IN the check-out queue at the doomed Marks and Spencer store in Darlington, I couldn’t help overhear two elderly women complaining about the younger generation: “All they do is play on their phones and computer games – they never get off their backsides these days,” said one. “I know,” agreed the other.

It’s a common generalisation, so I want to tell you about 22-year-old Sam Binns, who left college with an ungraded in A-level business studies but is going flat out as a young entrepreneur.

Sam, 22, a former Hurworth School pupil, has a split personality. Mostly, he goes under the name of The Ironing Man, but he’s also The Frizzante Man at weekends.

It all started when he bought the rights to The Ironing Man business when he was 19. It’s a straight-forward enterprise – he’ll pick up your ironing and deliver it back, fresh and crisp, within 24 hours. In three years, he’s taken the business from 50kg of ironing a week to 500kg and he’s about to expand.

Up to now, he’s concentrated on covering Darlington and North Yorkshire but he’s buying a new van so he can grow into Teesside. He’s also in the process of establishing a laundry, with two industrial-sized washing machines and three dryers.

He has “a fantastic team” working for him, including four ironers. He’s looking to recruit a driver, and his latest employee is his proud Mum, Carmel.

What role will she fulfill? “Everything really,” he answers. “She’s an amazing Mum.”

So far, Sam has concentrated mainly on domestic customers but he’s branching out into commercial clients, including hotels and restaurants, and he’s just won a contract to wash the kits for Darlington Football Club. Linen hire is the next revenue stream.

“I’ve always been entrepreneurial, right from selling tickets for student nights at college,” says Sam. “It’s not always easy to feel motivated but when you start seeing the business grow, that comes as a real boost.”

Sam’s had to learn to keep his counsel because he’s a guilty secret to a number of customers who’d rather their partners didn’t know that it’s him who does all the ironing.

While The Ironing Man goes from strength to strength, Sam is also making a corking job of being The Frizzante Man. Having spotted the growth in the fizz market, Sam had a “Prosecco Trike” made in Derby and he tapped into the market by selling Prosecco on tap at festivals and shows.

“I’d worked in bars and enjoyed it, so I just thought The Frizzante Man was a natural extension,” he says.

This is clearly a young man who makes things happen, so take heed of his next ambition – to become an MP.

Indeed, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone more hard-working than The Ironing Man...and he’s still only 22.

A QUITE different success story is unfolding in the form of the magnificent Ushaw College, no longer a seminary, but a growing tourism attraction and events venue in County Durham.

How on earth have I missed visiting such a magnificent place until now?

Last week, it was a pleasure to attend the launch of a flower festival, one of many events marking the 450th anniversary of Ushaw’s foundation college.

And what a nice surprise to catch up with Canon Bob Spence, now into his 80s, but as engaging as ever, if not quite so steady on his feet. “Fine – well, the top half anyway,” he replied when asked how he was doing.

A student at Ushaw, then a teacher, and now living there in contented retirement, Bob is happy to admit: “I’ve been lucky to spend a lot of my life here.”

Bob knows better than most how special Ushaw is but to many it’s an undiscovered gem, with a fascinating history as well as spectacular galleries and chapels.

The flower festival ended yesterday but there are many more reasons to visit.

BACK to enterprising young people and a bit of unsolicited credit where it’s due for a local company.

It’s been a joy over the past couple of months to be working with children from Longfield Academy on the production of the Darlington school’s first newspaper.

Proudly called The Longfield Lion, the press team at the school have done a fantastic job and had great experience along the way, including a visit to The Northern Echo.

The final piece in the jigsaw was to persuade a local company to buy a front page advert and an appointment was fixed with local car dealer SG Petch in the hope of driving a hard bargain.

Young negotiators, Lucy Clennell, Aimee Wood and Aimee Martin, below, were hoping to negotiate a price of £30 but the tactic was to start at £50 to allow room for manoeuvre.

Sales director Sam Petch and her team couldn’t not have done more to calm the pupils’ nerves and agreed to pay the opening price of £50. When they were told that all the advertising revenue would be going to mental health charity MIND, they doubled it.

Having promised £20 for the Page 2 advert, I’ve now been shamed into doubling my investment too.

FINALLY, as someone who could never be persuaded to eat their greens as a child, I loved a story that came out of Nova Scotia last week.

It was about a 12-year-old boy who got a telling-off for using the police emergency number to complain about his mother giving him salad for tea.

Thanks to Gavin Aitchison, in York, for submitting the headline “Rebel without a cos.”

Such imagination makes me green with envy.