Join us as we mark 100 years in 2017 by celebrating #OurStars – the staff of Neill & Brown past and present, our customers and those who have shaped our home city of Hull. Find out about our people and our journey right here!

Our green fingered Peter

Sales administrator Mark Jardine interviews Neill & Brown’s CEO, Peter Brown, and finds out about 'straight line mowing therapy'..... As Neill & Brown celebrates 100 years in business, the third generation Brown and CEO, Peter Brown, marks 52 years with the family firm. During that time he has worked his way from being the office boy, on to customs clerk, before becoming the MD and then CEO. I caught up with Peter to chat about what he gets up to when he is not working to prepare Neill & Brown for the next 100 years. It’s understandable that as a ‘man at the top’, Peter likes to relax whenever time will allow. As well as being a keen gardener, he is also known for spending time in the kitchen making pickles and preserves made from his produce. In contrast to the more creative side of gardening, he’s also a stickler for detail. He tells me, “I find mowing the lawn very therapeutic. It is very satisfying to see straight lines in the grass!” Peter is very keen on the arts and was the first person to pledge money, through Neill & Brown, to the help the city’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2017. It has certainly been an exciting year so far, and Peter says, “I am pleased to see how UK City of Culture 2017 has benefited our city throughout the year and how this will leave a legacy for years to come. “It’s incredible to see the impact that this year has had on Hull’s profile, with our city getting worldwide recognition.” As the head of a global logistics organisation, who also has an office based in Hong Kong, Peter tells me that he has been very fortunate to have seen a lot of the world, “I love the Far East for its food and people, but recently I visited one of our sons who is currently living in Australia and I’d like to spend some more time exploring there. “But as long as I am with my best friend – my wife Moira – it doesn’t matter where I am. Wherever we are we always have a laugh and an occasional glass of wine!” It’s no surprise then that when I asked Peter to describe his perfect weekend, he said: “I would spend the day gardening on a Saturday, followed by a meal out with friends in the evening. Sunday morning I would have a round of golf before cooking Sunday dinner and having all the kids at home around the dinner table … perfect!” Star Likes: Music: I like lots of different types of music from Tamla Motown to Brass bands and El Divo. Food:  There is very little I will not eat or try, although on business trips to China I have been offered some very unusual food, but do prefer fish. Show:  I have seen The Phantom of the Opera a few times over the years and always enjoy it. TV:  I enjoy watching ‘Heartbeat’ on the TV as it reminds me of that era. It was a great time in my life – everything was so different then. Without any responsibilities, life was more carefree, but we all have to grow up. Books:  I only really read on holidays but I prefer WW2 fiction and mysteries Sport:   Playing golf and walking Hobby:   Gardening, cooking and golf. Not many people know that I used to be a train spotter! (They do now!) To finish, tell us about anyone you would like to meet, past or present. I’ve met Lord Digby Jones. I bought and read his book ‘Fixing Britain’; it’s a shame our politicians have not taken more notice of what he said. And I would like to have met Margret Thatcher as she seemed like one hell of a woman. This obviously will not popular with everyone, but I think she did a fantastic job for the country at the time.  

Our Martin and his Hull hotspots!

  Responsible for overseeing a mammoth 365 days of artworks and art events across every inch of our city. Name: Martin Green Director of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 Star likes HULL: It has to be the refurbished Fruit Market and Humber Street in particular. It’s got a great new vibe about it and is packed at weekends. MUSIC: I saw the Holy Moly Ziggy Stardust gig at Hull City Hall a few weeks ago – definitely one to remember. FOOD: ‘Marrakech Avenue’ on Princes Avenue is a favourite. FILM: ‘Arrival’ was my favourite film of the year. PLACE: East Park is perfect for a relaxing afternoon.  If your wishes could be granted, what would you ask for? That this year turns out to be one of great change for the city and that the change continues for years to come. Which celebrity would you like to meet? I met Jenny and Lee from Gogglebox, a dream fulfilled! The funniest things you've seen? The Hypocrite at Hull Truck, raucous and divine! Describe your ideal weekend. A quiet morning after a long week, a walk around East Park and a cocktail at Bar 82. What three things would you like with you on a desert island? A box set of Game of Thrones and therefore a laptop to watch it on. Perhaps a friend as it might get a bit lonely. Who do you most admire? I long for the return of President Obama. What is your earliest memory? Playing in the garden at home in Essex with my two brothers. I think there was a scooter involved. If you could go back in time, where would you go? To New York in the 70s. What was your most embarrassing moment? There have been many I'm afraid, I'm rather good at embarrassing myself, especially when lots of people are watching.

Our Emily is hoping for afternoon tea with the Queen..

"I would love to go to Buckingham Palace for afternoon tea, a gossip and to ask her some questions about her everyday life." Question and answers with Emily Name – Emily Wilson Job title – Warehouse administrator A little bit about yourself... Born and bred in Hull. After leaving school I went straight into work and became a qualified hairdresser before changing careers. My favorite thing is going out at the weekend either on the marina or in the avenues area of Hull; drinking cocktails and dancing with my friends.  Star likes MUSIC: I have such a varied taste; I like anything from Take That to Kings of Leon to One Direction, having seen them all in concert. But I LOVE Christmas songs; my Christmas albums come out the minute we hit November! HOBBY: I go to Tommy Coyle’s boxfit class 4 to 5 times a week with a few friends, is that classed as a hobby? Also  I’m a bit of a loser when it comes to a good boxset. Once I get hooked my social life goes on hold until it’s finished, I’m currently in the middle of Prison Break and I am obsessed! FOOD: I love to try new places and foods, especially tapas. El Toro on Princes Avenue is one of my favorites. But if it’s home food, it has to be a fish finger sandwich, so simple yet so effective. FILM: Harry Potter without a doubt! SHOW: I’ve seen a few West End shows, including: Billy Elliott, Jersey Boys, Wicked and Mamma Mia. I LOVE A MUSICAL. PLACE: In the UK, it has to be London, especially at Christmas. Outside the UK, Ibiza, having been a few times with friends I have a lot of memories there! One place I would love to go to is Australia. And, finally, two questions to finish …. Which celebrity would you like to meet? The Queen. I would love to go to Buckingham Palace for afternoon tea, a gossip and to ask her some questions about her everyday life. Failing that, Kendall Jenner; just to see if she really does have the perfect life. If you could go back in time, where would you go?             Knowing what I know now, I would go back to secondary school. They truly were the best days.

It’s the playboy billionaire lifestyle for Our Jack!

"Well I’d like to be filthy rich. Enough to help all those close to me, whilst also allowing me to live a playboy billionaire lifestyle similar to that of Bruce Wayne." Name: Jack Kendall Job title: Transport Coordinator A little bit about yourself... I’ve been working at Neill and Brown for 5 years now. I left college to join the operations team and very recently made the move upstairs to the Portable Movements department. Although at times the work can be very challenging here, the people really do make it a great place to work.  Star likes HULL: The city has changed massively over the past 10 years. Once voted one of the worst places to live in the country, it has taken a turn for the better. All that the City of Culture has brought has been brilliant. Hull is a vibrant beacon of diversity and it seems people’s opinion of a once hopeless place has been changed. It’s very encouraging to see and it makes me very proud of my city! MUSIC: I’ll list to anything and everything from the Eagles to Oasis. Although I think chart music is the scourge of the earth. HOBBY: I try and keep active and ‘try’ is used very loosely, managing a couple of games of football here and there. The thought of going to the gym puts enough strain on me for it to be considered exercise and when I do manage to go it leaves me barely ambulatory. So perhaps, if we’re being honest, my hobbies consist of eating and watching too much TV. FOOD: Yes! FILM: Quentin Tarantino’s films are up there for me so I would say ‘Reservoir Dogs’ or ‘Pulp Fiction’. SHOW: There are literally too many to list. Having nearly “completed” Netflix I don’t think I could choose. BOOK: Reading isn’t really my forte these days, Harry Potter is always a classic but at 23 I should probably think about reading some grown up books. And, finally, two questions to finish …. If your wishes could be granted, what would you ask for?                You know the old saying, “money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it buys you Ferraris and you never see a sad person in a Ferrari”? Well I’d like to be filthy rich. Enough to help all those close to me, whilst also allowing me to live a playboy billionaire lifestyle similar to that of Bruce Wayne. Which celebrity would you like to meet?  Sean Bean. He’s a proper Yorkshire man, and I can’t think of anyone else I would rather have a pint with.

Questions and answers with Our Rita the traveller..

"I have travelled around the world, living in Malaya, Singapore, Germany, England, Wales & Scotland." Name: Rita Miles Job title: Sales Ledger & Credit Control A little bit about yourself... I have been at Neill & Brown nearly 15 years. Due to my family being in the forces, I have travelled around the world, living in Malaya, Singapore, Germany, England, Wales & Scotland. I now live in Market Weighton, where I have settled for the last 30 years. I have one daughter, Louise, who lives in Leeds with her partner, Kris, with my two grandchildren, Roxanne and Jackson. Star likes HULL: It’s been nice to see a lot of visitors in Hull for the City of Culture. I’ve seen a few of the attractions which have been amazing. FOOD: My favourite food is Chinese or Steak Dianne. MUSIC: I love 60s and 70s music and tend to have Magic FM & Gold FM on the radio and in the car. I also like Northern Soul and Motown music. I like to go to and watch live bands/singers when I get the chance. SPORT: I tend to watch sport rather than take part, but in my younger days I was in a netball team and took part in a badminton club. SHOW: I have been to see a few shows at the theatre, the most recent was Dirty Dancing. I have been to see the Buddy Holly story in York four times; I think you could say I enjoyed it! PLACE: One of my favorite places is Malta, where my mother was from; I have visited family over there several times now. And, finally, some questions to finish …. If your wishes could be granted, what would you ask for? A cure for cancer be found as I have lost family and friends with this dreadful illness, and a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Which celebrity would you like to meet? Enrique Iglesias and of course Richard Gere. What is your earliest memory? Playing on the beach with my family in Singapore and Malaya.

I’m proud to be from Hull

Name – Gary Robinson Job title – Sales Manager A little bit about yourself I’ve been married to Linda for 21 years and we have two sons aged 19 and 16. After leaving school, I decided I wanted to work in logistics; I had a relative who worked for a shipping company and I chose to follow him into the industry. Star likes Hull: I’m proud to be from Hull. The City of Culture has really put Hull on the map and is showing any doubters what a great place this is to live and work. Music: Queen, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay. Hobby: I like to keep fit. I run four times a week, including taking part in weekly Parkrun events on Saturday mornings. I’m a member of East Hull Harriers and completed the Hull marathon in 2012, only to learn later that the route was half a mile short! I’ve set myself the challenge of tackling another marathon in 2018 - hopefully that course will be measured correctly, because I’m not planning to do a third one…! Food: Tapas. The best tapas I’ve had was at a small restaurant in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote Show: I’m a big Queen fan. I was at the last concert they did, at Knebworth Park in August 1986. There were about 120,000 people there and it was an experience I’ll never forget. Book: Autobiographies, especially by sports personalities. Sport: Apart from running, I also enjoy swimming and cycling but will watch any sport. Place: Either New York (where we visited for my 40th birthday), or Antigua (where Linda and I were married), which were fantastic and hopefully we can revisit both. A bit closer to home, I love the Lake District. And, finally, two questions to finish …. Describe your ideal weekend: A weekend in the Lake District with my family. Long walks, followed by a visit to a pub for a meal and a couple of beers. Who do you most admire?  Alistair Brownlee (Double Olympic gold-medalist in the Triathlon) A person who is at the very top of his sport but remains a humble Yorkshireman with a sense of humour.    

We asked Mark Babych to be one of our stars!

"Hull is buzzing with life and confidence at the moment and I’m really excited by how this energy and positivity can continue building a great place to live," says Mark Name: Mark Babych Job title: Artistic Director - Hull Truck Theatre A little bit about yourself... I moved to Hull in 2013 with my family when I was appointed Artistic Director of Hull Truck Theatre. Prior to this I’d lived in Manchester for 16 years where I’d previously been Artistic Director of the Octagon Theatre, Bolton and had a busy freelance career juggling theatre, film, television and teaching. Star likes Hull: There are so many to mention; Humber Bridge, the Marina, Humber Street, Thieving Harrys, the Old Town pubs and Cultural sector. Hull is buzzing with life and confidence at the moment and I’m really excited by how this energy and positivity can continue building a great place to live, work and bring up a family. Place: Some of my favourite places include Cornwall, Robin Hoods Bay and the Inn at Whitewell, Lancashire. I love being by the coast and filling my lungs with fresh sea air – I find it’s a great way to relax and unwind – when I’m not by the coast I love getting out into great countryside and I’m particularly fond of The Inn at Whitewell as that’s where we had our wedding reception. And, finally, two questions to finish… If your wishes could be granted, what would you ask for? Good health and a bright and happy future for my daughter Which celebrity would you like to meet? Barrack Obama. He’s a charismatic inspirational leader who despite the things thrown at him remained dignified and committed to making the world a better place – one of the best orators ever to grace the world stage, his humanity and decency is sorely missed.

Our Simon loves entertaining his grandchildren…or at least trying to!

Questions and Answers with our UK manager for portable movements Name: Simon Winter Job title: UK Manager for Portable Movements A little bit about you... I moved to East Yorkshire with my partner Julie 32 years ago and settled happily into the Wolds Way of life, raising our four children and most recently celebrated the arrival of two bubbly and wonderful grand-daughters to further enhance our family life. Star Likes Hull: Hoping the re-generation of Hull culturally and commercially continues after the recent investments for the “City of Culture” Music: Anything from Rock to Classical depending on the mood of the moment…… Hobby: Entertaining my grandchildren or at least trying!!  Food: Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday with fresh lemon and sugar. Serves up some great memories for me, and it’s a timeless classic quick and easy to prepare. Films: Anything with Tom Hanks. Books: Too many to mention properly but a couple of classics that sit well in the memory are “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger and “For the Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway. Sport: Have always enjoyed a wide variety of sports but nowadays a round of golf in the sunshine hits the spot. Place: For a tranquil holiday spot Guernsey in the Channel Islands takes some beating – Good food, excellent beaches and friendly people. And, finally, two questions to finish …. If your wishes could be granted, what would you ask for? Health, happiness and success for all of my family in whatever they chose to do. Who do you most admire? Queen Elizabeth the Second. Calmness personified with dignity, style, wisdom and enduring graciousness in every situation.