AFIRM shake of the hand on an agreed price that is not greedy has been the business foundation for John Blades, the bespoke tailor now celebrating his 50th year in business.

Well-known across the region for his tailoring skills, John is also widely known as a retired racing driver. So much so that his 70th birthday party three years ago prompted a congratulatory email from Sir Stirling Moss no less.

“My 70th birthday celebration was the best party I have ever attended and I mean to ensure my 80th is even better,”

said John, who continues to work from his home in the Ponteland area, near Newcastle.

He has trimmed the business in recent years by focusing on tailoring both in the North-East as a tailor to the gentry, and in London, where the average age of his clients is in the late 20s and most of them in the City.

“Well there are standards that need to be upheld, aren’t there, and decent quality tailoring is one of them. A good cut – be it to a jacket or a suit – makes for confidence. It’s a reflection of success and I firmly believe in this,” adds John.

“People trust in two things – their hairdressers and their tailors and, for my part, I make sure this measure of trust is lived up to.”

Although not mentioning specific gentry, he is proud of one shooting card that shows him as the only commoner among a gathering of dukes and lords. “It was a memorable day,” says John.

His six-days-a-week approach to business has given John a client base that is as solid now as it was 30 years ago, when he was trading from a number of regional showrooms.

“These have gone. I have sold my formal hire business to Suzanne Armstrong, but my brand, John Blades Bespoke Tailoring, continues to thrive and once I leave the stage it will continue through my son’s Jules B business,”

says John.

His motor racing career includes racing Lotus cars, Ginettas, Chevrons and GT 40s. His application for membership of the British Racing Drivers’ Club is being considered in what John confesses is his “last wish in my life”.

There is much support for this from fellow, former racing drivers in a high-speed band of brotherhood.

John has strong local links with the Croft circuit, near Darlington, where he presents the Derek Bell Trophy for Formula 2 and 5000 cars at the Darlington and District Motor Club autumn meet each year.

There is also an ever-present John Blades Trophy.

“I once held the outright best ever time for the Croft circuit,”

says John. “I had it for one week.”