James Timpson on almost losing it all, the UK’s prison crisis and the underrated power of kindness

June 10, 2022. Series 6. Episode 46

My guest this today is James Timpson OBE – the inspiring and successful businessman whose family-run company boasts over two thousand Timpsons, Snappy Snaps and other high street brands. In this conversation you’ll hear how the impact of lockdown almost took the company down. As he said, “half of me thought, this is a business experiment to see if we can survive – the other half thought, if we’re going to go down, we might as well go down in style sticking to our values.”

You’ll also hear about his loving but somewhat unconventional upbringing in a home that over the years was a refuge to some 90 foster children. An environment he says, that could go from “calm to chaos in a matter of seconds.” It’s clear that this early exposure to crisis in its’ rawest form is where Timpson’s culture of kindness was born. It also led to James’s other great passion in life – the rehabilitation of ex-offenders. James is Chairman of the Prison Reform Trust. But he also walks the talk in his business life. Timpson’s programme of recruiting former prisoners is one of Britain’s most progressive and successful re-employment initiatives. But as James says, it’s only when he sees a reformed ex-offender become the CEO of a well-known public company that he will begin to believe we are truly changing our attitude towards criminal justice.

So this conversation is an inspiring one and I think demonstrates how a little kindness and generosity of spirit toward those in crisis, can go a very, very long way. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


James’ Crisis Cures:

1 – Breathing – learning how to breathe. I try hard to be calm and thoughtful. My mind’s too busy to meditate.

2 – Physical exercise – we’re a Peloton family. 45 minutes on that trying to beat my target. I always feel better after that.

3 – Car rallies with the kids or music festivals. When you’re dancing or in a car – nothing seems to worry you.



Prison Reform Trust


Host – Andy Coulson

Producer – Louise Difford


Full transcript: 

00:00:00.00 [Music]


00:00:20.00 Andy Coulson:

Welcome to Crisis What Crisis? the podcast where we aim to guide you towards a more resilient approach to life and whatever it might throw at you. I’m Andy Coulson and on this podcast you’ll hear from the embattled, shamed, courageous, ruined, damaged, resilient, unlucky and lucky survivors or crisis. Their stories, I hope you’ll agree, are as useful as they are compelling.


00:00:42.06 Andy Coulson:

My guest today is James Timpson OBE, the enormously successful businessman whose family run company boasts over 2,000 Timpsons, Snappy Snaps and other high street brands up and down the country. In this conversation you’ll hear how James’ decision during lockdown, to send all of his staff home on full pay almost lost him everything. As he said, ‘…half of me thought this is s business experiment to see if we can survive the other half thought if we’re gonna go down we’ll go down in style sticking to our values’.


00:01:16.22 Andy Coulson:

You’ll also hear about his loving, but somewhat unconventional, upbringing in a home that over the years was a refugee to some ninety foster children. An environment he says that could go from calm to chaos in a matter of seconds. It’s clear that this early exposure to crisis, in its rawest form, is where that culture of kindness and the firm belief that everyone should be treated the same was firmly embedded in James. It also led to his other great passion in life, the rehabilitation of ex-offenders.


00:01:47.14 Andy Coulson:

James is the Chairman of the Prison Reform Trust but he also walks the talk in his business life. Timpson’s programme of recruiting former prisoners is one of Britain’s most progressive and successful re-employment initiatives. But as James says, ‘…it’s only when he sees a reformed ex-offender become the CEO of a well-known public company that he will really begin to believe that we are truly changing out attitude towards criminal justice’.


00:02:15.17 Andy Coulson:

So this conversation is, I think, an inspiring one and I think demonstrates how a little kindness and generosity of spirit towards those in crisis can go a very, very long way. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


00:02:29.07 Andy Coulson:

James Timpson, welcome to Crisis What Crisis? How are you?


00:02:33.20 James Timpson:

I’m good thank you, all good, no crisis today fortunately so it’s good.


00:02:37.12 Andy Coulson:

Ah, very good, very good, pleased to hear it. Thanks so much for joining us. James, if I may, I’d like to start right at the beginning, if that’s okay? With your upbringing. Because although it was, as you’ve described it, a very loving, very privileged childhood, you also grew up around crisis because your home was a crisis refuge really. Your amazing mother, Alex, was a truly remarkable woman, a dedicated, prolific foster parent who, with your dad, cared for over ninety children. And she was also a very dedicated campaigner for children’s rights, awarded an MBE in fact for her amazing work. Tell us a bit about life, home as a child, James. About what that upbringing taught you about crisis.


00:03:31.00 James Timpson:

So to give a bit of a background, when I was eight years old my parents started fostering kids. And in those days fostering was very different because basically these kids came to you for a maximum of six months and then they went away. So from the age of eight I’d wake up in the morning, go down for breakfast, go into school and these kids would have arrived overnight and they’re sitting round the breakfast table borrowing my clothes and part of the family.


00:04:01.02 James Timpson:

And they were very different from the friends that I’d have from school because a lot of these kids had never really been to school. They knew far more swear words than I knew. They were quite violent but also very loving. They were people who had never seen half the things I’d seen. I mean, they’d never been on an aeroplane, they’d never been on holiday, they’d never been to a zoo. They’d never done the things that most of us take for granted. And it was like a sort of permanent state of chaos because they had no structure in their lives. They didn’t really know how to conduct themselves in anything from eating, you know some of them had never used knives and forks. It was just the fighting, the rowing, the level of noise just ramped up dramatically when foster children arrived.


00:04:49.21 James Timpson:

And in some ways I was fortunate because I got to see on the inside of what it’s like to have these complex lives that these people have but also that they were always younger than me. And I think if the foster children had come in who were always older than us it would have been really different. But my mum specialised in having lots of babies, so we had lots of little babies around the place. We actually had, the only older kids that we had were Down syndrome kids who used to come to us for respite care, my parents used to love the Downs kids coming to stay with us. But I would say it was a combination of living in a bit of a war zone, living in the most loving caring environment and you go from calm to chaos in seconds.


00:05:33.08 Andy Coulson:

Because these moments would, the chaotic moments would just come presumably out of a blue sky almost? Because you’re dealing with kids that were not in control of their emotions. That had had traumatic lives, I suspect in many cases? But how did you as a child handle that? Are there any particular moments that stick in your mind that kind of bring that to life?


00:05:58.15 James Timpson:

I’ve got so many. One of the reasons why I get really stressed about going to airports on time now is because we had a number of cases where the foster children, because they were scared of going in aeroplanes for a first time, would make lots of reasons why they couldn’t go on holiday or they were late or they would go and hide. The worst one was we were going to America for a big family holiday, we’d never been to America before and we had a foster child called Andrew coming with us. And he just did a runner about half an hour before we were meant to leave for the airport. And the chaos that creates, we’ve lost a child, they’re meant to be coming on holiday with us. The whole things was…


00:06:33.10 James Timpson:

So examples like that where it just goes from… when everyone’s really looking forward to something, just there’s a thing round attachment disorder and this inability of traumatised people to have a nice, kind happy, normal environment around them and then you just want to help them. So let me give you another one. We had, in fact it was another boy, very charismatic but very challenging boy, he just smashed everything up all the time. He killed the cat, smashed the cars up.


00:07:04.05 Andy Coulson:

He killed your cat?


00:07:06.16 James Timpson:

Yeah. Well it just died in his care but he obviously strangled it, there was nothing wrong with it. And it’s a combination of you know you’re meant to be doing your homework and you’ve got a dead cat.


00:07:19.07 Andy Coulson:

I mean, how were you, you’re eight when the fostering started, but you’re, as I explained earlier, ninety children, the fostering went on for a very long time. How do you remember understanding it, I suppose and accepting it? Because although your parents obviously did the most amazing job of explaining what fostering was, what it was all about, why you were doing it, still a very difficult thing to comprehend, even as a teenager, let alone as an eight year old. What do you remember about how your parents created that environment that allowed you to have this loving, wonderful childhood in the same environment as all this chaos?


00:08:12.17 James Timpson:

We were very loved. And we also knew that the foster children, at some point, would go. And some you didn’t want to because they were great fun and they were really nice to have around but others you were just counting down the days and hours until they went because their behaviour was just so challenging. But it was normal because that’s what we were used to. But when I look back on it now, bringing people into your home, often very damaged and abused, malnourished, uneducated, it was a risk. It is a real risk because you’re exposing your family to risks that most families don’t have.


00:08:59.19 James Timpson:

But it also gives you an opportunity to see life in a completely different way and to know that there are certain things that you can do to help these kids. So in some ways one of the things why I’m a bit of a sales person is because you have to sell yourself to these kids so they don’t kick off when you’re having to look after them. You know, there’s ways of managing complex people so they trust you and they stay calm.


00:09:27.04 Andy Coulson:

And that was something you were doing effectively as a child? You were learning that skill as a child really?


00:09:32.20 James Timpson:

Yeah, you have to sell yourself to get people behaving in the way you want, to make life easier for you.


00:09:39.07 Andy Coulson:

Yeah, yeah and to avoid the real moments of drama.


00:09:44.23 James Timpson:

Because when it kicks off, it really kicks off.


00:09:47.17 Andy Coulson:

Yeah, but I’m just interested in how your parents explained it to you. Because the most loving child in the world, you’ve just given the example of your cat being killed, could cause you as a child, to… that can be a deeply upsetting moment in a child’s life. Your parents obviously did the most amazing job of explaining the context and the kind of reasons why these things were happening. Or maybe you kind of worked it out with your siblings and it is just fascinating that you were able to navigate it, I suppose.


00:10:29.11 James Timpson:

I mean, we were young people too. So we’re not… so at that age you’re not sophisticated. You don’t understand these things. But my parents were always very true to their word. My dad took my brother and I to the football. My sister went horse riding. All those sort of things, so we did get the one on one time with our parents. But then you get the full-on, just the normal family routine we all have of meals round the table and all that sort of stuff, watching TV at night and stuff and that was when we were in it altogether. But it was a very clear distinction and we knew that we were our parents’ children and we also knew that my parents were trying to help these kids and their families. And we had a role in that but my parents, certainly my mother, my dad was out working most of the time, but it was my mum’s job in her life to try and help these kids. And we had a small part to play in it.


00:11:28.21 Andy Coulson:

Yeah. I mean, you’re being exposed to the sort of tough side of life at home but as I understand it your mum also would visit prisons. And obviously we’ll talk about your work in that world in more detail a little bit later. So you have children, babies, that she was fostering who she would take to prison so that they could get some time with their mother, who obviously was inside. And you’d go with her and sort of sit in the car outside while all this was happening. I mean, that’s a window into a very kind of brutal grown up world, isn’t it? What do you remember about those kind of moments and the impact that it had?


00:12:13.15 James Timpson:

When you have a baby going into care it’s normally because, well in our case, maybe things have changed now but when we were doing this, it’s because their mums have gone to prison. And normally it was like a sort of, happen in the middle of the night, put on remand, wouldn’t be released so the kids would be taken into care. And because we lived in a big house in the middle of nowhere it was a safe place for these babies to go because no one knew where they were. Because often you’d have people who would basically try and get their babies back and husbands, boyfriends and so on so it could be pretty spicy.


00:12:44.16 James Timpson:

And so whenever things sort of settled down my mum, once or twice a week, used to go to Styal Prison which is a women’s prison near Manchester airport not far from where we used to live, and we used to go there. She had a Peugeot 505 estate, remember it now, no seatbelts in those days. And she used to drive to Styal Prison, the car park is exactly the same today as it was then. And we used to listen to Abba cassettes played in the car for what felt like hours and hours, probably I was fighting with my siblings at the time in the car when we got bored. And I was always fascinated by what went on over that wall.


00:13:16.10 James Timpson:

So my mum would go in with this baby and then she’d come back just telling us what happened, was it a good visit. She was very interested between the connection between the mum and the baby and sometimes there wasn’t really that sort of connection and others it was just terribly sad. And it always fascinated me what went on the other side of the wall. Why was someone kept there and they couldn’t be with their children? What had they done wrong that was so bad that they can’t be there to read their kids a story at night? And I just felt it was sort of wrong. I didn’t understand the complexities of it and I just found it fascinating.


00:13:51.09 Andy Coulson:

So with modern parenting you often hear that it’s all about actually protecting your children from that more brutal side of life, particularly when they’re young. Your life seems to be the very clear demonstration that the opposite has to be right. Because all of these experiences, we’ve touched on them only briefly, but these experiences obviously have kind of fuelled you in your adult life in a way that’s just very clear and remarkable. The things that you now decide, businesses included, focus your mind and effort, all seems to come from those childhood experiences. Or am I just being overly simplistic? Is it more nuanced than that?


00:14:39.15 James Timpson:

I think it’s a combination of the fact that a certain amount of our personalities are set, aren’t they? But I just get really angry and in a positive way, the fact that I feel people don’t get the chance in life that they should do. I just think it’s unfair. And I think it’s unfair that mistakes that people make when they are young or in their life shouldn’t define them. And I just have it in my body that no one’s more important than anybody else and everyone should be treated as an equal. And it just really pisses me off when people aren’t. And so that’s my sort of engine going all the time. I just feel these things are wrong.


00:15:22.17 James Timpson:

And so the way I run the business and the way I get involved in other things is sort of driven by that. And a lot of that does go back to my mother and fostering, the fact that these young kids and babies who came to live with us were treated as an equal with us. You know, we knew we were our parents children but they were treated as an equal, they ate the same food, they wore the same clothes, they came on holiday with us. They went to private school and my parents paid for foster children to go to private school. There was no difference. And whilst we all have different personalities and different ways we go about living our lives, we’re all equal.


00:16:02.06 Andy Coulson:

You obviously then hold to the view that there is value in showing young people, our kids that side of life. Have you done the same, out of interest? I mean, your work is so clear and so fundamental to your life that I guess your kids just sort of see it every day, that attitude that you’ve just explained to us. But do you think more generally that we don’t do enough to have these kind of conversations earlier in people’s lives? Prison is a very good example, right? It’s a grown up adult conversation and is almost to be kind of slightly pushed to one side. We don’t really want to have that conversation, do we, in schools or in a sort of younger context?


00:16:45.15 James Timpson:

I mean, it’s much easier to go through life thinking that everyone’s like you. That, in my case, privileged upbringing, financially secure, that’s the way it is. But that’s not real. And I think as a parent we try to, Roisin and I, we have three kids who are all nearly grown up now. But you’re just signposting all the time about what life is really like for people. And the fact that they should not judge people on their past or what they look like or where they live or what they say.


00:17:20.05 James Timpson:

So let me give you one example. Niamh, our daughter’s, in her second year at Durham University now. And when she went up there for her interview day and you have to go and check things out, her appointment wasn’t until three o’clock but we got there at eleven o’clock. So I thought, great there’s a prison in Durham city centre so let’s go there. So I phoned up the governor and said, ‘listen I know it’s short notice but my daughter, my wife and I would like to come and have a look round the prison,’ I explained how I’m involved with prisons. And then half an hour later we were walking on the wings with our eighteen year old daughter, talking to prisoners, talking to officers, we were in the health care unit and it’s real. You know when you’re in Durham it’s a really good example because it’s right in the middle of the city centre so students are walking past the gate all the time but maybe they should know what goes on on the other side of the gate too because it’s real.


00:18:12.22 Andy Coulson:

That’s remarkable. James, your mum died six years ago, I think I’m right in saying. You set up a trust in her name which continues to do amazing work for looked after children. I’m sure her loss is still deeply felt by all of you, especially your dad. Tell me a little bit more about that trust and the work that it does.


00:18:42.07 James Timpson:

So we always go back fifteen years in the business, we used to basically have a charity of the year and it went out to a vote. And basically whoever gave the best presentation got the money for the year, NSPCC, ChildLine, that kind of thing. Because we’re a national business we need to have a charity that covers all of our colleagues and all of our shops. So then we started to do lots of work with a charity called After Adoption. So we did that for about four or five years. And then when my mum died I thought, you know what, let’s use this as an opportunity to really focus on giving money to the things that she wanted us to give money to when she was still alive.


00:19:20.09 James Timpson:

So we set up the Alex Timpson Trust and I think our sort of overall goal is to help children shine. So basically we focus on fostering and adoption because that’s what we know about. And my dad is really interested in attachment disorder which is what a lot of kids who go through the care system have, where you basically struggle in life to have trusting, loving relationships with people, pets, colleagues, loved ones. And one of the things we’ve always been interested in is how teachers, when they know about attachment, in the same way as knowing about autism or dyslexia, they’re much more understanding and they can help the kids. It’s not because they’re thick it’s because they’ve got these issues and attachment is far more common than…


00:20:04.17 James Timpson:

So we did a whole lot of work on attachment. And then also we knew that, I mean over the years we’re always paying for foster families or even parents who’ve taken the kids on and adopted that are foster children, couldn’t really afford to go on holidays. So we’re always paying for holidays and stuff. So we said, well why don’t we buy some holiday homes so foster parents can go on holiday with their foster kids. Because a lot of the time they’ve never been on holiday to the seaside and so on. So we bought some holiday homes and we do that and we help fund work around that kind of area.


00:20:33.10 James Timpson:

So you know, every three months my dad, myself and a couple of colleagues meet to work out who we’re going to give money to, you know we have our list and so on. And we’ve always come down, we always decide, what would my mum have done? Would she have said yes to that, no to that? And because she was such a pushover and a soft touch on these things it’s virtually always yes so that’s what we always do.


00:20:52.24 Andy Coulson:

Right, okay.


00:20:53.14 James Timpson:

So no, it’s been great. And also I know that it’s going to carry on.


00:20:57.18 Andy Coulson:

The of course where the children in care, looked after kids and your prison reform work connect is that horribly depressing number of kids who come out of care and end up in prison. The link between those two worlds is, or the bridge between those two worlds is real. Where in your view, do we target the solution to that? I know employment in terms of ex-offenders is your number one priority, but for those kids in care who are immediately coming out of care, and immediately they’re then treated as an adult…


00:21:40.03 Andy Coulson:

We have Lemn Sissay on the podcast some time ago, I don’t know if you know Lemn, an amazing man who’s written an amazing book about his story, I mean, just a terribly sad, but at the same time incredibly uplifting story of a lad who comes out of care. And the thing that struck me was the immediate switch of support was just flipped and he was just on his own, as an adult, looking for a flat without a job, just only ever having been, well certainly for the preceding years been in care, so what’s your view, James, in how we start to approach that challenge?


00:22:18.15 James Timpson:

Well Lemn, I’ve read the book, it’s incredible. In fact one of the rooms in our training centre is named after him because we were so inspired by what, his life is incredible. I’m going to take one area which is schools. I think schools have got a lot to do to help people who come from the care background. Because the kids are more challenging, by nature they’re just more challenging. So I’ll give you a couple of examples. Greggs, as in sausage roll Greggs, they run breakfast clubs around the country in schools. And they’re brilliant, it’s such a simple concept.


00:22:55.10 James Timpson:

So we work with a school in Winsford in Cheshire where a lot of the foster kids that we had came from. And I think we pay three grand a year and they do free breakfast for kids who want to come in there. And parents come and help out. And for lots of these kids it’s the first time they’ve ever had a proper breakfast, the routine because their parents aren’t in, they’re working night shifts or they’re, there’s no one who gets out of bed. So I think the structure of a school day is very important.


00:23:26.09 James Timpson:

But also the teachers being aware of the challenges these kids have. And I come back to the point so what I’m saying Andy about attachment disorder. About understanding that these kids, when they kick off because they don’t get their own way, when they’re put in a position where they fear they’re going to fail, they run away or they fight, It’s not because they’re bad kids, it’s just because they’re damaged. And it’s about how we recognise that they’re damaged and what we can do to help them.


00:23:52.00 James Timpson:

And actually the support networks for autism, dyslexia, even attachment are becoming far more established and it does make a big difference to kids. So I would say for specially care leavers schools, when they understand the issues, can do a huge amount of work. And the school we work with in Winsford, we’ve been working with them for many years, the impact they have on care leavers lives is fantasist. It really makes a difference because they’re on it, they know what they’re doing, they really care.


00:24:22.04 Andy Coulson:

But the school’s responsibility ends with the child invariably leaving school. So how do we catch them at that point? Because that, presumably, is when the risks really start to kick in. So once the kind of support of school has gone and the support of the care system has gone, where do you think we should target? How do we kind of keep a grip on these kids at that stage?


00:24:48.11 James Timpson:

Well, in fact you should ask my brother this question because when he was Children’s Minister they managed to get through a bill that foster children are supported up to the age of twenty one now rather than just eighteen, which I think that’s a big difference. But you’re right, the danger zone is leaving school to getting to I would say, twenty-four, twenty-five, especially the young men. Because an employer we struggle recruiting men under the age of twenty-four. They’re just not mature enough. They don’t stick with things. Their hormones are all over the place.


00:25:20.06 James Timpson:

So I do think it is a massive problem and there are three elements that they need in their life, it’s somewhere to live, someone to love them and a job. And as a business the thing that we can do is the job part but a lot of it is down to connections and the ability to use those connections to get a job doing anything. But I think hardly any of the foster children who came to us went to university. Even now, I don’t know what the stats are but I suspect very few care leavers go to university. And they drift around until they find those three elements of their life. Somewhere to live, someone to look out for them and a job.


00:26:10.14 James Timpson:

But I think it’s about a third of people in prison have been in the care system. So the easy alternative for them is to have a life of crime. You know they get identity, they join gangs and gangs are the first to give them that element of being part of something. They feel successful whereas in lots of other jobs they don’t feel successful. So I think it comes down to helping them get, holding onto them as long as you can until they mature enough to get a job. And if they’re lucky enough to find a great partner that make a big difference too.


00:26:49.18 Andy Coulson:

Okay, let’s talk about the day job. You run Timpsons, the brilliant family business we all know. The business that was founded by your great-great grandfather, I think I’m right in saying. One of the many remarkable things about Timpsons is that the business essentially has the same ethos as it did when it was founded in 1865, I mean, it is essentially the same. If you don’t mind, James, you’ve told this story a thousand times I’m sure, but I’d love to hear it from you directly, just tell just the story of that ethos and how has it survived through these generations to you now as the chief exec?


00:27:31.16 James Timpson:

Well we’re a family business and that makes things different because there’s always been a Timpson running the business so there’s that sort of consistency of a family. And, I don’t know where it’s by luck or by judgement or the fact that we’re just maybe commercial people and I’ll come back to that one in a minute, but it’s much nicer running a business where there is a culture of kindness. It’s much more interesting to run a business where people stay for a long time. Where people enjoy working in the business.


00:28:02.09 James Timpson:

And it comes back to this point in the end, I believe the most commercially successful way to run an organisation is not be a shit-bag but to be kind. And to be kind you don’t need to be a pushover, you need to be someone who listens, knows their people, looks after them when they’ve got a problem, treats them as an equal and when you can treat them and spoil them with things you should do it. They’re part of your family and a true family business isn’t people who have the surname of the founder, it’s everybody who works in that business whether they’ve just joined or been there for forty five years. A family business is where everybody is treated as part of the family.


00:28:43.07 James Timpson:

So my great-great grandfather when he first started the business, I’d love to have met him actually, it would have been fascinating to know what he was really like. I’ve sort of read bits, family stories and letters and so on. But it was my great grandfather who really grew the business from 1929 to 1960, he was the one that really embedded this culture of kindness. And the fact that we employ people from all walks of life but everybody is treated the same.


00:29:17.19 Andy Coulson:

And that stemmed from your great grandfather on the sort of arriving in Manchester to start the business and being penniless and getting a leg-up basically. Someone sort of helped him out and he made the decision at that point that this would be a business that would give back?


00:29:35.24 James Timpson:

Yeah, so the story goes, and you know I don’t know if this is a hundred percent true but this is what’s been written down in the family journals, my great-great grandfather who founded the business, when he was fourteen he was sent to Manchester from his little farming village near Kettering to go and live with his uncle because there were lots of jobs in Manchester at the time. And the flag business in their village, they used to make lots of flags for people in battles, wasn’t doing very well.


00:30:05.01 James Timpson:

So anyway he went to Manchester but he’d never been on a train before so he got on the wrong train and ended up at the station in Sheffield sleeping overnight on a platform, not knowing what to do because he had no money. And he met this guy who gave him the money to get to Manchester and he always said that person’s helped me out so it’s my job to help others. So that’s something that I think is a really good story but it also signifies that we all benefit in life if we help others.


00:30:34.14 Andy Coulson:

You said earlier that it’s easier of you because it’s a family business. But the business world is littered with family businesses that have not managed to hang on to that ethos. And in fact I would say it’s probably more usual that family businesses fall apart for that reason rather than find their way through. We know plenty of businesses that have ended in exactly that situation. So what is it about the Timpsons that you’ve… I mean, it think we know the answer, don’t we? Because you’ve described your childhood so we certainly know how it bridged from one generation to yours. But clearly this is something that runs through your family in a very powerful way.


00:31:20.00 James Timpson:

I think yeah, it’s about the values isn’t it? And the values you have in your life, if it works in your life why doesn’t it work, it should work in your family too. And those are the values that we talk about a lot. I think it helps that my dad… so my grandfather actually sold the business because there was a big fall out of family and my dad bought it back. So the shareholding used to be very dispersed and now it’s not at all which makes a difference.


00:31:43.21 James Timpson:

But I also think what helps for us is we’re not really financially driven. You know the business is financially very successful and we have a very nice lifestyle but that’s not our drive. Our drive is to have a really good business that we’re really proud of. And I think that has meant that we can run it in the way that we want and we get that longevity rather than… I see these businesses all the time where they’re just bleeding it, they’re taking every bit of cash out of the business out of the business that they can and that’s not helpful for long term success of the business.


00:32:12.05 Andy Coulson:

We’ll be right back after this.


00:32:14.17 Andy Coulson:

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00:33:00.18 Andy Coulson:

Getting your mindset right is the absolute key when you’re navigating a crisis or if you’re just struggling with day to day pressures. You’ll find them at myndstream.com that’s mind with a Y, they’re also on Spotify, Apple, Amazon, wherever you download your music from. So take back some control and consider making a Myndstream playlist one of your crisis cures, I don’t think you’ll regret it.


00:33:26.07 Andy Coulson:

And now back to James Timpson.


00:33:29.06 Andy Coulson:

Well values are tested in the difficult times, obviously, and you’ve had some difficult times as a business. I’m sure there’ve been some that we maybe have read about, some that we haven’t. But give us a feel, James, and if you’re comfortable doing so, tell us about one of those difficult moments when the values are being tested and you stayed the course.


00:33:51.06 James Timpson:

Okay, let’s talk about Covid. And I think that the way I react to difficult situations is that I’m a lot calmer than I am normally when it’s not difficult. And I don’t know whether that’s because my personality or what I was brought up with this sort of chaotic situation with foster children in the house, but I sort of become quite calm in a crisis. So let’s take Covid. The business was fine before Covid, everything was going great. I just six months of roadshows around the country, talking to colleagues about the culture and all the new things we’re doing and growing the business and extra colleague benefits and so on and then within three weeks all my shops were shut.


00:34:31.10 James Timpson:

Now I had in my head that we were going to be closed for I don’t know two weeks, three weeks, something like that, we had lots of money in the bank, we had no borrowings, you know we’d run the business very conservatively. So I wrote a letter to all of our colleagues to say you’re going to have to go home now, I’m going to guarantee you hundred percent of your salary, everything else will continue as normal, and as long as we’re kind to each other we’ll come through this okay.


00:34:58.02 James Timpson:

So after three weeks I’d lost four million quid and I thought okay this is going to get worse. And then the rent was due with all of our landlords. Obviously we’ve got 2,100 shops so we’ve got lots of landlords. And one of my finance colleagues said, ‘what do you want to do about the rents because they’re going out next week?’ So I said, ‘we pay all of our rents, we’ve signed agreements, we’ve stick by everything we sign in the good times and the bad,’ and so half of me thought well this is a bit of a business experience to see whether we can survive and the other one was well if we’re going to go down we might as well go down in style and stick to our values.


00:35:37.13 James Timpson:

So whilst we made redundancies which was bloody difficult, I paid everyone all the way through, we paid all of our suppliers and in fact we went from something like £19.7 million the day we shut to the shops to £74,000, that was our lowest point. So we never actually went overdrawn. But it was just a case of what do we do? This is unprecedented, I was reading the news all the time, trying to communicate, I was sending daily videos out to everybody about what was going on, all the things we were trying to do. But you have to stick to your values otherwise I don’t think you really can look everyone in the face afterwards.


00:36:18.15 Andy Coulson:

Was there a point though on that road that you just described where you thought that actually I think we’re going to lose all this?


00:36:29.17 James Timpson:

Oh yeah. On day three into lockdown there were about four of us in the office and we’re all sitting about twenty feet apart, no one would… you know, you were touching handles with your elbows at that time. And when I walked out of the office to go home it was a really sunny day and I thought, you know what, I’m going to have to take a photo here, so I actually took a video of my office thinking I’m never going to come back here again. I thought we were done. We are a high fixed cost, high margin business, that has no online capability at all. And if people don’t go to work or don’t go on holiday or don’t go to school they don’t need us.


00:37:08.07 James Timpson:

So we were sort of the worst business to have in Covid, you probably couldn’t get a worse one than us. So yes so we just we made it through and would I have done anything differently? Not many things actually. We did the right things by our values, we made a number of redundancies, which was horrendous, but we realised in retrospect we probably had too many people. So we made the business probably fitter to cope with the choppy waters ahead, we’re in now.


00:37:44.22 James Timpson:

But I actually think as a leader, being tested like that, and we had colleagues die of Covid, so you know I don’t say this with any satisfaction, but I’m pleased I was tested. I felt I’m fifty years old, I was forty-eight when that happened and I think to be tested as a leader in a time of crisis is a good thing because if you know you can cope with that you can cope with anything.


00:38:10.18 Andy Coulson:

What was your sticking to the values aside, what is the sort of James Timpson crisis management approach? How were you getting through the days? Very small number of people around you, presumably? Tight decision making. Fast decision making, I assume. I mean, how were you sort of managing the day. Just give us a flavour of the approach that you take.


00:38:30.09 James Timpson:

Okay, so up early because I couldn’t sleep. Look on the news, finding anything positive about Covid I could find. So we had three strategies. The first one was my senior team communication-wise. Every morning at nine o’clock it was actually before we started doing Zoom, it was a conference call of my top fifteen leaders from every different part of the business, on a call we’d have a Covid update. A family colleague’s got Covid from our HR director, and then everyone would go through what they’re doing in their business, what’s happening, what’s happening. And it was all about how are colleagues, how are costs, how can we save money? So we’d have that call every morning at nine. And then it would be obviously during the day you’d have your various jobs to do from there.


00:39:15.00 James Timpson:

Then I’d do a daily video to colleagues, the whole business, over WhatsApp to all the colleagues to update where we were in the business being really honest with everybody. Telling them how much money we have in the bank today, how much money we lost the previous week, that we’re paying everybody, that this is what we’re doing, that we’re making redundancies and so on. And then it would be basically because the only income we could get was from the government, from furlough from grants and so on, we got a small team together of our finance colleagues to say right we are now the income team from the government. We need to find every way that we can get these furlough payments in fast, we do it all absolutely by the book but we get everything in we can. So that’s basically what we did. We become in survival mode just get the money in.


00:40:05.00 James Timpson:

And it’s only when you see your sales fall through the floor do you really realise what your costs are, what you’re paying for. So every day, every invoice that came through, I hadn’t seen an invoice for years in the business, but every day we’d see every invoice, go through. Why are we paying for that? Water coolers in shops? We don’t need water coolers, we don’t need this, we don’t need that. Why are we paying for this? We’ve got fans there we’re not using. Sell those cars, sell those trucks. We had some properties, it was when everybody wanted to live in the countryside so we had a couple of houses in the countryside. Sell them, just get any money in. So basically became that kind of financial management but also trying to stay calm in front of my colleagues because they could see what was happening they could see what was happening.


00:40:52.11 James Timpson:

And then the game became get the shops open as soon as we can. And we were lucky because launderettes and dry cleaning went on the list of essential retailers that could open. And so we spoke to supermarkets where our shops were in supermarkets, and said ‘listen we can do this now so can we open the Timpson shops?’ We weren’t allowed to open our Snappy Snaps or Max Spielmann shops but we opened the Timpson shops and the Johnsons the Cleaners shops. So at least when we had like a positive story even though the sales were like 70% down we could start trading again.


00:41:24.08 James Timpson:

And then we bought all the colleagues back so everyone would do two days a week to get back in the swing of things. And then we had to overcome two colleagues passing away both of whom I knew very well. So that was a very difficult time for everybody. And we just got more shops open and we weren’t losing as much money and the grants started coming in and we could sort of see light at the end of the tunnel. It actually became quite fun then because you felt you were sort of battling against everything to save the business.


00:41:55.16 Andy Coulson:

Those colleagues deaths aside, when you now look back at that period, what was the darkest moment?


00:42:05.07 James Timpson:

Feeling helpless. What I felt was that I was helpless and I felt it was unfair. And it was unfair because other business were having the time of their lives. Even though it was difficult and there were masks everywhere and Covid issues. But the government were basically giving a free pass to, a certain amount to our competitors, to make more money than they’d ever made before. All your competition goes and I just felt it was unfair. And you know whilst I’ve got friends who were in that position, who had an amazing run, and they were although they found it stressful how do you find extra colleagues and supply chain issues and so on, it’s a big difference making money and losing money when you don’t think it’s your fault at all.


00:42:55.10 Andy Coulson:

Yeah, were you taking the stresses home or have you always been able to separate them?


00:43:00.22 James Timpson:

I think if you spoke to my kids and my wife it was stressful. You don’t sleep, you’re a bit edgy. Even when you’re having dinner the phone’s going, fine you leave dinner and answer the call because this could be the next brick to hit you in the head or the next opportunity to get you out of jail. And it was a combination of you’re just wired, you’re on it. You know you’re trying to sort of be that swan that’s gliding across the lake but actually paddling like mad underneath. And in these dark moments there’s humour as well. Parish, my finance director, we’ve worked together for eighteen years and he’s fantastic and we sort of laughed about how easy it is to lose so much money when we tried so long to make little bits of money all the time. Just it all to go out the door in a matter of weeks is a pretty hard to see.


00:43:55.12 Andy Coulson:

I mean, I say did you take the stresses home, of course you were at home, like the rest of us.


00:43:59.24 James Timpson:

So then I’d would make any excuse to go to the office. It was actually wonderful because there was no traffic and for those of your listeners who live anywhere near Manchester, you know we’re in Wythenshawe, travelling is horrendous in the morning, driving straight in. And there was a core team of six of us and Gail doing the payroll, Lloyd our HR and finance colleagues. And it became a little sort of band of brothers. And we were there and we fighting to keep the doors open and it actually became a weirdly enjoyable process of saving the business. But I wouldn’t say I was the best father or husband in that time, just because I wasn’t present, mentally present.


00:44:41.21 Andy Coulson:

Yeah, your brother, Edward, of course is a politician, a former minister. We mentioned him earlier. We campaigned together, in fact, in the 2010 election in the famous Crew and Nantwich by-election. You were never tempted by politics? At least I’m assuming you’ve never been tempted by politics?


00:44:59.06 James Timpson:

No, I run a mile.


00:45:00.02 Andy Coulson:

Just not for you?


00:45:02.12 James Timpson:

No, I’m not a political person. I don’t feel… I love running businesses and organisations, I don’t want to run a country. But I find it bloody frustrating sometimes when policies don’t go, aren’t the way I feel they should be. But no, I’ve never wanted to get involved. I mean, I don’t like the idea of having to play to someone else’s tune and say things I don’t necessarily believe in. I’d find that very difficult.


00:45:38.11 Andy Coulson:

So you’re not political but you have, outside of that very demanding job that you’ve just described, fully immersed yourself in one of the most complicated, frustrating, dysfunctional areas of public policy in criminal justice. You’re the Chairman of the Prison Reform Trust, among many other roles that you have in this world, where you do some brilliant work, much of it focused on getting those with prison experience, as we now put it, back into work. And that’s the fundamental belief that you have and you touched on this earlier in the younger context but it holds for all ex-prisoners, that by providing that route from prison to work we will reduce the recidivism and start to break that generational chain that’s so very obvious in our prisons. Have I got that about right? Is that the core focus for you?


00:46:37.02 James Timpson:

Yeah, I’ve got two massive frustrations. One is the way that the prison system works to make it very difficult for people to leave prison and get a job. And the other is the way society sees people who leave prison and who have other challenges in life. They don’t give them that opportunity that they should do and that’s what really gets me out of bed in the morning and makes me want to do this.


00:47:04.06 Andy Coulson:

And you put your money where your mouth of course, because we all know Timpson’s give hundreds of jobs to ex-prisoners. But again, a strategy that you believe is good for business but is also just good. There’s a lot of risk in that though, James. And this is coming across, I’m sure, to anyone I knew it before because I’ve been lucky enough to meet you a few times prior to us recording this podcast, but anyone listening to this I’m sure is now picking it up; you have an infectious optimism. But there’s a lot of risk in that as well, isn’t there? Because it doesn’t always work. It’s a trust-based philosophy that you have. And on that basis it doesn’t always work. How is it that you or how do you handle those disappointing moments?


00:47:49.22 James Timpson:

There are disappointing moments. I mean we’ve had, in the early days, I’ve been recruiting people from prison for eighteen years now and in the early days I didn’t really know what I was doing, I was making a load of mistakes. So I was recruiting people who were the wrong kind of people, I was believing their bullshit stories, they weren’t ready for it. And no one in the business knew what I was doing and my customers certainly didn’t know what I was doing. You know when I was employing armed robbers and burglars and they were cutting keys for your house when you went into our shops. So you know when you talk about trust, there was a lot of trust there.


00:48:27.15 James Timpson:

And the probably the lowest moment was when I recruited a guy in Belfast who had done, he hadn’t been part of a murder but was there at the scene. He’d got a very long sentence and we took him on when he was released. And when he was working in one of our shops he served the sister of the man who was murdered. And that made me question lots of things. And then it got in the papers, headline in The Daily Star and another one was Killer Cobbler Cuts Keys. And you know the easy thing to do is to dismiss them or whatever but no, that’s… so in fact he still works for us now, he’s doing really well. But the system, society let him down and I didn’t want to be another person who let him down.


00:49:29.19 James Timpson:

But some people we recruit from prison do let themselves down. But it’s far less likely they’re going to let themselves down than the people who we recruit from normal channels. Because the people you recruit from prison, the way we do it, are the most loyal and honest people we have in the business. But when it goes wrong it goes really wrong. And in the early days we had a number of cases where it just went horribly wrong. But you learn your lessons from that.


00:50:01.12 Andy Coulson:

So what do you do? Give me an idea of how that applies in practical terms? How do you protect the business in those circumstances. Because it’s impossible to know, isn’t it? It is trust.


00:50:21.12 James Timpson:

I mean there are a number of ways you can look at it. Which is you know when I sort of came out that we were recruiting people from prison there were probably have been a number of customers who said, I’m never going in one of those shops again because I don’t want to be served by someone who’s done time. But bizarrely and this was never the intention, more people now come to us because we recruit people from prison. In fact a number of customers think that everyone in the business was recruited from prison.


00:50:47.01 James Timpson:

But the challenge is around how do you balance that risk of knowing who you’re employing from prison and also the risk of not knowing who you’re employing who hasn’t been to prison? Because when you recruit someone from prison you know everything about them. Their CV is all there to see. Just Google their name and put prison in and it all comes up. And then when they come for an interview they have their CV and they have their statements and everything they’ve done to talk through why they’re now ready for a job.


00:51:25.18 James Timpson:

If I was to go to recruit anybody from the street who applied to us, I’d never do a background check. I wouldn’t know if they’re a paedophile a sex offender, someone’s who’s committed lots of crimes but never been caught. And that happens to all of us as employers. So I actually feel bizarrely, recruiting people from prison is less risky than recruiting people who haven’t been to prison.


00:51:48.10 Andy Coulson:

The sort of campaign that you’re at the forefront of and have been for many years, is around this kind of conundrum off whether or not we are, as a society, going to accept that people who come out of prison have a right to work. So when I was in prison, as you know we’ve talked about this before James, but I was in Belmarsh and then I was in an open prison and in that open prison I was working in the education department. And I was helping offenders who were getting very close to their release dates after very long sentences in prison, and I was helping them write their CVs and doing sort of Dragons Den, sort of like job presentations, fascinating, fascinating work.


00:52:36.05 Andy Coulson:

But without doubt the key question, amongst that group of individuals, is should I be honest about my criminal past? Or can I find some other way of keeping it buried, of maybe changing my name or…? And of course if you’ve been in a situation that had media coverage and you don’t have too much choice because you could do that Google search that you just described. But of course for the vast majority of people their sentences actually, or their cases, don’t end up in the papers, might be in the local paper but vast majority of them don’t make it to the media.


00:53:12.17 Andy Coulson:

So you know there is still this feeling in the prison population that the best way forward is to just pretend it never happened. And of course the more that that happens the less likely we are to end up having that conversation that you’re trying that you’re trying and do have, on an almost I suspect a daily basis, about the value of ex-offenders and the contribution that they can make. And much more importantly the part that all that will play in breaking this generational link between, particularly male prisoners obviously whose son’s then end up in prison. Because the number of kids who end up in prison whose dads were in prison, obviously as you know, is depressingly high.


00:53:59.18 Andy Coulson:

So that’s the battle that you seem to be waging, is that the public conversation about this has got to change. How optimistic are you about that right now? How do you feel the momentum is heading? In the right direction?


00:54:20.22 James Timpson:

Very much so and although I’m an optimist when it comes to prisons I’m a realist. But it is much better news. And whilst Covid has been devastating in so many ways, it’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to prison recruitment because so many employers are desperate for people. They are so desperate nowadays that they will even consider recruiting amazing people from prison. So that has been just this tidal wave of employers knocking on prison doors, to the extent now that we’ve actually got more than enough employers who want to employ people from prison. We just haven’t got the prisons geared up to match those leaving prison with the jobs.


00:55:01.21 James Timpson:

So I mean, when I was first doing it I think there was us, Greggs, Halfords and a couple of other recycling companies and that was it, who were prepared to put their marker down on this. But now it seems to be that the net has spread so far that it’s sort of become part of every company’s diversity strategy. You don’t just need to recruit people who come from diverse backgrounds, you need to also consider people from prison because if not you’re not diverse. You just look at the numbers, you’re not diverse if you specifically avoid people who have been to prison.


00:55:43.12 James Timpson:

I mean, one of the things, I was at a Ministry of Justice today and one of the things I’m delighted about, even in the Ministry of Justice have got 1,100 people with prison experience working full time in the Ministry of Justice. And you know they are a better organisation for it.


00:56:00.07 Andy Coulson:

Prisons are sort of crisis laboratories aren’t they? They’re very sort of emotional places filled with individual stories of crisis. Do you agree that the story-telling around prisons needs to change? That we need to… It comes back to what we were discussing earlier with you making a decision to take your eighteen year old daughter en route to university, where most parents would be thinking last thing I want to do on this day of joy, my daughter’s going to Durham the last thing I’m going to do is go to prison. You decide no, actually this is exactly what we’re going to do as a family, it’s exactly the right thing to do because you’re interested in the stories that are behind those walls. That’s what you’re saying, isn’t it, that you want your daughter to understand those stories? What more can we do really, I suppose, I ask the question as someone who’s interested in communications, what more can we do to try and tell those human stories, sort of demystify, explain that there’s invariably a crisis story that sits behind someone being in prison?


00:57:05.16 James Timpson:

The I think it’s a really good point, I mean, it’s about two years ago, I took Geordie Greg who was then the editor of The Daily Mail, into Brixton prison because it was always… Whenever I went to meet him people would say the MOJ would say, you can’t do that because what will The Daily Mail say? So I thought, right, I’ll write to the editor of The Daily Mail and say can I take you into a prison so you can see what it’s like and then you can judge whether the stories you are writing are right or not. And to his credit he said, yeah, fine. And after that visit I didn’t spot any stupid, silly stories in The Daily Mail about prison. You know lags and all this sort of stuff. Now he’s gone maybe things will change. In fact, if anything it’s The Sun who’s probably the worst culprits on that now.


00:57:50.20 James Timpson:

But by giving people the facts, these some of the prison documentaries are not helpful at all because they just rely on the drug infested wings with just dysfunctional remand wings and so on which is part of prison life but it’s not a normal part of prison life. But I think the more companies that employ people from prison means that the story, certainly from a business world, is changing and I think then it becomes more normalised. And when things become normal they’re not a story. And we want it to become sort of a bit boring. Oh you… everyone else does it, yes. So when it’s boring the media aren’t interested in it.


00:58:35.15 James Timpson:

But I do think that you know I can’t wait for the first chief exec if a FTSE 100 company to have a criminal record. That’d be fantastic. A premier league football manager who’s got a criminal record, fantastic. Because it can prove, you can prove to young people that even if you do have the odd setback in life it doesn’t mean you can’t achieve things. Because that’s what we’re doing, we’re just labelling young people with a future story that there’s no way that they can be successful in life if they’ve messed up. Because most people who go to prison are quite young. And they’ve got a whole life ahead of them.


00:59:11.11 Andy Coulson:

That’s right, and we should say James, because you and I have had this conversation in different ways and times, but you’re not saying that nobody should be in prison, that is not your view. If you are violent or if you are a dangerous individual prisons have their place, right? Your view, as I understand it, is that we just put far too many people into prison. It is the wrong answer for far too many people. That society surely can come up with a better answer than slamming someone behind a door.


00:59:36.02 James Timpson:

Yeah, we do two things wrong, we send too many people to prison and we send people to prison for too long. So let me take the first one. The people in the UK are no more naughty than they are in Holland. But Holland sends 20% of the people the number of people that we do to prison. And they have a much lower reoffending rate because people serve their sentence, which is less time anyway, in the community, they have a tag on. Instead of going to prison for three years they’ll have to do every other weekend for three years. And their summer holiday is spent in prison or it’s doing some community work or something like that.


01:00:12.12 James Timpson:

And the length of someone’s sentence is also completely wrong. And there is no evidence anywhere that says sentencing people to longer reduces their chance of committing more crime in the future. If anything it increases their likelihood of never being able to have a job, a loving relationship, find a house and become a normal, functioning part of society. So I mean, the average sentence is what, four years, six years for lots of normal crimes? Well, even ten years ago in the UK most of these sentences were half or a third of this now.


01:00:49.08 James Timpson:

So bizarrely fewer people are going to prison in the country but the reasons why the prisons are just getting fuller and fuller and we’re having to build more prisons is people are just there for longer. So people are sitting out their time, away from their families, not reading their kid bedtime stories and they’re just wasting time because it’s only really in the last year before they’re released that they really focus on employment, getting job-ready and their resettlement and we need people to serve less sentences.


01:01:22.00 Andy Coulson:

If you were, you’re not interested in politics, but if you did have your hands on the policy levers and you could do one thing tomorrow, what would it be?


01:01:33.09 James Timpson:

General or to do with justice?


01:01:35.12 Andy Coulson:

To do with justice.


01:01:37.03 James Timpson:

Okay, the easy one, I’d say instead of serving half your sentence to be released, I’d do it as a quarter.


01:01:42.12 Andy Coulson:

How do you think The Daily Mail would react to that?


01:01:45.12 James Timpson:

Not very well.


01:01:47.06 Andy Coulson:

Because that dynamic, that kind of… I hear what you’re saying about Geordie and The Mail’s attitude to your approach but the media play out is not just the tabloid press by the way, I mean it runs right the way through, right? It’s the BBC just as much.


01:02:04.07 James Timpson:



01:02:05.01 Andy Coulson:

But the kind of media conversation around prison and around rehabilitation, and I say all of this by the way as a former tabloid newspaper editor who ran plenty of stories that would, in the context of the conversation we’ve had, would have infuriated you. But obviously I’ve had an interesting experience along the way since. That’s part of the problem though, isn’t it?


01:02:29.09 James Timpson:



01:02:30.15 Andy Coulson:

Is that dynamic between the politicians and the media. Because there are no votes in prison reform.


01:02:36.24 James Timpson:

No, and there is no connection between the facts of prison and the impact it has on a prisoner and their families. And the answers that people give to polling and surveys on what people think should happen with crime and sentencing, there’s no connection. And that’s the problem because when manifestos are being developed the question is do you think we should be harder on criminals? Yes. Do you think they should go to prison for longer? Yes. Well, if I said to them let me show you the evidence that if we actually send them to prison for less time they’d be less likely to commit offences in the future. Do you think that’s a good idea? Yes. So there’s two ways of going about it but we should be dealing with the facts, not just emotions.


01:03:28.06 Andy Coulson:

Very good, James, thank you so much for this conversation. Really interesting, really helpful from so many different angles as well. And thank you for the work that you’re doing because I think it’s absolutely critical. I want to finish though by asking you for your crisis cures. These are three things, other than another person please, that you’ve kind of relied on during those difficult moments in your life.


01:03:58.15 James Timpson:

I don’t know whether they’re very good ones but they work for me. First one is breathing. Learning how to breathe. A lot of us don’t know how to breathe so I try hard, I’m not brilliant at it but I try hard to breathe, to be calm, to be thoughtful.


01:04:14.18 Andy Coulson:

Do you mediate? Is that part of it?


01:04:16.24 James Timpson:

So my mind’s too busy to meditate so I just try the breathing bit, that half works for me but that’s the next step. The next one is just physical exercise and we’re a peloton family. So half an hour, forty-five minutes on that, beating myself to try and hit some sort of ridiculous target, that’s what I try and do because I always feel better after that and completely forget about it. And the other is probably a combination of car rallies. So I know nothing about cars but I love Bristol Cars, so I go to car rallies with the kids or music festivals. When you’re dancing or you’re in an old car nothing seems to worry you.


01:04:57.14 Andy Coulson:

Splendid. James, thanks so much for joining us, as I say, a very valuable conversation and thank you for it.


01:05:04.05 James Timpson:

Cheers, thanks Andy.


01:05:06.05 Andy Coulson:

If you’ve enjoyed this episode please do give us a rating and a review, it really helps. And if you hit subscribe wherever you download your podcast from you’ll find loads more useful crisis conversations. You can also follow us on Instagram or Facebook our handle is @crisiswhatcrisispodcast. Thanks again for listening.




01:05:28.15 End of transcription