The Bank of Brian
During the 1980s, Brian Perkins was a bank manager who helped many Sheffield entrepreneurs start their own businesses via the government’s Enterprise Allowance Scheme. Today, aged 93, he is a resident of Loxley Park
It does not seem much nowadays, but in the 1980s, £40 a week was generous seed money for unemployed people wanting to set up a business of their own.
Funding was provided under the Thatcher government’s Enterprise Allowance Scheme, which Loxley Park resident Brian Perkins helped administer in Sheffield.
He was manager of NatWest’s Meersbrook branch when the scheme got underway, and soon found himself seconded to offices on Ecclesall Road, where he and a retired executive of Whitbread Brewery began dispensing advice to would-be entrepreneurs who applied for the £40 a week allowance.
“They first had to provide a business plan,” says Brian, “and my role was to refine it with them, then make a recommendation as to whether or not they should be allowed onto the scheme. During my two years in that role, I helped start about 100 businesses in Sheffield, ranging from an estate agent who set up his own agency, to two men who became successful window cleaners.
Brian was born in Nottingham on September 8th, 1929. After leaving school, he started work as a clerk at his local branch of Westminster Bank (which in 1970 became NatWest) on an annual salary of £100.
Not long afterwards, he was called up for National Service, and served with the Royal Artillery for almost two years before resuming his banking career in Nottingham. He transferred to Sheffield in 1969, spending ten years as assistant manager at the Westminster Bank branch on Glossop Road. Next came managerships in Meersbrook, and Hillsborough Park – from where Brian retired at the age of 58. He still has a good head for figures, and has worked out exactly how long he was married to his late wife, Patricia, who passed away in 2015.
“Our marriage lasted 58 years, nine days, five-and-a-quarter hours,” he says. Brian and Patricia, who met and married in Nottingham, lived at Crimicar, Sheffield, for almost half a century. Their two sons and five grandchildren have been to see Brian at Loxley Park, where he has a one-bedroomed apartment. He is expecting visits from his two great-grandchildren.
“I came to Loxley Park after suffering one or two falls at home,” says Brian. “I feel much safer here because it’s a very well-organised place, with staff who are superb.”
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