The Shaw Trust award recognises businesses that offer training and career opportunities to young people. Fossit and Thorne’s John Shelton now owns the chain of seven tyre and auto centres with his financial director Richard King, but nearly took a wrong turn himself, when he was expelled from school at 15.
“I hated school,” he admits. “I managed to join the army, and I turned out OK, but not everybody has a clear career path and not everybody goes to university.”
John Shelton is an example of how hard work and enterprise can lead to a glowing career, despite shaky school results. He now has a degree, after starting studies again at 40 part time, three nights a week for four years.
After his stint in the army, he became a sales rep for Goodyear, worked his way up the company, and finally launched his own business five years ago, when he bought the Fossitt and Thorne tyre company chain. “You could have filmed Heartbeat in some of the old centres,” he smiles.
He and his team have re-located most of the seven centres – in Bourne, Donnington, Spalding, two in Kirton, Boston and Spilsby and turned them all into high-tech auto centres, offering MOTs among the whole range of other motor services.
Over the past five years, they have also found time to train, coach and offer work experience to Shaw Trust clients, and to youngsters from local schools, where John also gives talks to youngsters.
“Schools shout about achieving their targets, but they don’t tell you about the bottom 20% who leave school,” he points out. “We’ve had some really cracking lads, who really really struggle to read and write. They are wonderful guys, fantastic tyre fitters, but had an awful school time.
The STAR Awards citation praised John Shelton and his managers: “They have time and again gone far beyond what might be expected of them, offering placements, support, full time jobs and recently an apprenticeship to a young man who believed he was on the scrap heap,” says Shaw Trust Development Officer Kevin Cooper.
John Shelton collected the STAR Award from hurdling champion Colin Jackson.