A Northumberland entrepreneur is using money from the sale of his multi-million pound company to help young people get into engineering.
Tony Platten, chairman and owner of Blyth-based business Tynetec, has joined with the Community Foundation to create the Platten Family Fund with his wife Anne.
Mr Platten, who sold his electronic engineering company to the French multi-national company Legrand Electric at the start of this year, said he hoped the £100,000-a-year fund would encourage young people to consider engineering as a career.
“There’s no way I could have spent that money,” said Mr Platten, of Blyth in Northumberland. “My wife and I have no ambition to have somewhere in the likes of Monte Carlo to go to three times a year.
“I have always supported various charities with Tynetec over the years and it seemed like the logical thing to do.”
The fund will support education and training projects across Tyne and Wear and Northumberland, making the Plattens the latest family to open a philanthropic fund at the Community Foundation.
Through the fund, the family will support the region with around £100,000 in grant-making a year to help people into employment, with a particular focus on engineering.
“It is going to be £100,000 a year for the foreseeable future,” said Mr Platten, who is also chairman of Blyth Spartans AFC. “The primary aim of the fund is to try and get young people interested in all forms of engineering but also to make them think of engineering as a career.
“There’s going to be a colossal shortage of engineers in the future, this is my little attempt to help.”
The Royal Academy of Engineering estimates that 830,000 graduate-level Stem (Science, technology, engineering and maths) experts and 450,000 technicians will be needed by 2020 and it is hoped that funding from the Platten Family Fund will go some way to encouraging people to consider engineering as a career move.
Mr Platten, who started his company as a corner shop 35 years ago, said: “Anne and I are delighted to establish charitable funds at the Community Foundation. I am passionate about education and I’d like to encourage young people in particular to think about engineering as a career.
“This was the driving force of our philanthropy, and I believe that by working with the Community Foundation we can really make a difference to people’s lives by providing a stepping stone into engineering employment.
“The North East led the world in engineering for over 150 years, it’s time to re-establish that position.”
When Tynetec was sold turnover was £13m and the company employed 120 staff up and down the country.
Lisa Cappleman, head of philanthropy development at the Community Foundation said: “Tony and Anne’s decision to support local people through funds at the Community Foundation is wonderful news for our area.
“Research through our own Vital Signs reports highlight many areas in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland where people lack basic skills and qualifications.
“Through Tony and Anne’s philanthropy we can help to address these issues and provide a better future for many people.”
In addition to the fund, Mr Platten, through his role with Blyth Spartans AFC, has offered free in-kind sponsorship to the Community Foundation as the clubs main shirt sponsor.
He said: “Blyth Spartans is a local club full of ambition. Whilst I wouldn’t want to make comparisons between our charitable sponsorship to that of Barcelona and UNICEF, I do believe that ambition is best shown by example.”
Ash Winter OBE, chair of the board of trustees at the Community Foundation added: “We were delighted to be approached by Tony with the offer of free sponsorship of Blyth Spartans.
“Community is our cause, and we hope this new exposure can help us to reach new audiences, to extend our giving to those who really need our support.”