For this tree is a ladder and each branch a new rung
So, kids who once on branches swung
They learned to climb
Did their time
Held tight – feeding each other
Like family – like brothers
I’m honoured to have done some work with Seddon Ltd. They’re builders based in Bolton.
They Emailed me and asked me to come in for a meeting with the prospect of doing some work together.
I thought, building firm and poetry??? – Sounds good. Sounds interesting. So I tweeted
“Anyone done any work with Seddon Ltd?” and within 2 minute i was tweeted 4 times by people saying
“Yes, Seddon. They Built my mothers Care Home and were brilliant.”
“Yeah Seddon, they built a new block at our school – Bolton Firm aren’t they?”
“Seddon built the hospice my Gran was in and were wonderful”
All positive and all good. So, i went and met them and was amazed.
I discovered that they’re a family owned Building company that span three centuries and 5 generations. Established in 1897 when George and John Seddon, two orphans, who climbed out of a coal mine and set up their bricklaying firm in Little Hulton. The business now delivers nearly£200 millions of building projects across the UK employing nearly 800 people.
But, Seddon are not your average business – their priority is not profit and their values run right through everything they do
To behave as a family, providing support to our customers, staff, supply chain and stakeholders
To act ethically and do the right thing regardless of personal consequence
To take the wider view in decision-making, looking at longer term rather than short term gains
To provide stability in the employment and training of our people
To enjoy what we do and have fun in doing it
I decided to write a poem about the history and ethos of the company and present it at an annual event organised by Seddon.
To write the poem, I worked with a range of their employees in their offices in Bolton but I also went out to building sites and talked to brickies and Sparks and apprentices to capture the essence of what they do – i.e. Build Houses. Captured here by Granada Reports https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ0chgkoFlw
I worked closely with the family as well, notably with Jonathan Seddon, the Managing Director since 2007. He amazed me. Early 40’s, young family, learned his trade “hands-on” doing a YTS at the age of 16. First as a Brickie, then a Spark, then a plumber. He learned the fundamentals of building houses. His dad treated him like any other employee, harsher most probably, so as no-one thought he was getting “special treatment”. They guy still cycles to work.
I spent some time with Christopher as well, his father. He retired in 2007 but couldn’t resist continuing to be involved with the things that interested him at Seddon. But, he was the captain of the ship who had steered her through many years of growth and development and couldn’t just “let go” over night.
I was quite scared of him to be honest. He reminded me of a really strict but decent Headmaster. It was fear with great respect. He was sort the of guy who wouldn’t say a lot but what it did say, you listened and listened carefully. And, having done so much research on the company and it’s history and politic, I knew what this man had achieved and how hard he worked to achieve it.
I wrote a poem about Seddon and their history and ethos called “It Runs Right Through“. A section of the poem focuses on Seddon’s work with Young People, something Christopher Seddon was passionate about. So passionate, he made Seddon’s commitment to delivering first-class apprenticeships part of the company’s DNA.
An apprentice bricklayer himself was later awarded an MBE for his services to apprenticeships and local charities he had worked for 56 years.
I’ll never forget delivering the poem to the family and company heads sat in the Board room at Seddon headquarters in Bolton – I was petrified that they wouldn’t like what i had written.
I read the poem…………….waited for a reaction……………………………………….. and Christopher stood up and walked toward the door but stopped in front of me, patted me on the shoulder and said
“You’ve done a great job.”
Nothing else mattered – I knew that if he like the poem, I’d “done a great job”
Sadly, Christopher died in August 2015 after a battle with Cancer.
Now, I could sit here and write endless lists of Christophers achievements. I could write wonderful testaments to his character and tell you what a great man he was.But I’m not going to because it wasn’t his style and it isn’t Seddon’s style
However, to commemorate his life and most importantly, his commitment to working with young people, I’ve taken a section of the poem, worked with closely with Seddon staff and made a video that we believe champions the work Christopher.
Please feel free to share it –
RIP Christopher Seddon 1942-2015