Cecil M Yuill started work as a young chimney sweep before going on to build a hugely successful construction company – throughout his life he was committed to offering others the educational opportunities that he missed out on.
This tradition has been carried on by his son and grandson and this year Teesside University and the Yuill Foundation celebrate 20 years of the family’s generosity to the University to help young people on their educational journey.
Edward Yuill, 36, is now Managing Director of the family’s group of companies including Mowden Park Estate Company Limited and Northumbrian Land Limited, and he is delighted that the foundation that was set up when his grandfather died is still helping students today to boost their careers.
Over the last two decades, Edward and his father Phillip before him, who is an honorary graduate of the University, have overseen donations to the Teesside in excess of £140,000 pounds – £7,000 a year.
“My grandfather didn’t have an education; he worked his way up building his own company without the benefit of any schooling. It made him very keen to help other people access education.”
When Cecil died mourners wanted to give something in his name and that was the start of the foundation and the connection to Teesside University – the closest higher education institution to the Hartlepool-based company.
In 2006 the Yuill family sold the construction company set up by Cecil in 1927 and moved into property and land management via Mowden Park Estate Company Limited and Northumbrian Land Limited, headed by Edward’s father Phillip. Edward took over as MD in 2009 and is the third generation Yuill to act as trustee within the Foundation.
Edward, who is dyslexic, left school without A levels and chose not to go to University: “I got a G in my French GCSE – I did ask if it stood for Good,” he grins.
Instead he went to Hartlepool College and studied for a HNC in Building Studies and a HNC in Business Management at Newcastle College while working as a trainee technician in the family firm. Then he worked his way up the company ladder: “It wasn’t always easy with the family name,” he smiles. “But I am a rugby player so I am used to taking it on the chin!”
It’s a good job because after selling the family business, Edward and his father steered their current businesses through the tough times of recession. The company still has its headquarters in Hartlepool: “And there we will stay,” Edward vows, “it is important that the company is locally based. We have a big commitment to the Tees Valley even though we do now carry out some projects further afield.”
Edward lives in Newcastle with his wife Joanna and two young daughters – Lydia, four, and Emmeline ‘Emmy’ who is two: “Now I have my own children I too value the importance of education and I would like them to take advantage of all it has to offer as they grow up.
“It is also therefore important to me to carry on my grandfather’s legacy, the family legacy and help to give other young people a chance. It’s fantastic when they let you know what it means to them to have received a prize and how it impacts on their lives.”
The annual donation from the Yuill Foundation supports a Chair of Construction post which is currently Professor Nashwan Dawood with the aim of constantly improving the construction industry. Professor Dawood, Director of Teesside University’s Technology Futures research institute, is a leading authority in project construction management and carries out internationally acclaimed research within the industry.
There are also four student prizes – three awarded to engineering graduates from the School of Science & Engineering and an overall Student of the Year prize in any discipline – these prizes are awarded during Graduation which takes place this year from Monday November 24 to Tuesday December 2.