Biography

Born in Huddersfield, raised in Northumberland, Richard is a northerner to the core. After the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle he studied economics at York University.

His father hoped he might follow a safe career in accountancy. The turning point was winning a place on Procter and Gamble’s Marketing Vacation Course, which led to a job in Brand Management at the company’s UK HQ in Newcastle.

As a child Richard enjoyed enterprise: breeding and selling rabbits at age 6; learning magic tricks to perform at children’s parties at age 11; and a fishing fly-tie business, which he ran until he left York University, earning him enough for the deposit on his first house.

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Appearing in national and regional newspapers in 1982 when Richard found that fishing flies named Hookers could be converted into high fashion earrings. They sold in hair salons across the country.

Four years in Brand Management at Procter and Gamble between 1986 and 1990 provided thorough training in marketing principles, and Richard was in his element.  Hungry to spread his wings in other directions, he then joined Deloitte for just over a year as a Management Consultant.

Out of hours, Richard, with fellow ex-P&G Brand Manager Jeremy Middleton, were running a property letting agency, primarily stocked with properties which they or their friends owned.

Richard was soon impatient to go it alone and leave the big corporate environment. He set up in a consultancy partnership with Jeremy.

Running the property letting and management business in Newcastle highlighted the difficulties in finding good tradesmen when tenants experienced an emergency.

Looking for a backer, Richard and Jeremy took the idea of an emergency plumbing and heating business to all the UK water companies. It was South Staffordshire Water who seized the opportunity. This led to a joint venture to set up HomeServe in Walsall in April 1993.

This was the first assignment of the new partnership…and the last for Richard!

 
Richard and Jeremy, friends from their time at Procter and Gamble.

Richard and Jeremy, friends from their time at Procter and Gamble.

Fastfix was an emergency plumbing business set up in Newcastle by Richard and Jeremy, to help homeowners with plumbing and heating emergencies.

Richard (bottom right) as a cub scout in Stocksfield, Northumberland. His mother, Pippa, was Akela (back row). Scouting was a formative part of his youth.

Richard (bottom right) as a cub scout in Stocksfield, Northumberland. His mother, Pippa, was Akela (back row). Scouting was a formative part of his youth.

Kate and Richard Harpin.

Kate and Richard Harpin.

 

Winning the EY UK Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008 inspired Richard to think more about entrepreneurship, and The Enterprise Trust was born. Today Richard’s entire annual salary and bonus supports this charity.

Encouraging entrepreneurship in a non-school environment, Richard developed and launched an entrepreneurs badge for Scouts, and became a Scouting Ambassador in 2010.

He was invited to sit on the panel of judges for this competition, and was chairman of the judges in 2010.

Championing more UK apprenticeships, Richard was a member of the National Apprentice Ambassadors Network, and was chairman of the West Midlands network from 2010-13.

Richard is married with three children, and lives in Yorkshire.