“Have an inner belief and absolute confidence in your own ability. If you don’t believe in yourself, you will never make those strides to make advances in life.” -Sir John Hall
The North East’s most famous entrepreneur, Sir John Hall, paid a visit to the Northumberland Church of England Academy in Ashington to find out more about the achievements of pupils in his hometown over the last year.
A miner’s son from North Seaton, Sir John discovered he had a talent for business and property development and his company Cameron Hall Developments went on to mastermind the construction of the MetroCentre. We asked him what advice he had for the next generation of entrepreneurs and about the effect his own schooling has had on his life.
While an education is essential to succeed in an increasingly technological world, he said, the former Newcastle United chairman also praised the school for its investment in extra-curricular enrichment activities, which he believes are vital in developing the self-confidence needed to succeed.
“My advice to students today is always be learning, always have an inquisitive mind, never give up trying. If you can get to university, go to university, but if you don’t, don’t worry. I was always in B stream, never in the A stream. I never had the opportunity to go to university.
“Have an inner belief and absolute confidence in your own ability. If you don’t believe in yourself, you will never make those strides to make advances in life. As you go through life, you will have something, it may be a businessman, a teacher or a priest, but it is something special to you and you develop that talent within you as much as you can.
“There is also the confidence factor. I didn’t have a lot of confidence at my first school. It was going to the grammar school that helped me change my view.
“At home we had no flush toilets, no hot water in the house. Then when I went to grammar school I was introduced to a whole new world. I learned sports, like tennis and football. I learned about art and music, all of these things have an effect on you as you go through life.
“Today the future is technology and you have to be educated as much as you can be. It’s going to very hard in the future to get a job if you are unskilled.
“But the cultural side of education is also very important. I’m a businessman, I’ve made a lot of money, but the one thing I have learned is money doesn’t solve all your problems.
“I just had to find my niche, mine was business and property. Fortunately, I’ve made a lot of money and so, if money is a criterion for success, then I have been very successful. But I’m still a Northumbrian at heart, still an Ashington lad and I’ll never change that.
“Being here today, seeing the new facilities, the sports facility, the army cadets, listening to the choirs and the singing, I am totally enthralled by what has been achieved on the doorstep of my home village.
“The students have to learn as much as they can here and realise the educational part of their life will determine the jobs they get and the life they have in a world that is becoming more technological all the time. I hope they appreciate how much the responsibility is now upon them as individuals to make the most of these wonderful opportunities available to them.”