Why I Love Huddersfield, sponsored by Wild PR, is a regular feature where we ask a well-known Huddersfield personality what the town means to them. Here we chat to serial entrepreneur, philanthropist and business advisor Prof Graham Leslie CBE, the man who founded global pharmaceutical giant Galpharm International and was the driving force behind the construction of the John Smith’s Stadium in the 1990s. Professor of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at the University of Huddersfield, his family runs The Woodman Inn at Thunderbridge.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I would say that most people are not aware that I compose music which my brother Hugh arranges initially and scores. Some titles are starting to be recognised and to be arranged for international stars such as Latoya Jackson.
I have played the guitar and piano all over the world and can empty a restaurant in three minutes!! For charity, I have also busked outside Boots in King Street, Huddersfield.
What does Huddersfield mean to you?
Huddersfield has been home to me and my family since 1972 and it’s where I have brought up four children. I played local league soccer, I’ve made some amazing and loyal friends and I’ve been given the opportunity to support and work with the University of Huddersfield.
I was also proud to become chairman of Huddersfield Town FC and I was the founder, chairman and creator, along with Sir John Harman, of the UK’s first ever all-seater stadium. My company sponsored it as the Galpharm Stadium. Quite simply, Huddersfield means HOME to me.
How would you describe Huddersfield to a stranger?
The best kept secret both in terms of its people, skills, talent and location – its heritage and its future. Many people working in Leeds or Manchester are now moving to live around here. It’s a lifestyle choice.
We’ll take you out for a meal in Huddersfield. Where would you like to go and why?
There are so many places to choose and my wife and I tend to select restaurants for their speciality and variety. From Devour to Punch and, of course, The Woodman due to its overall excellence and staff – but I would choose Da Sandro’s, table one, where I first dined with my wife.
The Huddersfield Blueprint is going to change the face of the town centre over the next five to 10 years. What one thing would you like to see in the town centre?
Very simple to answer – it needs a town centre which will allow people to shop safely and that attracts young people to live there.
What venue, nightclub or attraction from Huddersfield’s past would you like to see return?
Got to be Johnny’s. What a venue, what a guy and he always did a breakfast for the HTFC players before the game …. which may have had some bearing on some home results!
We all love Jodie Whittaker, of course, but who’s your favourite Doctor Who?
Jon Pertwee – his style, face, scarf, just pure Doctor!
How did you spend your time in lockdown and has the Covid-19 pandemic changed you?
The pandemic has affected everyone’s lives in varying degrees but I feel it has established in mine and many people’s lives our priorities. It has defined our values and what is important to us all – families, friends, loved ones, lifestyle.
I spent most of my time with my wife Karen (who used to say she didn’t see enough of me!!!) working to help those in all my companies, creating music, and we had food delivered so that we could cook together in those lockdowns and isolation periods.
We’re packing you off to a desert island for a month. What one item would you take with you and why?
My mobile phone as I will always need to connect with my loved ones.
And, finally, a few quick questions:
Dixon’s Milk Ices or Marston’s Chicken Shop?
Marston’s – because I have never tried them and there is always a queue each time when I pass.
Greenhead Park or Beaumont Park?
Castle Hill or Emley Moor TV mast?
Strictly Come Dancing or I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here?
Strictly Come Dancing.