Business boss passes on a world of experience

Richard Markwell with Bridlington School headteacher Kate Parker-Randall in the library where he studed half a century ago
Richard Markwell with Bridlington School headteacher Kate Parker-Randall in the library where he studed half a century ago

He has visited 100 countries, met Tony Blair, Theresa May and Vladimir Putin, and managed to get his musical hero to play at his 60th birthday party.

When Bridlington School was looking for a former pupil to inspire the next generation at a careers day, Richard Markwell was the perfect choice.

Richard Markwell back at Bridlington School

Richard Markwell back at Bridlington School

Especially when you add in the fact he has also bought an Aston Martin car, having been inspired by James Bond films.

It’s a far cry from his days of getting the school bus from Driffield as a teenager.

Richard, who is managing director of agricultural giant Massey Ferguson, said: “I came to Bridlington School in 1964 and I had no idea what I was going to do. My passions were photography, cards and music.

“I came from a small, terraced, two-up, two-down house in Driffield - a humble background - but Bridlington School opened my eyes to lots of different things.

“It exposed me to different subjects, including languages. I couldn’t see the point in learning a foreign language and my lowest mark in my first term was in French.

“But I had a French teacher called Bill Brown and he started talking about France, the place and its culture, rather than the language, and it inspired me to think ‘maybe I will go there one day’.

At the age of 17, Richard won a writing competition run by the Lions Club and he spent three months in Paris, the Loire Valley and Brittany.

“Learning a foreign language took on another meaning,” he said.

He completed his A-Levels at Bridlington School and headed for the London School of Economics to study for a degree. With a love of languages embedded, he began work at Massey Ferguson and has stayed with the company ever since.

Richard, who is now based in the Midlands after spells working in France and Canada, amongst others, said: “I have travelled to over 100 countries and seen extremes of poverty and wealth, I have met the last four French presidents and had lunch at the Elysees Palace.”

On Tuesday, he was back at Bridlington School to speak to students about how they can chase their dreams.

Speaking to the Free Press in the school library, and finding features which hadn’t changed in 50 years, he said: “They can achieve anything once they make their minds up what they want to achieve.

“Bridlington School was a turning point in my life and if I can help the school in any way, I will.

“I had a great time here and I try to get back to the Old Bridlingtonians dinner every December.
“I met some good people who have remained friends and had some great teachers.”

One man he could never have envisaged becoming a friend was his musical idol Greg Lake, but a chance meeting with a contact at the House of Lords led to him booking the rock star to perform at his 60th birthday celebrations in Driffield.

“You have to have dreams in life,” said Richard - and now he hopes Bridlington School’s students will follow theirs.