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John Caudwell

John Caudwell is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and lead businessman; Co-founder of Phones4U and Founder of Caudwell Children and Caudwell LymeCo. Born in Birmingham, raised and schooled in Stoke-on-Trent, John Caudwell’s traditional working class background has played a great part in his entrepreneurial successes. After opting for an apprenticeship with Michelin tyre company over doing A-levels, he worked for several years as an engineering manager, gaining an HNC in mechanical engineering whilst running a corner shop and mail order business at the same time.

John’s most visible business legacy commenced in 1987 when, after noticing a gap in the market for the newly emerging mobile phone, he went on to build the UK’s largest independent distributor of mobile phones, Caudwell Group and Phones4U. At its height, Caudwell Group sold 26 phones a minute, employed 10,000 people and was turning over £2.25 billion. With over 20 years of success in the industry, John sold the business in 2006 to focus his time and resources on his philanthropic interests.

Caudwell Children, founded by John in the year 2000 to improve the lives of disabled or desperately ill children, converts every £1 donated to it into more than £2, making it one of the most efficient children’s charities in the world. It helps over 5000 new children annually and has been described as the national charity with a local heart.

John has used his influence and experience to aid many other charities such as the NSPCC, The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, Marie Curie, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Great Ormond StreetHospital. In 2013 he became one of the first Britons to sign up for Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, offering half of his wealth to charity during his lifetime.

John also has a huge passion for the environment and ecological reform. Believing strongly in research and investment into new and existing forms of renewable energy, he advocates an 80% switch from fossil fuel-generated energy by the year 2020.

John is an avid enthusiast of both ski-ing and cycling. First taking an interest in his late 30s, it is his determination and ambition that has allowed him to excel in such demanding pastimes.

The award of Honorary Doctor of the University recognises John’s exceptional entrepreneurial success and philanthropic work over the years. It also acknowledges his commitment and drive to passionately give back to his local community.

Photo of John Caudwell

John Caudwell was bestowed the award in 2016

I have always admired Staffordshire University for their role in educating and developing a new generation of young adults. In fact my own engineering qualifications were gained at Staffordshire University and being here to accept this award is almost like coming home. It has been my long-term passion to give children the best possible life and I know this award will go some way to highlighting how important this is.

John Caudwell