Peter Vardy (businessman)
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.
Vardy took control of the car dealership Reg Vardy plc in 1976, after the death of his father, Reg, who had founded the business. In the late 1970s he was successful in acquiring franchises to sell various brands in the United Kingdom.
From 1982, he expanded into the volume car market, first with British manufacturers and subsequently with European and Japanese marques. In December 2005, the dealership was sold to Pendragon, the largest car dealership chain within the United Kingdom, for £506 million. Vardy stepped down as Chief Executive the following month.
Vardy was awarded the inaugural Industry Personality of the Year Award in a round of Automotive Management Awards, and received a knighthood for services to education in the Queen's Birthday Honours List of 2001.
In May 2006, the Vardy Group of Companies was launched in Durham, comprising the Vardy Property Group, led by his elder son Richard; and Peter Vardy Ltd, led by Peter Vardy (grandson of Reg Vardy) who had previously been general manager of Rossleigh Jaguar, Edinburgh.
Educational and philanthropic work
Vardy operates a philanthropic group, The Vardy Foundation, supporting several community causes.
Emmanuel Schools Foundation
He has worked to involve business in education, and funded the building of a City Technology College in Gateshead, and three Academies, in Middlesbrough, Thorne and Blyth. These four schools form the Emmanuel Schools Foundation, 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 but one with a mixed record of success to date, as noted in The Guardian article of 5 November 2009 entitled "ULT ordered to halt expansion".
Vardy has stated that widespread reports that he is a creationist are incorrect, and that he has a very traditional view about how science should be taught. In an interview with the BBC Today programme, Vardy said: "I believe that God created the earth and created man in his own image; quite how long it took him I don't know".
However, Nigel McQuoid, former director of schools at the Emmanuel Schools Foundation and former Principal of Emmanuel College, Cambridge and The King's Academy, publicly took a recognisably creationist stance, claiming that creation was a theory and evolution a "position of faith". In January 2011, Vardy won a claim in the British High Court against Tribune over claims it had made about the Emmanuel Schools teaching creationism.
Other charitable activities
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. The Vardy Foundation is partnering with Betel International who operate eighty homes across the world and have twenty five years' experience in this work. The Foundation plans to open three centres in the North East providing a home, meaningful work and somewhere to belong. The first opened in Hexham in September 2011.
Vardy's other current focus is preventing children going into the care system and finding ways to keep families together, working with the group Safe Families for Children,[not in citation given] an established charity in the United States, which in the last five years, has helped over 10,000 families in crisis by early intervention support.
He has set up a team to pilot a faith based initiative in the region of the North East across all eleven Local Authorities. SFFC UK is currently in the process of recruiting 1,000 volunteers and in May 2014, rolled out SFFC across the whole of the United Kingdom.
- Sunday Times Rich List 2009 online edition
- Chorister School website
- VARDY, Sir Peter in Who's Who 2007 online at xreferplus.com (accessed 20 October 2007)
- Business honours: Services to education, BBC News, 15 June 2001
- Peter Vardy Ltd in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For 2009 List
- Charity Commission. The Vardy Foundation, registered charity no. 328415.
- Emmanuel Schools Foundation website
- They aren't faith schools and they don't select, The Guardian, 5 December 2006
- ULT ordered to halt expansion, The Guardian, 5 November 2009
- Interview (RealAudio stream), Today programme, BBC, 15 April 2006.
- Revealed: Blair's link to schools that take the Creation literally, The Independent, 13 June 2004
- Sir Peter Vardy wins High Court apology, The Journal, 11 January 2011
- , Charity shop furnishes broken people with a fresh start in life, News and Star, 21 November 2012
- Betel International website
- Betel UK website
- , Charity is branching out, Hexham Courant, 25 December 2013
- SFFC USA website
- , Sir Peter Vardy introduces Safe Families movement to North East England, The Journal, 8 June 2013
- SFFC UK website
- , Sir Peter Vardy reveals plans to help deprived families, The Journal, 13 June 2012