Category Archives: Featured

Theo chats to BBC Breakfast and BBC 5 Live’s Wake up to Money about dyslexia

On 15th October Theo spoke to BBC Breakfast TV and BBC 5 Live’s ‘Wake up to Money’ show about how having dyslexia has brought about his success.

A report released by charity Made by Dyslexia, showed that 40% of self made millionaires are dyslexia but yet only 4% of the public think that having dyslexia is a positive trait. The report also said that people with dyslexia have a “unique set of skills”.  These include reasoning, communicating and visualising – all identified as key attributes for a modern workforce by the World Economic Forum.

Talking openly about the difficulties he faced during his years at school, Theo spoke about the benefits it has brought about for him in later life:

“For me dyslexia was an advantage, as painful as it was…If I hadn’t had dyslexia I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t be here today because I wouldn’t have gone down the path I went down.

“Even as an 11-year-old I remember quite clearly learning to get round the things I had to do and finding another solution. Whatever it was I had to find another solution.

“It really gave me that confidence to be able to tackle anything in business, but not from an arrogant point of view or a false confidence, but how hard can it be? To look at the problem, break it down find a solution.”

He added: “I think the early years of dyslexia, where you learn to deal with those issues, are the best lessons of life you’re ever going to have.”

Theo said that the reason many entrepreneurs are dyslexia is two-fold “one, they are good at problem solving, but secondly no one else would give them a job.”

Theo inaugurated as Chancellor of Solent University

On Thursday 11th October, Theo headed to Southampton where he was inaugurated as Chancellor of Solent University. On a day steeped in tradition, Theo was warmly welcomed by the Vice Chancellor, Graham Baldwin and many of the University’s representatives.

On arrival at Solent, Theo was able to chat to some of the local media about his new role and discuss his ambitions for the University. He mentioned that his motto for life is “be the best you can be” and he believes that Solent gives its Students the opportunity to do just that with its fantastic facilities and brilliant teaching staff.

Two students who are studying for a Multimedia Journalism degree at the University came to interview Theo. It was an opportunity to learn a bit more about student life, after which Theo even said “I wish I was a student here!”

At 6pm guests started to arrive which included friends, family and local business leaders who were greeted to a reception at the state-of-the art The Spark building which Theo opened in 2017. At 6.45pm the ceremony began with a precession onto the stage alongside many of the University leaders.

The ceremony was opened by the University Orator, Professor Peter Lloyd, which was followed by an address from the Vice-Chancellor which covered the fantastic progress the University has made in the last 10 years. The pro-chancellor and Chairman of the Board of Governors, Phil Cotton, then delivered the encomium for Theo, the formal welcome and introduction of Theo and his achievements. This was followed by the official inauguration which saw Theo receive his black and gold Chancellor gown.

The President of Solent Students’ Union delivered an address which welcomed Theo on behalf of the students and furthered the points raised by the Vice-Chancellor on how Solent has risen in all the newspaper league tables and achieved TEF Silver, in recognition of the University’s excellent teaching.

Newly inaugurated Chancellor, Theo, addressed the congregation announcing to the audience that he also felt like a fresher! He thanked the University for the brilliant work that they have done, recently  jumping 15 places in The Sunday Times University Guide.

Theo highlighted that at the heart of the University is ambition; the students, professors and the investment all being a reflection of that. He went on to talk about how Solent is not an Ivory Tower, but that is why Solent offers so much to its students with its real life ethos.

Theo also reflected on his own school experience, and noted the importance of the teaching staff and how it just takes one brilliant teacher to inspire a student.

As Chancellor, Theo will be the ceremonial head of the University and one of its most important ambassadors, representing the University externally, both nationally and internationally, working closely with the Vice-Chancellor and the Pro-Chancellor.

Commenting on the day Vice-Chancellor, professor Graham Baldwin, said: Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Baldwin, says: “Theo joins us at an exciting and challenging time for higher education. No stranger to Solent or the broader sector, with two of his daughters graduating from the University, I am confident Theo’s appointment will help to strengthen our position as a local and global institution.

“Solent plays a key role in supporting local and regional economies, sharing knowledge, skills and resources with the local community. With his knowledge and experience from industry, Theo will also help us to strengthen partnerships and further enhance our commitment to real world learning.”

Theo heads to Wimbledon BookFest to talk all things retail

On Wednesday 10th October Theo headed to Wimbledon BookFest on Wimbledon Common for an interview with James Ashton to talk about the current retail environment and the future of the high street.

In a location very well known to Theo, who regularly walks his dog Gladys on the Common, a beautifully lit stage greeted a packed audience full of local businesses and members of Merton Chamber. As the TPRG head office is just down the hill, some colleagues came along to hear Theo’s view on the latest news in retail.

James Ashton, a journalist who has been City Editor and Executive Editor of the London Evening Standard and before that City Editor of the Sunday Times, questioned Theo on the current retail climate, business rates and even took him on a trip down memory lane to where his passion for retail started, as a school boy running a tuck shop!

Brexit and politicians were also a key topic of the evening, with Theo commenting on the current confusion around Brexit and how politicians seem to be more interested in their careers than getting the job done!

After the interview, it was opened up to the floor where Theo was asked about the importance of the local community for business and how to attract the right candidates for jobs.

Wimbledon BookFest is a charity promoting arts, culture and education. Its aim is to develop the cultural offering for the local community through provision of an annual arts festival and educational projects with schools and young people.

Theo Judges Many Hands Final 2018

On Tuesday 2nd October Theo judged the Many Hands finals, a local business competition in aid of the Royal Manchester Children’s Charity. Fellow judges included Shelina Begum, Business Editor of Manchester Evening News and Maurice Watkins, Chairman of Many Hands. This year marks the last year for Theo, who has supported the campaign for 10 years and seen 180 businesses pitch fantastic business ideas to raise money for charity.   

As part of the campaign, businesses are asked to compete to raise a minimum of £1000 for the charity in 6 months, each year the ideas get more original than the last and this year was no exception! Whittled down from the high number of entries the 4 finalists had to battle it out with a pitch to Theo and fellow judges to clinch first prize.

First up to pitch was Small Business Emporium, who had many strings to its bow to raise the money but the main event was a charity evening where there was live entertainment, DJ, food, an auction and raffle as well as pop-up businesses. One of the small businesses had created a handmade felt mouse hospital which was auctioned and re auctioned again to raise money for the charity. They managed to raise a brilliant total of £2,536 and this continues to rise.Their pitch highlighted that their campaign “all started with a mouse..!”

Next up to the podium was Jones & Co Opticians who fundraised as part of their 9th birthday celebrations. Running a £90 promotion on a special line of glasses, a client appreciation event and a silent auction. The winner received a dinner and drinks with the whole team, a great way to encourage the whole company to get involved in the campaign. In total they raised a huge £4035!

We are Gntlmen, an online retailer of menswear, were next up to pitch to Theo and the judges. For the campaign they created an exclusive shirt called the ‘Humphrey’ shirt. It was a white Oxford shirt with brand logo and the charity mascot, ‘Humphrey’ embroidered onto the left cuff. They retailed the shirt at £40 and all the proceeds went towards their total. Prior to the finals the team had raised £1,440. They also worked alongside singer songwriter Frank Turner who backed the campaign and helped to raise awareness. A great idea which really encorporated the charity right down to the finite detail.

The final business to pitch were Shoot the Moon, a creative agency. The company’s objective was to create a cookbook with recipes from local businesses in Manchester. Their Kickstarter campaign raised £3,581 which was more than enough to cover the costs of the book and also give back to the Charity. A great pitch and one that really involved the local community.

The judges had a very difficult decision to make, with so many great pitches and worthy campaigns. Theo took to the stage to announce the winner and, just like the X Factor, there was a very long pause…and We are Gntlmen were crowned the Many Hands winners for 2018, for a fantastic campaign and brilliant design.

As part of the event Theo took to the stage to do an in conversation with Paul Horrocks, former Daily Mail journalist and Editor of Manchester Evening News. It gave a real incite into the potted history of the life and times of Theo!

As it was Theo’s final year with Many Hands, Maurice presented him an award to recognise his outstanding contribution in support of Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Theo gets a tour of Warsash School of Maritime Science Engineering at Solent University

Ahead of Theo’s inauguration as Chancellor of Solent University Theo headed to the Warsash School of Maritime Science and Engineering for a tour and to hear about the exciting courses and projects they offer to students.

The day started off with a tour of the East Park Terrace campus, including a lecture about the university and the Warsash School.

After lunch Theo was treated to a tour of St Mary’s Campus where he was shown some of the engineering facilities which included a ride on the towing tank and also met Baxter, a robot!

Theo then took a trip to the Solent University Ship Handling Centre where he took part in the naming ceremony of a new boat, Eternity. He joined the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Julie Hall to pour champagne on the bow of the boat and then Theo got to steer the boat on its maiden voyage!

It was a jam packed day for Theo and a great insight into the fantastic facilities that Solent University offers.