The kid who dressed up as a Thunderbird

4 Minutes

After stumbling around scratching out a living, I had a moment of clarity while out walking

In all honesty, I never set out wanting to run my own business. I sort of fell into it. Most of my early career was spent working in the creative department of a London ad agency. It was a fun time, creating TV commercials for Ambrosia, Camay, 3M Scotch Video and Tennent’s Pilsner – the latter produced by Gerry Anderson of Thunderbirds fame. Growing up, I was the kid who dressed up as a Thunderbird, so working with Gerry was kind of weird, but in a really good way.

The best bit of advice I ever got was from my art teacher at college, who once suggested I “Go lay a prostitute or put a bet on a horse.” At the time I wondered what the hell he meant.

Years later, after being made redundant, I found myself working in Egypt and I finally understood. In the crazy city of Cairo, over 2,000 miles from home, I was out of my comfort zone and experiencing things I’d never seen before. It was an important turning point.

I flew home and turned freelance.

After stumbling around scratching out a living, I had a moment of clarity while out walking.

I really like walking. Walking is where I escape and sometimes a good idea pops into my head. On a walk in 2010, I realised I really wanted to make films. That was the moment, Catapult Films was born.

Our business brings stories to life to best promote a brand, service or company. In short, we share ideas and then we produce memorable films. Of the 250+ created since, I’ve been deep underground for Balfour Beatty and asked folk on the street: ‘What’s so good about Greggs?’ I’ve shown people how to save someone’s life from a heart attack on behalf of the NHS. I’ve searched for witches in Pendle, unearthed The Treasure in Thailand and I was in the crowd the day Le Tour came to Yorkshire.

One of the biggest highs was working in Switzerland for the International Equestrian Federation. The biggest low? Being shafted by the unscrupulous company that commissioned the same project, leaving me unpaid for all my hard work. That was a big financial hit and a tough lesson.

So, I guess you have to be careful where you put your trust.

As well as films, I’ve designed and published several books, including “I Am The Greatest!” an illustrated book of Muhammad Ali quotations.

Books are good talking points and talking is good for business. Sharing ideas, having conversations. You never know where it might lead.

I like helping others and I like to give more than is expected. As it happens, most of my work comes by way of referral.

Right now, I’m planning to create an animated film of my story, ‘The Man Who Was Different’, which is already in print and has a positive message on diversity and inclusion. I love what I do and enjoy being the master of my own destiny. But if work goes quiet, as it sometimes does when running a small business, I just go walking. And everything works out. Or, as Gerry would have said, “Thunderbirds are Go!”