'I'm here for the long haul in this wonderful place'
- Credit: Blanchard Media
I first came to Torbay by chance. A good pal from my home town of Harrogate had casually recommended it for a holiday, talking about this beautiful bay and palm trees everywhere. Being a Northerner, this sounded pretty good to me. So, I took him up on it and booked a holiday in the Spring of 2005.
When I turned up, I immediately got what he was talking about. I was absolutely knocked sideways by the Bay. I’d never seen anything so stunning. There was plenty to do here too, loads of beaches, boat trips, pubs, clubs, places to visit, places to eat and things to do. And of course, those never-ending views of the sea. The sun seemed to shine every day and the night club scene around the harbour was just buzzing. I had an incredible time and realised that I not only wanted to visit again, but I wanted to make a life here. So, I started to think about business ventures.
I looked around the area and everywhere I saw potential. Admittedly there were some parts of the town that were somewhat run down. For example, Torwood Street was a bit of a mess. I thought the one-way system around Torquay was ridiculous. Paignton seafront wasn’t looking too special at the time. As for the town’s Crossways shopping precinct, words rather fail me to describe its awfulness. Thank goodness that’s all changing.
My background is in construction. One of my major projects whilst still living in Harrogate was a huge landscaping project for the Great Yorkshire Showground. But I’m also a serious petrol head with long experience in mechanical work. My passion is for custom cars. In my spare time, I love to attend custom car shows and my cars have been featured in specialist magazines. Since I moved south, I have been running garages around the Bay offering specialist services for cars and bikes through my company Celtic Racing.
As well as motoring, I’ve always loved a good night out in a club. Having had such good times in what was the former 400 Ballroom, I couldn’t resist taking a look when I discovered the lease was up for sale. It was fairly dilapidated, to be honest, but the magic was still there. It has a wonderful layout, with the mezzanine floor. And of course, I’ve since acquainted myself more with its amazing history. I’m aware that I’m taking on quite a legacy with this building. But it’s definitely worth it.
We’re determined to restore it to its former glory but with a modern twist and give the Bay something I feel it needs: a great night out in a safe environment in a prime harbourside location. I hope people will come along and have the same great memories that I did when I first came here.
But that’s not the end of the story. I’m looking at a five-year plan to invest in further ventures in the Bay, including cafés, restaurants and some building developments. It’s no coincidence that the bay is welcoming new hotels being built. Those investors also see the potential here and are prepared to spend money. I’m here for the long run too, and I’m even involving my son in the projects so that he can one day carry it on.
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Lockdown is of course depressing, but it won’t go on for ever. Sooner or later, we will all get through this and out the other end. I believe the Bay should be preparing itself for an influx like never before. Staycationing is going to be top of everyone’s list.
There’s far less risk attached to holidaying within the UK so we should be preparing to welcome thousands of first-time visitors who, if they have a great time, will recommend and return. It’s an opportunity we should not be passing up. That’s why I’m here and proud to play my part and invest in such a wonderful place.