Judi Bevan

The entrepreneur’s art: buying, building, selling

Judi Bevan meets David Young, who served in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet before chairing Cable & Wireless and creating his own successful private-equity business

Judi Bevan meets David Young, who served in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet before chairing Cable & Wireless and creating his own successful private-equity business

Few 75-year-olds supply and programme their grandchildren’s computers or keep in touch with the younger generation by text. But Lord Young of Graffham — the businessman who was parachuted into the cabinet as secretary of state for employment by Margaret Thatcher and later headed the Department of Trade and Industry — is one of a rare breed of septuagenarian technophiles.

‘I have owned a PC since 1977 and I bought the first Apple in this country,’ he claims, with the boyishly pleased air of someone who stole a march on his peers.

David Young bubbles with energy and mischief — and is not averse to stirring the pudding. Recently he criticised a ‘paid to fail’ £5 million-plus payout for Harris Jones, the former international chief executive of Cable & Wireless — the telecoms company Young chaired after resigning from government in 1989. He served as deputy chairman of the Conservative party until Thatcher was ousted in 1990.

These days, as well as running his own company, Young Associates, he chairs the council of University College London, where he graduated in law in 1954. He has turned round the finances of the Chichester Festival Theatre and is active in Jewish Care and Chaim, a charity caring for the families of cancer sufferers. When I met him he was about to set off for Bhutan to pursue his latest craze of photography, which he calls ‘my new career’. Two years ago he raised considerable sums of money for the Prince’s Trust by selling a collection of his moody black and white photographs of the Antarctic at a Cork Street gallery.

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