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For the great entrepreneurs

On which this county was founded

Whose speaking was blunt

And whose feet were grounded

For Michael Marks

And his Leeds Penny Bazaar

For Bill and Ben Jowett

And their Javelin car

For J Arthur Rank

And his Hull flour mills

For Montagu Burton

Making suits in our hills

For Joseph Rowntree

His Kit Kat and Rolo

For Sir Ken Morrison

The corporate governance solo

For Joshua Tetley

And Samuel Smith

And hundreds of others

Who’ve helped build the myth…

For the head of them all

Tall, dapper and handsome

Stands the Lord of Egerton

James Edward Hanson

From Hepburns foundation stone

Gordon White built

A corporate swashbuckler

With an Erroll Flynn hilt……

(He’d sack you one day

Then forget the jilt

No word of apology

Or sign of guilt)

From Wiles Group of Hull

The fertiliser was created

That nurtured an empire

Which world dominated

A company over there

That did as well as over here

With its London Bricks

And its Courage beer

No 10 in the UK

No 50 in the States

It strode the Atlantic

Buying all in its wake

For the next lame ship

He was for Ever Ready

Target at 10 miles

His periscope ready

For the board on the bridge

Trying to stay afloat

There was nothing more frightening

Than Hanson’s u-Boat

He remains a giant of a man

In every way

Six feet four

Up at five each day

But what of his legacy

Now divided by five?

For shareholder value

They certainly have thrived

By four or five times

Is what I have heard

Even VCs

Might think that absurd

James Hanson IS

The original tycoon

An eye for a bargain

Hand like a harpoon

But above and beyond

He has glamour and colour

A filmstar life

Spent on magazine covers

For it seems to me

Its easy to be grey

But James still clearly enjoys

Each and every day

Like the Van Goghs

Which adorn his walls

He is rightly revered

As the Old Master of All!


Jonathan Hick is chief executive of Directorbank Executive Search

The poem was written by Jonathan Hick as a lighthearted grace to be delivered in Lord Hanson’s honour at a lunch for two hundred Yorkshire business leaders he was due to address in Leeds on October 19, marking the two-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the Yorkshire Post. Alas he fell badly the previous day and the event was postponed. He died on November 1.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.

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