Remembering the Yorkshire legend that is Eddie Healey and why critics of Botham's envoy role need to get a grip - Mark Casci

Yorkshire lost a legend this weekend. Normally when the passing of somebody from our glorious county makes international news it is from the arenas of sports and entertainment.

Eddie Healey, who died this weekend.

But Edwin ‘Eddie’ Healey’s death at the age of 83 saw news outlets around the world pay tribute to his life and career.

It was his vision that led to the creation of Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre.

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At a time when South Yorkshire’s traditional industries were in retreat, Mr Healey – alongside fellow Yorkshire business luminary Paul Sykes – had the foresight to see the potential for the out-of-town development which continues to bring millions of pounds into the region’s economy every year.

Meadowhall is a big success for Yorkshire.

The land that Meadowhall would come to occupy was derelict and showed little signs of potential when Mr Healey set his sights on it.

But when it first opened its doors in 1990, Meadowhall was the largest shopping centre in the country. By the time it was sold nearly a decade later to British Land it was valued at £1.17bn.

As has been widely reported, the sale netted Mr Healey £420m, not bad for a lad whose family ran a painting and decorating supply business in north east Hull.

It was from these humble beginnings that Mr Healey forged his business acumen.

Meadowhall

Alongside his brother Malcolm – whose own success story needs no introduction – Mr Healey worked with their father, Stanley, in the family business.

Before long it had grown from its corner shop beginnings to opening discount stores which became a big success.

They would eventually be sold to MFI, at which point Mr Healey began to branch out into property, culminating in the Meadowhall deal.

While this development will always be best known in England, it was arguably his development of Centro in Germany, that represented the high-water mark of his career.

Ian Botham

And while his work took him around Europe, he remained true to his Yorkshire roots. He lived until his death close to his home town of Hull.

He was often uncharitably referred to as “reclusive”, he chose, like his brother, to shun the limelight, never giving interviews and letting his work to do the talking.

In many ways it was a modus operandi that was typically Yorkshire, favouring achievement over bluster.

In the most recent Sunday Times Rich List rankings, he and his brother were said to have seen their wealth rise by £200m, valued collectively at £2.2bn.

Looking at his life’s work, he leaves an impressive legacy and serves a great example to future generations of entrepreneurs as to what hard work, foresight and good decision-making can result in.

Trade row is just not cricket

I noted a great deal of consternation at the appointment of England cricket legend Ian Botham as a trade envoy to Australia.

Lord Botham, as he is known these days following his elevation to the House of Lords last year, is one of 10 new envoys announced by the Government. In a clichéd announcement from the press team, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said Lord Botham would “bat for British business Down Under”.

Some have questioned the move, asking how a sporting legend turned broadcaster was cut out for striking major trade deals with a prosperous nation in the Southern Hemisphere.

Overlooking the fact that Botham is very well known in Australia, it was further seen as promotions for prominent Brexiteers, with former Labour MP and now non-affiliated peer, Baroness Hoey, also handed an envoy role.

Anyone thinking Beefy will be hammering out major deals needs to get a grip.

Trade envoys are unpaid and largely are tasked with attending meetings to make their hosts feel at ease.

Given that most of the roles are handed to unknown backbench MPs, I would imagine Botham will have far more success at charming foreign delegates than they ever would.