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Sir Richard Needham’s ambition has always been to stand up for business in both Parliament and politics. He started a packaging design company with three friends when he was 23 and went on to grow it into a silk screen, litho printing and laminating business before becoming a Member of Parliament.
From 1985-1992 Richard Needham was the Minister responsible for redesigning and rebuilding Ireland’s shattered towns and cities.
He is widely recognised throughout Northern Ireland as the man responsible for turning round and regenerating both the North’s infrastructure and economic base.
In 1992 Richard Needham was promoted to Minister of Trade and became Michael Heseltine’s Deputy. Over three years he overhauled and reinvigorated the whole of Britain’s export strategy. He is accepted in Whitehall as Britain’s most successful Minister of Trade since the War. In recognition of his work in Northern Ireland and at the DTI he was made a Privy Counsellor in 1994 and knighted in 1997.
Since leaving politics he has become involved in a number of businesses both large and small. He was international Director at GEC plc from 1995-1997, Meggitt Plc from 1997-2002, Chairman of the London Heart Hospital for five years and Biocompatibles Plc for six years together with a number of other public companies.
He was Director of Dyson for 16 years and Deputy Chairman for four of them. He was largely responsible for the development of the Company’s overseas sales operations in Europe, the US and the Far East, particularly Japan. He was Chairman of Avon Rubber for five years during which time the shares rose from a low of 25p to over £7! He has been a director of NEC Europe for 18 years and is now Chairman of Rose Petroleum plc, a director of Rank plc, Adaptive Modules and Smarta.
He is President of the British Exporters’ Association and continues informally to advise the British Government on trade promotion matters. Richard has written two books, is an honourary doctor of laws at the University of Ulster and an adviser to the President of Colombia on the peace process there. He was appointed Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and silver Star by the Emperor of Japan.
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