Coatsworth is renowned for his “curvation” pictures of Tyneside. A former designer at the Journal, he has been a full-time artist since the 1990s.


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Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
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