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NewcastleGateshead Initiative names new chair

26th September 2013

Categories: Convention Bureau News

Paul Callaghan CBE has been named as the new chair of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, the public private partnership that delivers economic growth for NewcastleGateshead through its work to attract visitors, major conferences and events and investment to the area.

A respected economist, and author or editor of numerous books and articles on business, economics and IT, Paul is also a successful businessman and entrepreneur. Having founded the Leighton Group in 1979, Paul is now chairman of the North East based technology, software, media and communications group which currently comprises five separate companies, employs over 150 people and has offices in the region, as well as London, Washington DC and Singapore.

With significant public sector and public private partnership experience (see notes to editors for full biography), Paul most notably helped found the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, led the formation of Business Link North East, chaired regional development agency One North East (2010 - 2012), and was asked to be the chair of chairs, of all of England’s Regional Development Agencies, which involved close liaison with ministers and senior civil servants.

Paul was selected as chair by NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s board, which is made up of 19 private sector representatives (see notes to editors), Gateshead Council and Newcastle City Council.

Speaking about his appointment, Paul said: “I believe passionately in this region and want to see it grow and prosper. I think that this is only possible by encouraging a vibrant and imaginative cultural environment, nurturing and supporting entrepreneurs, developing indigenous businesses, attracting inward investment and extending education to create a talented and well-educated population.

“NewcastleGateshead is the region’s capital and its most important conurbation. If the North East is to be successful, then NewcastleGateshead must be successful and NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s role is fundamental in helping to shape and drive that success.”

Paul will take over from Jamie Martin, managing partner of law firm Ward Hadaway - supporters of NewcastleGateshead Initiative since its creation. 

Jamie, who has led the NewcastleGateshead Initiative Board for six years, said: “I am delighted to have a played a role in NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s work to promote and change perceptions of the area – work which has supported the growth of the visitor economy and tourism sector, attracted major conferences and events, staged transformational cultural festivals and made a significant contribution to the local economy and business confidence in the area.

“The fact that we have attracted a new chair of Paul’s calibre, only reinforces the strength of the organisation and the ongoing importance of its work. I wish him, the Board and the wider organisation every success going forward.”

NewcastleGateshead Initiative, which is funded by Gateshead Council, Newcastle City Council and 170 private sector partners from across the region, was founded 12 years ago. Its mission is to inspire people to visit and to live, learn, work and invest in NewcastleGateshead. The organisation has been instrumental in supporting the growth of the visitor economy, which is currently worth £1.3bn and supports 18,799 jobs in the local area.

An inward investment team is the most recent addition to the organisation, having been tasked by both councils with work to attract new business, investment and jobs to NewcastleGateshead. Eight new investments have been secured in just 12 months, with 152 jobs created, and there are now 59 active projects in the pipeline.

Mick Henry, leader of Gateshead Council, said: “We’re delighted that Paul will be joining the board as chair. He brings with him a wealth of experience and I’m sure he’ll play an important role in helping to further cement NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s reputation as a significant economic driver for the area; as one of the most successful and respected destination management and marketing agencies in the UK; and as a fantastic example of public-private partnership working in action.

“I’d also like to thank Jamie for his hard work and success as chair; he’s done an impressive job in leading the board and supporting the team at NewcastleGateshead Initiative and we have greatly valued his contribution over the past six years.”

Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, added: “Creating and sustaining good jobs is at the heart of our strategy for the future. Paul’s business background makes him the perfect person to carry on and develop the great work that the NewcastleGateshead Initiative team do on behalf of Gateshead and Newcastle.”

Jamie Martin will officially hand over to Paul Callaghan at NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s AGM on 5 December.


For media enquiries contact:

Kathie Wilcox
Head of Communications & Corporate Affairs
T. +44 (0)191 440 5742
M. +44 (0)7766 993925

Shelley Armstrong
Media & PR Manager
T. +44 (0)191 440 5739
M. +44 (0)7717 631 109

Notes to editors:

Paul Callaghan biography

Academic background:
• Paul is an economist with a first degree in Economics from the London School of Economics, a Masters degree in Management and Education from Newcastle University and a further Masters degree in Finance and Economics from the University of Salford.
• He is the author or editor of 16 books and numerous articles on business, economics and IT.

Business background:
Chairman of the Leighton Group (
North East based technology, software, media and communications group founded by Paul in 1979; currently employs over 150 people with offices in London, Washington DC and Singapore (head office and all technical operations remain in the region).

The Group is currently made up of five separate companies:
• Leighton (, which is one of the UK’s leading digital agencies with an international portfolio of clients.
• The WorkCast Corporation (, Europe's largest provider of cloud-based webinar, webcasting and virtual event solutions serving over 150 global organisations.
• SaleCycle (, the world leader in innovative web-based software for online retailing; enables businesses to track and recover abandoned carts.
• My World (, a creative publishing company that produces exciting and innovative products, including books and greetings cards.
• Courage Creative (, a branding and graphic design consultancy that helps its clients strengthen their brand, build awareness and communicate more clearly.

Among the Group’s clients are British Airways, the Australian Government, Sage, Debenhams, The Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Modern, the Saatchi Gallery, Monsoon, Stella McCartney, Sony and Virgin.

Public sector and public / private partnership experience includes:
• From 2003 he was Chairman of Tyne Wear Business Link and was then asked to lead the formation of Business Link North East ( which he chaired through its initial two years.
• Working with a small group of business people Paul was a founder director of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum ( which was established to encourage enterprise and business development in the region.
• For a number of years he chaired RTC North, (, the regional technology business, which helped the public, private and university sectors work together to develop the region’s technology and design strengths.
• He developed the Software City initiative ( and chaired its Advisory Board, helping to develop the region as a major centre for software development with the country’s fastest growing IT sector outside London.
• In 2006 Paul joined the Board of One North East and then became the Agency’s Chairman. From 2010 until 2012 he was also asked to be the Chair of Chairs of all of England’s Regional Development Agencies, working closely with Ministers and Senior Civil Servants.

Arts and Culture experience includes:
• Current Chairman of Live Theatre ( one of the country’s best new writing theatres. Live has an impressive record of innovation and enterprise in how it is funded and managed and Paul is  currently working with Chief Executive, Jim Beirne, to deliver the transformational ‘LiveWorks’ project on the Newcastle Quayside.
• Patron of Sage Gateshead (
• Founded the Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture Trust ( - created to develop the city’s Music, Arts and Culture Quarter (
• Working with Sunderland University and the Customs House, Paul is a partner in the Cultural Spring ( a £2m project funded by Arts Council England as part of their Creative People and Places programme. From 2014-2016 it will help transform cultural engagement in the region.

Other roles:
• Chairman of the University of Sunderland’s Board of Governors (during which time the university took over the National Glass Centre and has established a highly successful London Campus for the University).
• Trustee, Co-sponsor and Chairman of Red House Academy, ( This was a failing school in 2007 when Paul became involved but has recently been graded as a ‘Good’ school by OFSTED.

Awards and Honours include:
• Awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to the North East (2012).
• First ever Outstanding Contribution to the City, awarded by Sunderland City Council (2010)
• Commissioned as Deputy Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear (2009).
• Awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Sunderland ( in recognition of contribution to the business and academic life of the region.

NewcastleGateshead Initiative:
• NewcastleGateshead Initiative is a destination management and marketing agency; a public-private partnership supported by Gateshead and Newcastle City Councils, working with around 170 private sector partner organisations across NewcastleGateshead and the wider region
• NewcastleGateshead Initiative is supported by a board offering expertise from a range of sectors and professions. We also work with a wide range of partners, stakeholders and businesses, who share our ambition to inspire people to visit and to live, learn, work and invest in NewcastleGateshead.
o Our marketing & communications team works to promote and position NewcastleGateshead as a vibrant tourism destination, through targeted campaigns nationally and internationally. Our visitor information team helps ensure visitors have the best possible experience when they’re here, providing information and support.
o Our cultural programming team work with partners across the destination to bring together NewcastleGateshead’s cultural offer and deliver some of our most popular festival & events, including EAT! NewcastleGateshead, Juice Festival and the NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival.
o Our Convention Bureau uses local knowledge and expertise to help organise conferences, meetings or events in NewcastleGateshead and the surrounding area. It provides a free service including, venue sourcing and accommodation booking, to arranging transport and entertainment for delegates
o Our inward investment team helps businesses locate, expand and flourish in NewcastleGateshead, providing a range of services to make it easy to realise their ambitions for growth

Useful links:
• - NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s media website
• - destination website for NewcastleGateshead

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