Former Huddersfield gymnast and pub landlord Brian Hayhurst and his wife Elaine are ex-pats who have lived just outside Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol for 20 years. He writes every week for Huddersfield Hub.

Plumbing tycoon Charlie Mullins OBE now has a gorgeous villa here on the Costa del Sol as well as a stunning apartment on the bank of the Thames.

He spends virtually all his time here now. He only lives about five miles from us so we often see him around with his pals.

Elaine and I have met him frequently out and about always offering a friendly but firm handshake.

Charlie, who had a tough but happy childhood, lived in a small flat in Camden, NW London, where money was scarce.

He grew up to become a millionaire overcoming many obstacles – almost going bust in the 90s, due to banks not having the same drive and ambition as him.

He created a massive company called Pimlico Plumbers in 1979, casting aside a promising boxing career.

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By chance, living on our urbanisation, is a friend – Paul Humphreys (pictured left with me above) – a charismatic former London businessman who is a close mate of Charlie’s.

He lent me Charlie’s fascinating book – Bog-Standard Business: How I Took the Plunge and Became the Millionaire Plumber – which reminded me so much of my own upbringing. I was a war baby living with big sis and parents in a dank, rear terrace house in Huddersfield. We had a cramped living room, a stone sink and an outside toilet shared with two other families.

As a young lad I got into trouble with the law, and both Charlie and I left school with no qualifications.

Charlie is a firm believer in apprenticeship, and we both started working life as apprentices, carrying tools and sometimes equipment to jobs in all weathers.

And if he gets one of his dream jobs as Mayor of London he will give free travel for apprentices.

Through Paul I was able to write to Charlie talking about how our early lives were similar and how we both branched out into sport.

I love this line in particular from Charlie’s book. “We were so poor my mum went to jumble sales to get us clothing, one day I went to school in a German officer’s uniform!” I still laugh about that tale.

Charlie Mullins

Charlie recently sold his business to an American company – for around £150 million (as he said in a recent interview) – while ensuring that his son Scott remained with the company as chief executive with a 10% share in the business.

It remains to be seen if the American owners will continue with the strict rules Charlie insisted upon. No tattoos or visible body piercings, quality tools, clean uniform and all vehicles, in his vast fleet, must be immaculate, inside out. And, as a strong believer in Covid vaccination, he says ‘no jab no job!’

Charlie prided himself on offering a quality of service to his clients which included many famous people.

As for the future, Charlie has several ventures in development. One is the opportunity to help upcoming singers, such as Rachel Lea, who he is convinced will make it as a chart-topper in the pop world. Some have said he is going to be the next Simon Cowell in the music industry.

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Charlie is always fired up with ambition and wants to build a villa adjacent to the beaches of Marbella, one which will easily accommodate his family – sons Scott and Sam, his daughters Lucy and Alice and his 10 grandkids and three great-grandchildren.

Charlie is always welcomed at the many worthy charity events here on the coast, and he often gives generously to those causes he thinks need help.

So from a scruffy lad to a millionaire, Charlie now drives a Bentley, flies in private jets and stays in the best hotels in the world. Like most who know him, I think well deserved.