50 Most Influential Northerners

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Peel Group founder John Whittaker is the most influential northerner, according to The Big Issue in the North’s first 50 Most Influential Northerners list, published in the magazine on Monday 25 October.

Ranging from property magnates and musicians to sports heroes and politicians, the individuals on the list – picked by a shrewd panel of northern judges – vary greatly in every way.

Editor Kevin Gopal said: “It was a very difficult task looking at which individuals have greatest bearing on our lives in the north. So we chose to look at influence, which is a broad term covering economic clout, political power, cultural impact and more, including who we talk about round the water cooler.”

The judging panel was made up of four very different northerners: Mohammed Ali OBE, founder and chief executive of QED-UK, a high profile minority ethnic community economic development agency; popular BBC Radio Manchester broadcaster Allan Beswick; Fay Selvan, chief executive of the Big Life group of social businesses and charities working across the north; and Michael Taylor, editor of North West Business Insider and editorial director of Insider Media.

To be in the running for the top 50, individuals did not actually have to be from the north, but needed a base in the north. Hence Liverpudlian Sir Terry Leahy’s exclusion, as Tesco’s headquarters are in the south, and the inclusion of Chancellor George Osborne due to his Tatton, Cheshire constituency.

Kevin added: “The results make fascinating reading and say a lot about life in our region. But they throw up as many questions as answers. How come there are so few women and people from ethnic minorities? And what about all those unsung community champions who can affect people’s lives locally as much as any chief executive?

“We hope our readers will let us know who they think are the most influential people. We’ll publish those results as well.”

As well as writing to us at letters@bigissuenorth.co.uk readers can nominate their own most influential people via northerners@bigissuenorth.co.uk.

The 50 Most Influential Northerners

1.     John Whittaker, Peel Group

2.     Peter Marks, Chief Executive, Co-operative Group

3.     William Hague, Foreign Secretary

4.     Ken McMeikan, Chief Executive, Greggs

5.     Paul Walker, former Chief Executive, Sage Group

6.     Ross Warburton, Director, Warburtons

7.     Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Minister without Portfolio

8.     Sir Ian Wrigglesworth, Deputy Chair, Regional Growth Fund and Chairman, Port of Tyne

9.     Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate

10.  Frank Field, Birkenhead MP

11.  Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister

12.  Duke of Westminster, Grosvenor Group

13.  Trevor Mann, Senior vice-president, Nissan Group

14.  Gary Hoffman, Northern Rock

15.  Sir Richard Leese, Leader Manchester City Council

16.  Sir John Zochonis, Philanthropist

17.  Simon Moran, SJM Concerts

18.  Tom Bloxham, Founder Urban Splash

19.  Peter Stephenson, Chairman, Able UK

20.  Phil Redmond, TV producer

21.  Amir Khan, Boxer

22.  Martin Ainscough, Property Developer

23.  Baroness Margaret Eaton, Chair, Local Government Association

24.  Rio Ferdinand, Footballer

25.  Jessica Ennis, Athlete

26.  George Osborne, Chancellor and Tatton MP

27.  Peter Kay, Comedian

28.  John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

29.  Edwin Booth, Chairman, EH Booth & Co

30.  Fred Done, Bookmaker

31.  Sir Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive Manchester City Council

32.  Sir Alex Ferguson, Manager Manchester United

33.  Alistair Balls, Chair, Centre for Life

34.  Mumtaz Khan, Founder, Mumtaz Food Industries

35.  James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool

36.  Dorothy Thompson, Chief Executive, Drax Group

37.  John Timpson, Chief Executive, Timpson

38.  Linda Pollard, Deputy Chair, Yorkshire Forward

39.  Brian Cox, Scientist

40.  David Colin-Thorne, National Clinical Director for Primary Care

41.  Gee Walker, Anti-racism campaigner

42.  Brendan Foster, Founder Great North Run

43.  Jimmy McGovern, TV Writer/Producer

44.  Alan Bennett, Writer

45.  Janet Hemmingway, Director, School of Tropical Medicine

46.  Ed Miliband, Leader of the Opposition

47.  Andrew Stunnell, Communities Minister

48.  Sir Mark Elder, Music Director, the Halle

49.  Nigel Howarth, Chef

50.  Guy Garvey, Singer

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