From challenging backgrounds and humble beginnings to setting the bar high and settling for nothing less than success – otherwise known as ‘The Kid Done Good’. Some of Hull’s best-known faces have shared their inspirational and positive journeys as they back a powerful social mobility message.

These faces included boxer Tommy Coyle, Hull Kingston Rovers Chairman and Hudgell Solicitors Founder and Managing Director Dr Neil Hudgell. Many of the city’s icons touched on the highs and lows of how they reached the positions they are in today, the barriers they have had to overcome, and their top tips for success.

Sewell Group’s ‘The Kid Done Good’ event, was hosted as part of Humber Business Week 2019 and led by our Independent Chair, Rt. Hon Alan Johnson at the Sewell Studio on Tuesday, June 4th.

Sewell Group have been announced as a Social Mobility Pledge Accredited Employer, supporting the Rt. Hon Justine Greening MP’s pioneering fight to ensure Britain is a country in which people can progress in life, regardless of their personal circumstances or background.

The powerful national Social mobility pledge campaign, which already has 200 employers representing over two million employees signed up across the UK, sees businesses promise to work in partnership with schools and colleges to provide coaching to those from disadvantaged backgrounds through careers advice, work experience, apprenticeships and mentoring, as well as promoting a level playing field for people facing challenging circumstances.

Ms Greening, former Secretary of State for Education and former Minister for Women and Equalities, joined us for the event and the other icons in encouraging other businesses to follow suit.

Alongside Chairman Dr Paul Sewell OBE, Mr Johnson and Ms Greening, the icons included:

  • Tommy Coyle – British professional boxer (held the Commonwealth lightweight title in 2018)
  • Dr Neil Hudgell – Senior Solicitor and Managing Director of Hudgell Solicitors and Chairman of Hull Kingston Rovers
  • Jo Barnes – Managing Director of Shared Agenda
  • Charlie Spencer OBE – Executive Chairman of Spencer Group
  • Emma Latimer – Chief Officer of NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)
  • Professor David Hall – Managing Partner of David Hall Consultancy Ltd
  • John Godber OBE – Multi award-winning playwright and founder of The John Godber Company
  • Andrew Burnell – Chief Executive of City Health Care Partnership CIC
  • Matt Jukes – Chief Executive of Hull City Council
  • Neil Hodgkinson – Editor of the Hull Daily Mail and Editor in Chief of Reach Plc North East, Humber & Lincolnshire region


Tommy, who was fresh from fulfilling his dream of fighting at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday, June 1st, said he avoided failure at school by not attending and could have ended up in prison had he not found boxing.

Instead, he became British Commonwealth Champion and is also a community champion with his local academies and gyms, and his Box Clever bus, which is touring Hull to inspire young people.

Tommy said: “I was in a gang when I was younger. Boxing was a positive distraction because I had to be in the gym. Now, I want a reputation for being a good guy, not a tough guy.”

Giving advice to school students among the audience, Tommy added: “Get used to the idea you are going to fail along the way.

“But if you keep working hard, continue to make sacrifices, don’t give up and keep going, eventually the law of averages says you’re going to get lucky.”

As well as his role as Hull KR Chairman, Neil Hudgell has his Hudgell Solicitors offices based in Hull, Leeds, Manchester and London, and owns food and drink businesses.

Neil said: “As a kid, I had a lot of love but little career aspirations or expectations.

“I got to 16 or 17, I found the pub and I didn’t get the education, home life, entertainment balance right.”

Neil recalled collecting his first pay packet and having his bike stolen on the same day. He said he didn’t want his life to continue in the same vein.

Neil added: “I went back to night school, became qualified and became lawyer, and I’ve done alright.”

Multi-award winning playwright John Godber didn’t read a book from cover to cover until he was seventeen.

He has since won a Laurence Olivier Award, six Los Angeles Drama Circles Awards, six Edinburgh Fringe Firsts, eight Joseph Jefferson Awards and is a Professor at four universities.

John has also won two BAFTAs and written 70 published plays, and is one of the most performed playwrights in the world.

He said: “It doesn’t matter how many trophies you’ve won, it’s what you do today. Never rest on any laurels

“You’ve got to dream it and don’t let anybody put you off.”

It comes as the Humber region has lower than average rates of residents in top jobs, with Hull ranked 464th out of 533 areas across England in terms of social mobility. East Hull in particular falls into the bottom fifth.

Ms Greening grew up on a council estate and attended a local comprehensive school. She went on to hold several positions in Government and is pioneering the Social Mobility Pledge across the country.

She said: “Don’t wait for someone in Westminster to change things. If every company does what Sewell Group has done, it would transform opportunity in Hull.

“We want to see Hull as a beacon of social mobility, so when people ask about it, we can say ‘go to Hull’.

“We hope to get more companies involved and inspire them to be part of the Pledge, working with schools and their communities, encouraging them to realise they can think big, aim high and get there.”

“We are going to make sure the whole of British business knows how to do this well and are part of this push to get change on the ground.

“Here in Hull, there are some amazing businesses which could become part of the Pledge, learn from what Sewell is doing and make a difference.

“If you can just change Hull, that’s enough, because if everybody does that in their community, we end up with a really different version of our country.”

For more information about the Social Mobility Pledge, visit: www.socialmobilitypledge.org

To watch the event, follow the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvHOmTIkFwM