Mark Telford, Managing Director, Forth, based in Maryport, Cleator Moor and Barrow-in-Furness

My biggest inspiration

I had never considered this before but my dad James, or Jim as everybody knows him, is definitely my biggest inspiration in life. He is 88 now and I think about how hard his life has been as the eldest of nine children, and how he has worked his fingers to the bone for his family and kids. His whole ethos has been that you don't get anything for nothing and you have to work hard to get things in life. His desire to always work hard and provide for his family was instilled in me at a young age and that is why I’ve been working since I was 13, getting a milk round and paper round when still at school. I remember one year around that age chopping a railway sleeper down into sticks and selling them to shops so the family had extra money. Another thing passed down by my dad, and his dad before that, I used to collect holly and fern so he could make about 600 holly wreaths to sell to local shops so he could pay for our Christmases.

In the 1980s, it was difficult for everybody but especially when you have four kids and only one income, and I remember I would have to wear clothes and shoes passed down from my siblings and other families - I vividly remember wearing one of my sister’s blazers at school which was more pink than red and that was tough! But I was inspired by my dad to work hard back then to make sure I could buy my own nice clothes or trainers for school, and I have no doubts that this is why I’m in business myself today.

I drive a…

Lamborghini Aventador - or more accurately, I rarely drive it. As a child growing up, I had a picture of a Lamborghini on my bedroom wall and I aspired to one day work towards owning one. I am now on to my third one and I view this as a huge achievement ticked off the list, even though I only drive it on the odd occasion in the summer.

Who would you invite to your dream meal? (Six people, alive or dead)

Thomas Telford, Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Prof. Brian Cox, Ricky Gervais and Greta Thunberg. My family was brought up to believe Thomas Telford, who was one of the world’s greatest engineers who built bridges, canals and roads, is the brother of my sixth great grandfather and he would be in great company with the others who would bring so much knowledge and wisdom to the table. Churchill is a great leader but may be controversial, Freddie Mercury lived a high-octane life to the max, Ricky Gervais is a comedy genius who is straight to the point with his views, Prof Cox’s knowledge and insights on the universe and its workings would be amazing, and Greta Thunberg’s views would be interesting - but very different to some of the other guests!

My favourite TV programme is?

Car SOS. It’s a show which sees the presenters visit a person who has always had a dream to fix up an old car but never got round to it, and that is usually because they have gone through tough times or do selfless tasks for the community. I have a real passion for cars and all things retro, but the main reason I love the show is about the sense of community it promotes which is something which aligns with my ethos and that of Forth.

Most memorable meal or favourite food?

It may be a controversial choice but it would be ‘Panacalty’. The dish is real poor man’s food made of fried bits of bacon with onions, and layered with sliced potatoes. We call it Panacalty where I’m from in Frizington but my wife Nicola, who is from Broughton near Cockermouth, calls it ‘Fatherless’. It’s my understanding that the term ‘Fatherless’ historically derives from the absence of the father in the household so therefore the meals needed to be as cheap as possible because families were hard up.

My idea of a great weekend involves...

Heading to the Isle of Man with the family. I have a boat berthed at Whitehaven Harbour and, whenever the weather allows, we just jump in and can be in Douglas within an hour and a half. I find the Isle of Man is extremely relaxed and laid back, and everybody is really friendly. It’s a place steeped in history too so there’s so much to discover there.

Best advice you’ve ever been given

“You can’t pay enough for your boots, your mattress or your accountant.” As the old saying goes, “you’re either in your boots or in your bed”, so you need to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. The last bit is a nod to how important it is to be comfortable with the person who is looking after your finances too!

Favourite pub, café or restaurant in Cumbria

The Harbour Master, Whitehaven. It isn’t a big pub, but it’s local, on the harbour and the owner is giving it a good go and I always want to support local ventures like this.

Favourite walk in Cumbria

I don’t think it’s a documented walk as such, but the top of Iron Crag near Ennerdale is my favourite. At the very top are the remains of a plane crash, I think from the 1940s, and when you get there you get stunning views of the Ennerdale valley and Gosforth and Wasdale. The route and history of the plane wreckage is very little known now, but there’s many times the team at Forth do the 20-mile round trip there to raise money for charity and it’s a great team building exercise.

Best view in Cumbria

The best view for me is down Ullswater, as far as you can see. There’s a few famous pictures of the scenery because it’s the nicest, most peaceful lake.

What was the first piece of music you ever bought?

Hole In My Shoe by Neil from The Young Ones! I would have been about 13 or 14 and I wasn’t allowed to watch The Young Ones because of its adult content, but being a bit of a mischievous teenager, my brothers and I used to sneak to watch it. It was the programme everyone talked about at school so I just had to watch it and, when this record was brought out, I rushed out to buy it.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know

I don’t like fish. There’s a phobia called ichthyophobia which is an irrational fear of fish, and I won’t go in any water if I think there’s any fish in there. It’s like a morbid curiosity as I can look at them, but I couldn’t put my hand in the water if the fish was in there. What makes it stranger is I used to eat fish in my late teens but something triggered, and I don’t know what it is.

Early riser or enjoy a lie-in?

Definitely an early riser. Once I’m awake, I’m up and out. I’m never in bed past 7am, whether on a weekday or on holiday. I have never used an alarm clock since I left Sellafield in 1993 but I’m always up by 7am - I don’t know how but it just happens.

How important is social media to you and what channels do you use?

I rarely post anything on my personal social media accounts, but I do like a laugh watching the videos on Tik Tok. What I like about it is that it recommends videos you would like based on what you’ve watched, and I love it for the laughs.

Apart from a mobile phone, which piece of technology has improved your life in the last couple of years?

It has to be the Ring doorbell. An 8ft fence surrounds my house so being able to open the gates and let delivery drivers in to drop my parcels off - no matter where I am in the world - is amazing technology.