Greatest feats: Peter Udall

September 3, 2020

Peter Udall, strategic director, economy, innovation and growth at Gateshead Council, shares the acts he’s been most inspired by

What is the greatest physical feat you’ve witnessed by an individual and why?

The greatest physical feat award must go to care workers, other frontline workers and the NHS. We all appreciated the efforts of those that we became to realise were essential to the maintaining of our lives and our communities, but, despite the applause, we soon forget and argue the affordability of the living wage for such key workers. Those people who look after others who are more vulnerable, deserve our recognition and respect and we need to remember that after the current crisis passes.

I would like to see a shift in how we value the contribution we each make to our communities and how we measure success. It has become clear that the supermarket workers and delivery people and refuse collectors and other essential workers have helped carry us through this pandemic.

Which demonstration of intelligence/mental strength has most impressed you?

It is most remarkable when individuals who have a choice, take the more difficult option rather than the easy path. Choosing to follow a less popular path and embrace the consequences does take a particular sort of person. For example, Greta Thunberg, who has shown our youth what can be achieved by determination, or the remarkable Malala Yousafzai, a strong and outspoken advocate for girls’ education who was shot on a school bus by the Taliban. She survived and continued to protest for the rights of all women to receive an education, and became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

What do you consider to be the greatest feat in business and why?

I have been incredibly impressed over the last few months of lockdown by the resilience and the innovation of some businesses in changing business models and delivering new solutions as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The North East has always been innovative from Joseph Swan’s first electric lightbulb to Stephenson’s Rocket, but we have seen local businesses and facilities change their modus operandi and put their resources into delivering PPE such as Jag Design, which started manufacturing visors and reusable face masks, and Steampunk Spirits, which produced antibacterial hand gel.

The home schooling requirements have developed new digital learning resources, and immersive technology has allowed people to stray beyond their lockdown confines, albeit virtually.

The digital innovation in the region bodes well for our ambitions around the NewcastleGateshead Quays development, using immersive technologies to provide not only amazing experiences for those who visit but to cater for hybrid events and experiences with the potential to broadcast to global audiences, again leading the way globally in that space.

Meanwhile, the North East has been home to the world’s first socially distant concerts, showing a potential way forward to creative industries across the globe.

Which act of generosity has inspired you the most and why?

The most important contribution that anyone can make to our society is to help equip future generations to be happy and healthy people who make positive contributions to society. Most families do this incredibly important feat for those children who grow up in a loving and caring family, whatever its makeup. But some children are not so fortunate and I applaud the work and generosity of those people who help our ‘looked after’ children. Foster parents and carers and all those people who work tirelessly in sometimes difficult circumstances, to give our looked after children the start in life they deserve.

Peter Udall

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