I was born and raised on Teesside but spent my twenties and early thirties living all over the country. I settled back here 19 years ago and apart from a brief spell in Bilbao in 2009, have been here ever since. I think I am here for the duration, but life takes us in unexpected directions, so you never know.
There are so many clever, innovative and hardworking people in the North East, every day brings fresh inspiration.
Newcastle is a great city, has a real buzz about it and is our regional capital. It attracts a lot of leisure visitors to the region and you see them having a great time. That’s a good thing for all of us.
My favourite place to spend some quality leisure time is The Riverside Stadium watching the Boro. It’s an emotional rollercoaster but it’s one of the few places left where you can really let off steam.
Building Atom Bank has been so all-consuming over the past few years that I have had little opportunity to eat out. But I love the fish and chips at Bells Fish and Chip restaurant; it’s traditional, good quality, honest food.
The best corporate facilities I’ve experienced in the region are at Durham County Cricket Club. It feels very intimate and relaxed. Cricket epitomises the English summer.
The best view in the North East is from Captain Cook’s monument. It encapsulates everything the region is about. You’re standing on the ironstone that built Teesside’s steel works – visible to the north, alongside the petrochemical plants – 30 per cent of our GDP in a complex of national importance. Looking west, the rich agricultural land that attracted much of our culture over the centuries, courtesy of the Romans, Normans and Vikings. Turn south and take in the wilderness of the North York Moors, and to the East; the sea and Teesport.
The North East has some of of the friendliest people in the country but you don’t always appreciate that unless you spend time away.
Wynyard Hall is stunning and worthy of royalty, but it’s the story behind it that inspires me. You would assume it was built on the wealth and connections of Lord Londonderry but, actually, it was the Vane Tempest family and coal mining around Seaham that made it possible.
If I could change or add anything in the North East, it would be a huge foghorn to shout about our region. Somewhere on the journey from being the workshop of the world to the digital age, we seem to have lost a little of our collective confidence. I am certain that our future is bright and we can play as big a part in the digital revolution as we did in the industrial revolution.