Peter Vardy (businessman)

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Peter Vardy

Sir Peter Vardy DL (born 4 March 1947) is a British businessman and philanthropist from Houghton-le-Spring in Sunderland. His business interests have been mainly in the automotive retail business. In the Sunday Times Rich List 2009 ranking of the wealthiest people in the United Kingdom, he was placed 388th, with an estimated fortune of £140 million.[1]

He attended the Chorister School in Durham (1956–1961)[2] and Durham School.[3]

Business interests[edit]

Vardy took control of the family's Ford car dealership in 1976, Reg Vardy, after the death of his father who had founded the business. He expanded the business from the one dealership in the north east of England with six staff, to a group of over 100 dealerships with over 6,000 staff. He grew the business nationally representing luxury and performance cars such as Rolls Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Land Rover Jaguar and Audi, in addition to the major volume brands. In February 2005, he accepted an offer of £506m from Pendragon, making the enlarged group the largest car dealership chain within the United Kingdom.

Following the sale of Reg Vardy plc, the Vardy Group of Companies was launched in Durham, comprising the Vardy Property Group, led by his elder son Richard; and Peter Vardy Ltd, a new motor group established in Scotland and led by Peter Vardy [4] [5]

Vardy has been awarded several business and industry awards, as well as an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration (University of Sunderland, 1995) [6] and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws (Eastern University of Philadelphia, USA, 2009). He has received a knighthood for services to education in the Queen's Birthday Honours List of 2001.[7], as well being appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear in 2002 [8] and the Freedom of the City of Sunderland [9] in 2011.

Educational and philanthropic work[edit]

Vardy established a charity, The Vardy Foundation, in 1989, and has supported a wide range of education, rehabilitation and community causes in the UK and internationally.[10] In 2015, both he and his wife, Lady Margaret Vardy, received the Beacon Award for Philanthropy for Impact and Dedication [11].

Emmanuel Schools Foundation[edit]

In 1989, Vardy responded to a request from Kenneth Baker and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to build one of the first City Technology Colleges. A flagship initiative enlisting business people to work with educationists to raise educational standards in areas where educational standards were poor. He sponsored the building of a City Technology College in Gateshead, and subsequently under the Tony Blair initiative sponsored a further three Academies, in Middlesbrough, Thorne and Blyth.

These four schools form the Emmanuel Schools Foundation,[12] a coalition of schools with a Christian ethos based in the north of England. All of the schools have received Ofsted ratings from "good" to "outstanding". In October 2010, Vardy transferred sponsorship of the schools to the United Learning Trust, another sponsor of academies who operate over thirty schools nationwide.

Other charitable activities[edit]

More recently, Sir Peter has begun to support homeless people, who through alcohol and drug misuse or on leaving custodial sentences find themselves without a home.[13] The Vardy Foundation is partnering with Betel International[14] who operate homes in over 24 countries across the world and have twenty five years' experience in this work.[15] The Foundation plans to support three centres in the north east providing a home, meaningful work and somewhere to belong. The first opened in Hexham in September 2011[16] and the second is a women's house opening in 2017.

He is a director in the Durham and Tees Valley Community Rehabilitation Company[17] which has set up a charity called ARCC[18] to fulfil the probation service work in the north east.

After seeing the distress caused by the breakdown in families in the United Kingdom, Vardy set about finding a solution to the major problem. He visited Chicago in 2011 and was introduced to Dr Dave Anderson of Safe Families for Children,[19], an established charity in the United States, which has helped reduce the number of children going into state care by almost 50%.

He established Safe Families for Children[20] in the United Kingdom in 2012[21] and, by using volunteers has seen the charity develop throughout England working with 31 local authorities and seeing reductions of up to 17.5% in the first years of operation. His vision is to have volunteers in all towns and cities and see a significant reduction on the 70,000 children currently being taken into care.


  1. ^ Sunday Times Rich List 2009 online edition
  2. ^ Chorister School website Archived 23 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ VARDY, Sir Peter Archived 9 February 2013 at in Who's Who 2007 online at (accessed 20 October 2007)
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ [3]
  7. ^ Business honours: Services to education, BBC News, 15 June 2001
  8. ^ [4]
  9. ^ [5]
  10. ^ Charity Commission. The Vardy Foundation, registered charity no. 328415. 
  11. ^ [6]
  12. ^ Emmanuel Schools Foundation website
  13. ^ [7] Archived 2 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine., Charity shop furnishes broken people with a fresh start in life, News and Star, 21 November 2012
  14. ^ Betel International website
  15. ^ Betel UK website
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 January 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2014. , Charity is branching out, Hexham Courant, 25 December 2013
  17. ^ [8]
  18. ^ [9]
  19. ^ SFFC USA website
  20. ^ [10]
  21. ^ [11], Sir Peter Vardy introduces Safe Families movement to North East England, The Journal, 8 June 2013

External links[edit]