Sheffield is a poorer place today for the passing of entrepreneur and all-round good man Arnold Johnson.
‘Arnold who?’ you might say, but when you read his story in today’s paper or online you’ll appreciate that Arnold was the classic Sheffield man who showed some get-up-and-go to better his own life and others.
After playing his part in the second world war Arnold had a meteoric rise from the pollution of Sheffield’s industrial east end to become managing director at GR-Stein.
The firm became known as Hepworth Refractories in 1982.
In his pomp Arnold employed more than 10,000 staff, in South Yorkshire, Scotland, Cheshire, Spain, Belgium and the USA.
And he wasn’t just all about business because Arnold helped raise £500,000 for premature baby incubators at the Jessop Hospital and £2million for ExtraCare Brunswick Village Care Home.
We are often asked to find inspiration from somewhere.
Who inspires us? What do they do to make us want to do the very best we can?
With Arnold we don’t have to look very far.
A son of the city he worked his way to the top and then enjoyed the fruits of his success by rubbing shoulders with golfing professionals on the lush fairways of Gleneagles and jet-setting across the globe.
Was Arnold a one-off or could we all be like him?
I’d like to think that we can all show his ambition and drive.
He had a dream and he worked night and day to make it a reality. However, everyone has to live their life their own way.
And as Richard, Arnold’s son, said: “He was a one-off, a totally modern man who only looked to the future.
“He wanted a better world than he’d grown up in for his family and everyone in general and had a deep sense of duty and social conscience.”
There are still plenty of Arnolds out there in our region.
Sheffield has always had a reputation for talented people making their own way in the world.
It is hard work, and in recent years the economic problems have caused many previously strong businesses to go to the wall.
But Arnold’s story is still inspirational.
There will never be another Arnold Johnson but there will be people with his drive and energy forging their own path. And we should praise them for it.