The 30 most influential people from Cheshire

Cheshire's 30 top influencers

Cheshire's 30 top influencers - Credit: Archant

Who are the people of power and influence who shape what happens in this area? Who are the VIPs who create, draw or attract wealth? We present our Top 30 Power List. Compiled by Janet Reeder and Paul Taylor

Chancellor of the Exchequer and Tatton MP George Osborne

Chancellor of the Exchequer and Tatton MP George Osborne - Credit: Archant

George Osborne

Who? Chancellor of the Exchequer, Conservative MP for Tatton

Why? He is keeper of the nation’s purse-strings, taking that job on in 2010 when the nation was still feeling the aftershocks of global financial earthquake. The Chancellor prescribed harsh medicine in the form of austerity, and five years later, the nation said ‘Can we have some more, please?’ by electing a majority Conservative government with George back at 11 Downing Street.

Born in London, son of Sir Peter Osborne of wallpaper firm Osborne & Little, George was elected MP for Tatton in 2001.



Caroline Rush

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Who? Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council

Why? Awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council, Manchester born Caroline, has been dubbed one of the ‘real first ladies’ of fashion and it is reckoned that London Fashion Week has her to thank for its current status in the fashion world.

Having dropped out of an art course Caroline went into Public Relations and formed her own Manchester-based company Crush Communications before packing it in and heading to London to devote her energies to the British Fashion Council.

Fashion writer Hilary Alexander credited Rush with changing London Fashion Week from being a ‘poor cousin’ compared with Paris, Milan and New York, ‘and showing that Britain is really where it all begins’.



Michael Oglesby CBE

Who? Chairman of the Bruntwood Group.

Why? Scunthorpe-born Michael Oglesby began his working life as an apprentice plumber but built an empire which is now one of the leading property owners in the north of England.

Since leaving day to day running of the company to his son Chris, his time is devoted to philanthropy and public service, including chairmanship of the Oglesby Charitable Trust, which gives away around £1m a year. He is also a patron of the arts through the Bruntwood Playwriting Prize.

Michael has served as High Sheriff and Vice Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester and lives in Bowdon with his wife Jean.



Dawn Ward

Who? Interior designer, property developer, charity fund-raiser, reality TV star.

Why? Dawn Ward was already the hostess with the mostest as she and ex-footballer husband Ashley welcomed Cheshire’s beautiful people to their annual Crème de la Crème charity ball at their Great Warford mansion.

Dawn’s fame was then turbo-charged by her participation in The Real Housewives of Cheshire, in which she is Queen Bee of her well-heeled and expensively-clad posse. The ITVBe show - of which there is a second series in the offing - proved to be an intoxicating collision of champagne, designer frocks, pamper sessions and titanic tiffs.


Chris Evans

Who? DJ, TV presenter.

Why? He is a local boy made good...very good indeed. Warrington-born Chris Evans is preparing to take on one of the toughest challenges in TV as the lynchpin of a Jeremy Clarkson-free Top Gear. If anyone can pull it off, it is Chris, who has had a string of successes from his ‘zoo’-format Radio 1 show, through Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast and TFI Friday to a Radio 2 incumbency during which he has successfully filled the vacant shoes of another broadcasting legend, Terry Wogan.


Chris Evans. Photo courtesy of the BBC.

Chris Evans. Photo courtesy of the BBC. - Credit: Archant


Charlie Cornish

Who? Chief executive of Manchester Airports Group

Why? Manchester Airport has been a great investment for the councils of Greater Manchester, which are shareholders, and it has been crucial to the post-industrial success of Manchester and the surrounding region. That will be just as true in the future as the Northern Powerhouse aims to spread and consolidate that success. Charlie Cornish, who lives in Prestbury, has, since 2010, been in the hot seat of MAG, which is the UK’s largest British-owned airport operator, responsible not just for Manchester but also Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports.



Lawrence Jones MBE

Who? CEO of UKFast, Manchester-based tech company supplying server hosting and cloud hosting.

Why? One of the great British successes of the digital age, Lawrence Jones became fascinated by the possibilities of the internet when on a career break in New York and launched UKFast in 1999. Turnover in the year to December 2014 was up 24 per cent to £28.9m.

At UKFast Campus on the edge of Manchester Science Park, Lawrence, who lives in Hale Barns, has spent millions creating an office that includes a gym, sauna, crèche, indoor Japanese-style garden and 200-seat auditorium avialable to businesses and community groups. He is also a generous supporter of local charities.



John Timpson CBE

Who? Chairman of Timpson

Why? There is no doubt about John Timpson’s business acumen, and his heart’s in the right place too. He sold off the family’s shoe shops in 1987, but retained the shoe repair business and expanded this into a ubiquitous high street and in-supermarket brand, with locksmith services and much more.

But John is also a philanthropist, supporting the AfterAdoption charity (he and wife Alex fostered around 90 children over 30 years at their Tarporley home) and providing training and job opportunities for ex-offenders. He gives straight-talking advice to other business people in a Daily Telegraph column.



The Arora brothers

Who? Simon, Bobby and Robin Arora are the three brothers behind the cut-price chain B&M Retail.

Why? The siblings from Sale have proved beyond doubt that Britain loves a bargain, and in so doing have altered the nation’s retail landscape. B&M has over 400 stores employing 19,000 people, and ambitions to double the number of stores in coming years. In May, the group reported net profits of almost £40m after a near-30 per cent jump in sales.

B&M began life as a single store in Blackpool in 1978, and the company was bought by Simon and Bobby in 2004, expanding furiously during the worst recession in living memory.



Gary Barlow OBE

Who? One third of the gradually-diminishing man band Take That, songwriter responsible for 14 number one singles, recipient of OBE for services to music and charity.

Why? In his 25 years in the public eye, Frodsham’s own Gary has barely put a foot wrong. He has notched up the hits, played to sell-out stadiums, raised millions for charity, organised a Diamond Jubilee gig for the Queen and done a stint as an X Factor judge, all while deploying a self-deprecating northern charm. Controversy about his investment in a tax avoidance scheme is destined to be a mere bump in the road.




Inspiring Women 2013 Business WINNER, Prof. Dame Nancy Rothwell

Inspiring Women 2013 Business WINNER, Prof. Dame Nancy Rothwell - Credit: Archant

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell

Who? Vice Chancellor of Manchester University

Why? Vice Chancellor of Manchester University and named by Women’s Hour one of the UK’s most powerful women, the British Physiologist is the first ever female Vice Chancellor of Manchester University.

In addition to her academic career she has been involved in running and advising various research and funding bodies She is on the board at pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, president of the Society of Biology and a member of the prime minister’s Council for Science and Technology.

Simon Rogan

Who? Chef with finger in many pies.

Why? Having made a name for himself at the two Michelin-starred L’Enclume in Cartmel (named best restaurant in the UK in the current Good Food Guide), Simon transformed the famed French restaurant at Manchester’s Midland Hotel, then created the popular Mr Cooper’s House and Garden as the hotel’s more informal dining option.

He then took his brand of seasonal British cuisine to Fera at Claridges, London. Not content with being one of the most highly-regarded chefs of his age, Simon also became a reality TV star when BBC’s Restaurant Wars showed us behind the scenes at the French.



Simon Radley

Who? Executive chef at The Chester Grosvenor.

Why? So important is Simon’s talent to the fine dining offer at the Grosvenor that the restaurant goes by his name: Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor. He joined the hotel in 1986 and has been in charge of the kitchen for over 20 years. While elsewhere in the north west, there were grumbles about the lack of really top class cuisine, the Grosvenor quietly continued to deliver, winning a Michelin star for 25 years in succession - an achievement matched by only three other restaurants in England.



Prof Anthony Howell

Who? Professor of Medical Oncology, University of Manchester.

Why? As the home of The Christie, Manchester is a centre of excellence in cancer treatment and research, and Prof Howell has been in the thick of that work for 35 years. He has published over 600 scientific papers and made his specialty the prediction and prevention of breast cancer. He is scientific director of the Wythenshawe Hospital-based Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention, the only UK charity entirely devoted to the prediction and prevention of breast cancer.



Nick Robinson

Who? BBC political editor

Why? He is the man who helps the nation make sense of the machinations of Westminster. Nick Robinson became the BBC’s political editor in 2005, having done the same job at ITN for the previous three years. He is an enthusiastic son of Cheshire, a founder member of Macclesfield Young Conservatives and one-time chairman of Cheshire Young Conservatives, though Nick is now, of course, utterly impartial, dishing out incisive criticism to politicians of every stripe.

Nick’s Election Notebook, just published, is a memoir of turbulent political times and also his recovery from lung cancer.



Martin Lewis

Who? Consumer champion, founder of

Why? Watching the pennies has earned many millions of pounds for Martin Lewis, who was born in Manchester, grew up in Norley on the edge of the Delamere Forest, and attended King’s School, Chester. He launched at a cost of just £100 in 2003, and sold it to in 2012 in an £87m deal. (, based in Ewloe, is incidentally, another Cheshire success story, founded by Simon Nixon, from Chester).

Money expert Martin Lewis

Money expert Martin Lewis - Credit: Archant

As well as being a model of thrift (a millionaire who buys Poundland crisps) Martin has given energy to a wave of confident consumerism.



Paul Hollywood

Who? Star of Great British Bake Off

Why? He has helped kick-start a national revival in home baking. Judging cakes used to be the preserve of garden fetes and the Women’s Institute. In his unlikely double act with Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood has turned it into prime time entertainment. It’s even spawned theatre shows in which Paul cooks and chats for a paying audience.

We’re particularly proud of the rise and rise of the baker from Wallasey because eons ago, as an adventurous 22-year-old baker at The Chester Grosvenor, Paul was featured in the pages of Cheshire Life as one to watch.


Daniel Craig

Who? Latest, and some say the best, James Bond

Why? Because he’s James Bond! Not a funny James Bond like Roger Moore, or a suave James Bond like Piers Brosnan, but a sexy, earthy, properly handy-with-his-fists Bond like Sean Connery. With three 007 movies to his credit, and another, Spectre, due out later this year, Craig has thoroughly revived the franchise.

Born in Chester, Daniel’s acting debut was in a Frodsham Primary School production of Oliver! His dad ran the Ring O’ Bells in Frodsham, but, after his parents split, he lived with his mum in Liverpool and Hoylake.

Daniel now lives in London’s Primrose Hill and is married to actress Rachel Weisz.


Paul Abbott

Who? BAFTA award-winning screenwriter and producer

Why? Brought up by his sister on a housing estate after first their mother and two years later (when Paul was 11) their father walked out on them and their eight siblings, Abbott plundered his background to write Shameless. He set the bar for TV drama with shows such as Cracker, State of Play and Clocking Off.

This year Abbott has yet another hit on his hands the C4 TV show No Offence, a darkly humorous cop show based in his home city of Manchester. It has been critically acclaimed for its boldness and shows a writer at the height of his powers.



Maria Balshaw

Who? Academic British Arts Council board member and Director of the Whitworth Art Gallery

Why? One of the most powerful figures in the UK arts,Maria Balshaw was appointed to the board of the British Arts Council last year and as Director of the Whitworth Art Gallery has overseen its recent £15m redesign. The Gallery which holds important collections of fine and decorative art is now a third bigger and includes an art garden and cafe.

Alongside her role as Director of Manchester City Galleries and the Whitworth Art Gallery Maria has also taken on the role of Strategic Lead for Culture for Manchester City Council.



Tom Bloxham

Who? Urban Splash Property Developer

Why? He started running a market stall at Affleck’s Arcade and co-founded Urban Splash with architect Jonathan Falkingham converting redundant properties, mainly formerly industrial buildings, in north west England into city centre residential loft apartments. They have won in excess of 100 awards for design, architecture and urban renewal. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and in 1999, he was given an MBE, he chairs the Manchester International Festival and is a trustee of The Tate, Manchester United Foundation.


Dame Jenni Murray Woman's Hour, BBC - Photographer: Emilie Sandy, courtesy of BBC

Dame Jenni Murray Woman's Hour, BBC - Photographer: Emilie Sandy, courtesy of BBC - Credit: BBC

Dame Jenni Murray

Who? Presenter of BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour.

Why? She is a writer and an indomitable radio presenter with a career stretching back over 40 years. Her involvement in Woman’s Hour dates back to 1987. Jenni was awarded an OBE in 1999 and a damehood in 2011. Born in Barnsley and dividing her time between London and Cheshire, Jenni has long been a recognisable and respected voice of the north, a fact no doubt reflected in the honorary degree awarded to her by the University of Salford.



Howard Bernstein

Who? Manchester council’s chief executive and power broker

Why? Bernstein’s rise from junior clerk to town hall boss has become legendary. He is credited with the city’s rebirth following the 1996 IRA bomb, brokering Manchester City FC’s investment in east Manchester, championing the Metrolink and bringing the 2002 Commonwealth Games to the city which was rewarded with a knighthood. Now he is spearheading the city’s devolution and renaissance as the Northern Powerhouse. Watch this space.



Lord Norman Foster

Who is he? The foremost architect in the world was born in Reddish in 1935 and raised in Levenshulme and after graduating from Manchester School of Art and Architecture won a scholarship to Yale to study Architecture.

Why? As founder and chairman of Foster & Partners one of the most innovative architecture and integrated design practices in the world. This is the man who designed the Gherkin in London, possibly the most iconic modern building in the capital. He also designed part of Hardman Square in Manchester. He has a long list of medals and awards and was granted a knighthood by the Queen in 1990 and honoured with a Life Peerage in 1999 taking the title Lord Foster of Thames Bank.



John Whittaker

Who? Chairman of The Peel Group, a property investment that mainly invests in North West England.

Why? In the 1980s Whittaker fought a battle to take over the Manchester Ship Canal Company and the result was The Trafford Centre which he sold to Capital Shopping centres in January 2011 netting Peel shares worth £636m. He joined its board as deputy chairman and attributes the 30m visitor numbers in part to the flamboyant baroque decoration, including one of the world’s biggest chandeliers. “It is the people’s palace...the Dallas effect” he says. The Group is also behind the BBC’s NW HQ, MediaCityUK.

One hugely ambitious project currently underway is the pioneering Ocean Gateway, a £50 billion housing and retail redevelopment on the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey. Whittaker hopes the Manchester development will become a Chinese business hub.



Wayne Rooney

Who? Manchester United Football player

Why? Croxteth-born Rooney made his senior international debut in February 2003 aged 17, becoming the youngest player to represent England (a record since broken by Theo Walcott). He is England’s youngest ever goalscorer. He played at UEFA Euro 2004 and scored four goals, briefly becoming the youngest goalscorer in the history of the European Championship. He is one of only four players to have scored 200 goals for Manchester United, which places him in an elite club alongside fellow Reds legends Sir Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and Jack Rowley. All that and he’s one of the highest paid footballers in the world.



Ian Simpson

Who? Manchester based architect and founder of SimpsonHaugh and Partners LLP formerly Ian Simpson Architects

Why? Heywood-born Simpson has arguably changed the look of modern Manchester more than anyone else in recent history.

He played a significant role in the reconstruction of the city following the IRA bombing in 1996 and its subsequent transformation from dirty old town into the smart urban metropolis it is today. Gaze across the 2015 skyline and you’ll see the many notable new buildings that have emerged from his Manchester-based architectural practice including Beetham Tower, home of the Hilton hotel, No1 Deansgate and Urbis (now the National Museum of Football).

Harry Styles, Photographed by Tom Dymond/REX Shutterstock

Harry Styles, Photographed by Tom Dymond/REX Shutterstock - Credit: Tom Dymond/REX Shutterstock

Now newly re-branded SimpsonHaugh and Partners LLP in recognition of the contribution made by co founder Rachel Haugh, the practice goes from strength to strength with a raft of projects ongoing for 2015.




Harry Styles

Who? One quarter of One Direction, boy band huge on both sides of the Atlantic and with 24m followers on Twitter.

Why? Aged 21, the lad from Holmes Chapel is not just fabulously wealthy, with a voice and floppy hair which reduces the female population of the entire world to helpless adoration, he is also tabloid gold, his episodic love life having included a fling with an older woman, Caroline Flack, a dalliance with pop-country princess Taylor Swift and a short attachment to Kendall Jenner of the many-headed fame monster which is the Kardashian family.



The Duke of Westminster

Who? The 6th Duke is Gerald Grosvenor and godfather to Prince George of Cambridge. His seat is at Eaton Hall, Cheshire

Why? According to the ‘Sunday Times Rich List 2014’, the Duke of Westminster is worth £8.56 billion in assets, making him the ninth richest British-born person and the richest person in the north west.

He was educated at Harrow School and RMA Sandhurst. In 2005, he was elected Chancellor of the University of Chester.

Via Grosvenor Estates, the Duke is the richest property developer in the United Kingdom and one of the country’s largest landowners, with vast estates in Oxford, Cheshire and Scotland, as well as large areas of Mayfair and Belgravia in central London, and also in Europe.


Dawn Gibbins

Who? The British entrepreneur behind the Flowcrete industrial flooring company, turned ‘philanthropeneur’.

Why? She oversaw the international and domestic growth of the company she founded with her late father in 1982 before selling it in 2008. Dawn subsequently launched Congleton-based Barefoot Living and Barefoot Feng Shui . She has been awarded an MBE, an honorary doctorate by Manchester University and in 2004 was made a Pioneer to the Life of Our Nation.