An interview with Keith Madeley OBE

Made in Yorkshire

Born in the heart of Yorkshire, Keith Madeley was brought up and educated in Bradford. At just 16 years of age, he joined British Rail, and on gaining a promotion, went to work in the South East, becoming Britain’s youngest Station Master at the age of just 21.  We were fortunate enough to gain exclusive access to ‘Mr Yorkshire’ to find out more about his successful career

You became British Rail’s youngest station manager ever at 21, how did you come to work for British Rail and what did you learn from your time here?

During school I formed the Carlton Grammar School Railfans Society and arranged trips to engine sheds throughout the UK. Once I left school, I went on to join British Rail in Bradford. Soon after joining, I was promoted to London at the age of 18. When I was in London, I studied and passed the appropriate exams to become a Station Manager. I was then appointed the role at 21, this making me the youngest station manager. Throughout my career, I learnt how important it was to work with a team and luckily, my staff always supported me.

You have had extensive success in the financial services industry, how did you transition into this area and what skills do you think are required for this sector?

Once I left London and returned to Yorkshire, I spent three years in commerce and met a family friend who had founded an insurance broking company. I had attained some experience of sales when working on the railways, especially in life and accident insurance and was offered a partnership by this family friend. We went on to launch a financial services company in 1976 which we ran for 30 years. The main skills required for this sector are an understanding of financial products and their appropriate place in a client’s portfolio.

How did you come to be known as ‘Mr Yorkshire’?

In 2007, I was Chairman of a small digital marketing company and was promoting Yorkshire products. During this time, a Director of the company announced “we have bought you an ideal domain name –”  After the initial thought of “how can I use this” I was informed it was a perfect description for what I was doing and the first website was launched by them. The gentleman who initiated this, is now Managing Director of Enjoy Digital Ltd in Leeds, one of the largest privately owned digital marketing companies in the county.

Why is raising the profile of Yorkshire businesses so important to you?

I believe Yorkshire has so much potential. It’s the largest county in the UK, has 10% of the UK population and more universities than any other county. It’s essential that we spread the message around that ‘Yorkshire is open for business’.

What inspired you to get involved with the vast number of voluntary organisations you are
active in?


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