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Business tycoon and OM inspires boys on Speech Day

July 4th, 2015

A truly inspirational business tycoon encouraged boys to work hard, be flexible and “push doors which are half open” – before it’s too late to take risks.

Old Monmothian Mark Neale, founder and CEO of outdoor clothing chain Mountain Warehouse, was the guest speaker at Monmouth School’s Speech Day and Prize-Giving on Saturday.

The former boarder said: “When I was 26, in 1994, I made probably the most important business decision of my life.

“I chucked in my job and set up a business – mum went ballistic.

“But she was there, with my brother, until 4am helping me to set up my first shop the night before we opened. And today, we have 206 stores and we’ve just opened one in Vancouver, on the other side of the world.”

Mr Neale, who is now married with two children, told pupils to “get some ideas, meet lots of people, make plans, but start a business before it’s too late.”

He also listed paying taxes as one of the positives of running a company.

“Since I started Mountain Warehouse, we have contributed £250m in tax to the British Exchequer,” he added.

“That’s enough for the NHS to employ 12,000 nurses for a year.”

Mr Neale thanked his parents for making significant sacrifices to send him to Monmouth School, which he believes enabled him to become so successful.

He also told pupils to “seize the day, because none of us know what’s around the corner.”

MS SD head ConnorsThe event was Headmaster Dr Steven Connors’ last day at Monmouth School, as he retires after 10 years at the helm.

He gave a moving speech, thanking all of his team and the pupils for their dedication, passion and commitment over the years.

Dr Connors covered several highlights from the last decade, making special mention of the strengthening collaboration between Monmouth School, Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls and Monmouth Comprehensive, which has led to the town’s literary festival in June enjoying its second year.

Head boy, Will, spoke about the importance of teamwork and always trying your best.

“Make the most of the opportunities given to you by the School, but most of all, enjoy what you do and make it fun,” he told his peers.

“The School motto will always be in my head – serve and obey, but do it with a smile on your face.”

Haberdashers, parents, pupils, staff and governors watched as prizes for outstanding achievements, progress and efforts in subjects ranging from maths to music, and from drama to sport and academia were given out.

And The Chapel Choir performed The Blue Bird by CV Stanford under the expert baton of David Lawson, the School’s Director of Music.

The joyful event followed The Grange Monmouth Preparatory School’s Prize-Giving on Friday, during which Head Boy, William, gave an enchanting speech, likening school life to being part of a circus.

He praised The Grange’s “ringmistress”, Elaine Thomas for being such an inspiring Head, and talked about how his teachers had helped him discover his love of music and art.

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