Students hope for inspiration when business leaders visit

Entrepreneur Neil Stephenson, left, with South Tyneside College principal Alison Maynard, and former chair of governors Les Watson.
Entrepreneur Neil Stephenson, left, with South Tyneside College principal Alison Maynard, and former chair of governors Les Watson.

Students in South Tyneside could get a head start in business when they tap into the knowledge of three entrepreneurs.

The annual Be Inspired Week starts at South Tyneside College on Monday.

Coun John Anglin has told of his hope for homegrown talent to "grow and flourish".

Coun John Anglin has told of his hope for homegrown talent to "grow and flourish".

As part of that, entrepreneurs Neil Stephenson, Caroline Ormston and Michael Owen will take to the podium in a bid to inspire learners looking to take a similar path.

Les Watson, a former chairman of college governors, said: “I’m delighted that these entrepreneurs will be passing on their experience and insight.

“Academic qualifications are very important, but life is also about working hard and making the most of opportunities.

“That is the kind of message that will inspire our students to do well while at college and to also seize life’s chances when they arise.”

Mr Stephenson, 45, from South Shields, grew data hosting company Onyx’s annual turnover from £1million to £30million in 15 years, as he rose from marketing director to chief executive.

He finally oversaw its sale to Berkshire-based Pulsant in 2016.

Mrs Ormston, meanwhile, set up Hebburn-based Feminine Grace Beauty School and Parlour last year, and Mr Owen is the founder and managing director of North East designer clothing firm Always Wear Red.

Mr Stephenson wants to support young people looking to make their way.

He said: “I’m very much looking forward to coming into the college to speak to the students and to support them as much as I can. It is important that, as well as studying hard, they have opportunities to broaden their learning by hearing about other people’s experiences.

“That’s why I think Be Inspired Week is so very well worth supporting.”

Be Inspired Week is part of the college’s Dr Winterbottom Charitable Fund initiative, launched last year to support and inspire students in learning and life.

The five-day programme is supported by business development agency TEDCO and South Tyneside Council.

Coun John Anglin, lead member for regeneration and economy at South Tyneside Council, said: “It is always very special to see our home-grown talent grow and flourish. Entrepreneurs like Neil are a real inspiration – especially to young people.

“As a council, we are keen to develop the technology sector and look forward to nurturing and supporting more emerging and established businesses in the borough.”