Our patrons are here to promote the benefits of the Yorkshire region and the high-quality services, products and work that these Yorkshire companies produce. They are from both public and private sector backgrounds and have experience at the highest level and want to ensure that the skills, knowledge and contacts that they have built is shared to further help and support Yorkshire businesses.

The Yorkshire Enterprise Network Patrons play an incredibly important role throughout Yorkshire as they actively support, champion and gain coverage for the positive work that we, and our members, do on a daily basis.

Their names, contacts, presence and media attention also allow us to gain significant weight to both our regional and national lobbying and representational activities in order to promote our members and the business regions interests within various platforms.

Sir Rodney Walker

Chairman of Goals Soccer Centres PLC
Shareholder & chairman of Sport Pathways Ltd
Chairman of Light song Media Ltd
Vice Chairman of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Sir Rodney has a long and varied career mainly covering sport, health and charity.


His current positions include:

• Chairman of Goals Soccer Centres PLC
• Controlling shareholder & chairman of Sport Pathways Ltd
• Chairman of Light song Media Ltd a company formed to pursue commercial opportunities in the music industry
• Controlling shareholder of Myerscough Holdings Ltd
• Chairman of The Wakefield & District Community Stadium Trust
• A trustee of the London Marathon Charitable Trust
• Vice Chairman of the Wembley National Stadium Trust
• Vice President of the Youth Charter for Sport
• Vice President of the Federation of Disability Sports Organisations
• Vice Chairman of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park & the Yorkshire Landscape Trust Ltd
• Honorary Life President of the Wakefield Theatre Trust
• Founder and Chairman of the Committee responsible for the organisation of the Yorkshire Awards Dinner
• President of the Wakefield Branch of Yorkshire Cancer Research
• Vice President of the Hospital Heartbeat Appeal
• Trustee of the National Mining Museum for England
• Amember of the Council of the Order of St. John for South and West Yorkshire
• A trustee of the St Oswald’s Charitable Trust and the Clarke Hall Farm Trust
• An Honorary Life Vice President of the Rugby Football League
• An Honorary Life Member of Leicester City PLC
• Apatron of The Harold “Dickie” Bird Foundation.

He is also a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors. Together with his wife and two sons he has formed “The Myers cough Charitable Trust” whose primary objectives are to help disadvantaged young people. He was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Bradford in December 1996 in recognition of his services to the county of West Yorkshire.

In the Birthday Honours published in June 1996 the honour of Knight Bachelor was conferred upon him by the Queen for services to sport.

In 2007 First Wakefield awarded Sir Rodney, its inaugural Life Time Achievement Award in recognition of his services to the City, Sport, Business and for leading campaigns which have raised an estimated £40 million for a variety of charities and good causes. In 2008 he was awarded The Yorkshire Man of the Year. In 1998 he was admitted into the Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem in recognition of his services to health in the UK. He is an honorary member of the Rotary Club of Wakefield. In June 2012 Wakefield Council announced that Sir Rodney was to be honoured with the granting of the Freedom of the City in recognition of his services to City, Sport, Business & Charity.

Sir James Hill

Chairman, Dixons Trust of 4 Academies (Bradford)
Chairman, Bradford Matters
Chairman, MHE Energy (West Virginia USA)
Former Chairman – Specialist Schools and Academies Trust
Former Patron York and Humberside Boys Brigade
Former Chairman Bradford Cancer Support


The life of 69-year-old industrialist Sir James Hill reads more like a roll of honours than a biography of a Keighley capitalist. Born in Bradford in December 1943, the 6ft 4in textile giant spent his early years in Yorkshire before going on to Wrekin College, Shropshire. In 1962 he returned to his Bradford roots to complete a three-year textile course at the Bradford Institute of Technology. Sir James then entered the family textile business – a large private wool merchants operation with mills in Bradford, Keighley, Lancashire and Holland.

It was here he was to learn the tricks of the wool trade as an enthusiastic young trainee. Towards the end of the 1960s Sir James spent a year travelling around Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as a trainee wool buyer. When his father retired as chairman of the Sir James Hill Group, Sir James joined the board. His father died in March 1976 after a short retirement.

Sir James inherited his title and the responsibility of running the company which had, by this time, diversified into travel agencies and travel operators under the company name, James Hill Travel.

During the late 1980s, the family business suffered from financial difficulties and the travel interests were sold off to new buyers, alongside all the other various divisions to repay huge debts. This was the low period of Sir James’ flourishing career as a business magnate, as he sadly watched his father’s business go into receivership. But Sir James Hill (Wool) Ltd continued to operate.

Over the last eight years, Sir James has had the opportunity to take on other responsibilities in both Bradford and Keighley. Today, he is well known not only as a wool merchant but as an active volunteer, fundraiser and community activist. “Right now my main push is to promote the Bradford district wherever I can by supporting the regeneration of the area,” he says. “I am a fan of Bradford.”

Gerry Sutcliffe

Former Labour MP for Bradford South (1994 - 2015), Former Leader of Bradford Council

Gerry Sutcliffe is a British Labour Party politician who was Member of Parliament (MP) for Bradford South from 1994 to 2015, and was the Minister for Sport and Tourism in the Brown Government. Prior to being elected to Parliament Gerry served as a Councillor on Bradford Council from 1980 to 1994, serving as Leader of Council between 1992 and 1994.


Tragedy struck in 1994 when the MP for Bradford South, Bob Cryer, died in a car crash. In this trying period, thousands turned out to elect Gerry to represent the constituency he grew up in. He battled for a long list of improvements in the area and soon got noticed in Parliament as a result.

Gerry did stints at the Treasury and Whip’s office before he became Consumer Affairs Minister at the Department for Trade & Industry. Gerry then worked at the Home Office and Ministry for Justice until he was promoted in June 2007 to succeed Richard Caborn as Sports Minister. High on the political career ladder, his determination to build a better Bradford remains as strong as ever.

Gerry is regularly out and about working for Bradford South, but when time allows, he likes to see his grandchildren, watch football and listen to Frank Sinatra.

Philip Davies

Conservative MP for Shipley

Philip graduated from the University of Huddersfield with an Upper Second honours degree in Historical and Political Studies and before being elected, Philip worked for Asda for 12 years, working his way up from the bottom to be a Senior Marketing Manager. When not working Philip enjoys all sports, in particular horse-racing, where Philip is both an owner and a breeder.


Philip was elected to parliament for Shipley in 2005 with a majority of 422 and was re-elected as the MP for Shipley in 2010 with a majority of 9,944. He was also elected onto the Executive Committee of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs in 2006 until May 2012 when he decided to step down. He has also served on the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee since 2006.

Philip is also a member of the newly established Backbench Business Committee and is on the panel of Chairmen for Westminster Hall Debates and the Committee stage of Bills. Philip became the first MP to publicly call for Britain to withdraw from the European Union and is a member of The Freedom Association’s ‘Better Off Out’ campaign. He is also the Parliamentary Spokesman for the Campaign Against Political Correctness. In 2011, Philip won an award at the Spectator Parliamentary Awards as Readers Representative of the Year.

Judith Donovan (CBE)

Judith Donovan CBE was one of the first female entrepreneurs in Yorkshire, founding her own marketing agency in 1982, which she grew to over 50 staff, and a turnover of £12.5 million, before selling to her managers in 2000.


Since then she has pursued a non–executive career, primarily in the Public and Third sectors, and currently is:

• Chair, Eden Project Ltd
• Chair, Keep Me Posted Campaign
• Chair, Royal Mail’s Strategic Mailing Partnership
• Chair, Destination Dales Tourism Group
• Trustee, Hull University Union
• Member, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
• Member, Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee North Yorkshire
• Member, Ripon Cathedral Finance Board

Previously she has been Chair of the Yorkshire Tourist Board, Chair of Bradford TEC, President of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, Vice Chair of Postwatch, a Millennium Commissioner, a Director of HSE, BIG Lottery Fund, and the British Wool Marketing Board and also a Trustee of Northern Ballet and the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.

Sir Gary Verity – CEO, Welcome to Yorkshire

Sir Gary led the winning bid to bring the Grand Départ of the Tour de France to Yorkshire in 2014 and was instrumental in the entire process from start to finish. It has since been hailed as the grandest ever Grand Départ.


Sir Gary Verity – CEO, Welcome to Yorkshire

He led the county’s public and private sectors to back the successful bid to bring the Tour – the world’s largest annual sporting event – to Yorkshire ahead of other bidders such as Florence, Barcelona, Utrecht, Berlin and Scotland.

The county’s successful hosting of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France, which generated £102 million economic benefit, has now been followed up with Yorkshire’s very own international stage race, the Tour de Yorkshire, which enjoyed significant success in its inaugural year. Sir Gary has been recognised for his contribution to the county he loves including being knighted in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to Tourism and the Tour De France Grand Départ 2014. He has also been named Yorkshire’s Man of the Year in 2014, Yorkshire and Humber IoD Director of the Year 2014 and received Yorkshire and Humber IoD’s Lifetime Achievement award. He has also been presented honorary doctorates from the University of York and Sheffield Hallam University.

Since his appointment as Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire in October 2008 he has successfully raised the profile of Yorkshire at a regional, national and international level. Welcome to Yorkshire has won various national and international awards for its marketing campaigns. A dynamic and motivational leader, Sir Gary has an excellent track record in brand building and managing complex businesses. After 18 years with Royal Insurance, he built a reputation for turning around failing businesses. At Bradford and Bingley’s retail property services arm he quickly turned around four years of losses into profit. He also rebranded Prontaprint and Kall Kwik and is the former managing director of Johnsons Cleaners UK.

Sir Gary is the Regional Chair of Yorkshire & Humberside Heritage Lottery Fund and also chaired the Olympics for Yorkshire Committee. His love of sport extends into his work; he is President of the world’s oldest cricket festival at Scarborough and also on the Board of Yorkshire County A passionate Yorkshireman, in his spare time Sir Gary is also an award-winning Dales sheep farmer and lives on a working farm near Leyburn.

Holly Lynch

Member of parliament | Halifax

Holly was born in Halifax and grew up in Northowram. She then attended Brighouse High School and studied Politics and History at Lancaster University.

She worked in a fast food outlet in Halifax town centre, before joining a small local business involved in exporting Halifax goods around the world. She then worked for Yorkshire MEP Linda McAvan as a Communications Advisor before becoming the MP for her hometown in 2015. She increased her majority twelve fold two years later.

Holly has a particular interest in policing and was recently appointed as Shadow Minister for Flooding and Coastal Communities. She led the successful campaign to make Halifax a Fairtrade town, receiving a ‘Grassroots Diplomat’ award in the process..

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