At the end of 2019, The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity was delighted to announce the appointment of three new trustees to the charity’s board in Greg Hollingsworth, Sue Cleminson and Mark Shelton.
Moving forward, the trio will work alongside our 15 other trustees; forming part of interview panels with applicants and visiting borrowers and their businesses to see how things are progressing.
In a three-part series, we find out a little more about our newest trustees, concluding with director of Shelton Vision, Mark Shelton…
“Originally, I studied textile technology and then, to a certain level, electronics. I went into the family business around 40 years ago. At that time, we produced ancillary equipment for large knitting machine factories based in Leicester. We then developed a range of fabric-handling and traditional textile machinery. In 1990, we got involved with two government-funded research projects to bring machine vision into the textile industry in the UK. My background, essentially, is running a small business in traditional machinery to what is essentially a software company these days. When I saw that there was no future in making traditional textile machines for where we were located in the world, we sold part of our business in 1989 to one of our competitors that we also worked with. We invested the proceeds from that sale into the development of high-tech engineering.
“I’d heard about the charity before becoming a trustee. One of my sons became a beneficiary of one of the charity’s loans and was very successful with it. I was quite intrigued by the charity. It seemed a bit too good to be true when I first heard about it. I became a guarantor for my son, but more recently a friend of mine – Martin Hageman – asked if I would be interested in becoming a trustee. I said yes straightaway.
“I think the experience I’ll bring from running a small business will hopefully be helpful to applicants and borrowers. I know what it can feel like being a cork bobbing around in a big ocean. One of the first things about small business is survival. It doesn’t matter about sales or cash flow, survival is key, as is asking questions such as ‘Have I got the right people?’ ‘Have I got the right policies in place?’
“I’m really looking forward to the chance to look at new businesses. I’ve got five sons and whenever anybody asks me if any of them will be coming into my business, I say what I said to them years ago, that if the business is still around when they’re working and if they’re still interested and can contribute, and if the business is of the size that it needs them, then we can discuss it. However, I’ve always felt that the best thing for our family was to not all rely on one source of income and for them to do things that they like doing and to provide assistance with that where possible. If you can find people that enjoy the things that they’re doing and having a go, they’re probably the ones that are likely to succeed.”