South Shields couple hope to make £1million with help of X-Factor-style challenge

Charlie and Shirley McCullagh, from South Shields, hope to make 1million in the Millionaire Maker challenge.
Charlie and Shirley McCullagh, from South Shields, hope to make 1million in the Millionaire Maker challenge.

A South Shields couple are hoping to be millionaires by the end of the year after entering an X-Factor-style property investment competition.

Charlie and Shirley McCullagh, from South Shields, are among 40 contestants taking part in the Millionaire Maker challenge, run by a property wealth education and training company.

Paul Smith, Touchstone Education's chief executive, is the McCullaghs' mentor in the Millionaire Maker competition.

Paul Smith, Touchstone Education's chief executive, is the McCullaghs' mentor in the Millionaire Maker competition.

After passing an audition, they’re now being mentored by judges before facing a public vote in December.

The aim of the contest, organised by Doncaster-based Touchstone Education, is to help as many contestants as possible to generate a turnover of £1million or more.

The first to reach the target will receive a VIP package worth £15,000, including an all-expenses paid trip to a Formula One race weekend with Touchstone.

Charlie and Sunderland-born Shirley, who have four children and three grandchildren between them, met on the dancefloor, learning modern jive, three years ago.

Since then they have been inseparable, and they were married last July.

The couple already have a sizeable residential property portfolio, and are now focusing on commercial and residential developments to reach their £1million turnover target this year.

Shirley, who works as a building manager in Newcastle, said: “Taking part in Millionaire Maker is pushing us faster and further than we thought possible, but we’re a resilient couple with a zest for life.

“We’re passionate about positive mindset and believe that you can do anything you set your mind to, so we’re sharing all our knowledge with family and friends.

"Frankly, they are all amazed that we have taken up this monumental challenge."

Charlie, who's originally from Canada and has lived in the UK since 1985, said: “We’ve been told real growth happens at the junction between chaos and order, and at the moment we seem to be experiencing more chaos than order!

"Nevertheless, our learning experience will ultimately help us create financial security and a legacy for our families."

The competition began in earnest in January, when competitors submitted business plans and were asked to explain what they wanted from the process and what they hoped to achieve, other than to make money.

A final group of 25 was selected by judges, based on the quality of their submissions and on their determination to succeed.

They have been split into two teams, one mentored by Touchstone’s chief executive Paul Smith and managing director Abi Hookway, and the other by Paul’s wife and business partner Aniko, and the company’s commercial director Gordon Dutfield, with each battling to produce the first millionaire.

After visiting judges’ houses for an intensive training weekend, the contestants are now putting their business plans into practice with help and advice from mentors during weekly catch-up sessions. Each contestant is keeping a video diary to provide a record of their investment journey.

Touchstone, which runs courses and seminars across the UK focused on investment in property, launched the competition as a way of bringing investors together to share their experiences and expertise.

Paul Smith said: “We’re always looking for new ways to impart our knowledge, and this X-Factor style competition helps to generate some energy and excitement around the process.

“By adding a competitive edge, there’s an added incentive for our investors, with help from our staff, to push themselves further to make their property portfolios worker harder for them.

“We’ve already seen some early wins for our investors and, even at this early stage, several are on course to reach the £1million mark by the end of the year.”