A NORTH-EAST entrepreneur said he was “thrilled’ with the reaction that he has received following his free Masterclass sessions that he delivered to local students this week.

Whitburn-born Paul Mackings marked his 40 year anniversary celebrations by returning to where it had all started for him in September 1979 – South Tyneside College.

Back then he enrolled for night time classes and seized on the opportunity to attend day release sessions.

Mr Mackings, the current CEO at Cameron Hall Developments, Wynyard Hall in Billingham, said “It was a real thrill to meet everybody at South Tyneside College this week.

“I simply wanted to take time out and in return help give something back – and hopefully inspire the next generation to give of their best to help achieve their goals at the completion of their studies there.

“With hard work and determination anything is possible. My route has been very much against the odds – but add some personal belief into it all and dreams really are possible.

“I emphasised the need to make the most of the many opportunities that are available to the students in the college today.

“It frustrates me when I hear people talking negatively and putting up barriers about personal goals in life today – this is a very exciting period – and so many possibilities are awaiting those that are prepared to put the work in. My classes had around 100 students attending each of the two sessions and I was able to display how the journey started via various visuals on screen – it was a road that started out with little personal finance – but loads of determination to want to do my very best in life.

“I could totally identify with the youngsters as forty years ago it was Paul Mackings in their seats, starting on my own personal journey in life. I also wanted to reassure them that despite the sometimes difficult journey called life, any personal target is possible,” said the former Newcastle Falcons CEO.

“I have put aside a sizeable chunk of my diary and I have identified parts of the community that I think can benefit from my personal business knowledge and experience - learning the hard way in some cases. So as I celebrate my 40 year anniversary, I aim to host similar sessions in other parts of the region too. I have been heavily involved in raising money for any charities that I am linked to and I wanted to do something that would hopefully help the next generation with a personal link and offering my views on a route to a successful career, drawing on my 40 years of experience.”

The entrepreneur’s huge portfolio includes the multi-million pound rebuild of Spanish City at Whitley Bay, the award-winning Crab Manor Hotel in Asenby, North Yorkshire and the National award winning ‘Trenchers’ fish & chip restaurants in Whitby and Whitley Bay – to name just a few.

The events were hosted by BBC Tees radio presenter Paul ‘Goffy’ Gough and included the opportunity to put questions to the highly-respected businessman.

Two of the most popular sections included advice on how to handle a successful job interview, and Paul’s personal top tips for making the most of opportunities and hitting personal goals in life. He was keen to highlight some personal falls in his forty years in business and detailing how he quickly got back on track after learning from a setback or disappointment

“I just hope that my visit has inspired them and I have invited some groups to shadow me at work with the help of their teachers in 2020, to give them a clearer insight to my work,” said Paul.

Alison Maynard, deputy chief executive of Tyne Coast College (which operates South Tyneside College) said, “Paul was enthusiastic and inspiring and gave our students many important pointers on how to progress their lives and careers. He has enjoyed great business success but throughout his many highs, he has never lost sight of his background and his roots in South Tyneside.”

“It was clear from the two talks he gave what he has achieved through hard work, talent and dedication to personal and professional development and that he retains an obvious love for what he does. Paul came across as approachable, friendly and helpful – he was generous with his time and proved himself a fantastic role model for each and every learner who participated.”

“South Tyneside College strives to inspire students, and it a gratifying to know that Paul, a former student here, credits the college with setting him on the road to success. We are grateful to him for taking the time to return and pass on his wisdom, warmth and experience to our current generation of students.”