National recognition for Tyneside chimney sweep

National recognition for Tyneside chimney sweep

A Tyneside man has overcame his fear of heights to set up his own chimney sweep business.

After a 30-year career in social housing, Richard Bryan decided to  embark on Wilkins Chimney Sweep, and since then has grown his customer base to over 1,500, swept more than 2,000 chimneys and fitted over 150 bird guards.

Moving out of his comfort zone was crucial for Mr Bryan, who has to overcome his fear of heights in order to successfully complete the fitting of bird guards.

Mr Bryan said: "I worked with head office to develop a product to address a local problem with nesting gulls. The cages are pretty hard to carry up a ladder, especially with knocking knees! It took a lot of patience to overcome my fears, but it’s definitely been worth it." 

Peter Harris, managing director of Wilkins Chimney Sweep, said "We like to work with people who are driven to succeed.

"Whilst the roof work is a small part of the business every little counts and Richard was quite honest – he wanted to reap the financial rewards rather than pay someone else to do the work."

Now, Wilkins Chimney Sweep has been shortlisted for the microbusiness category at the 2016 bfa HSBC Franchisee of the Year Awards.

The British Franchise Association (bfa) recognises the UK’s most exceptional operators in a range of categories, for their business growth and development, service excellence and ethical franchising practice. 

The awards are the oldest in the franchise sector, running for nearly 30 years, and recognise franchising at its best across the UK’s £15bn franchise sector.

Pip Wilkins, the bfa’s CEO, said: "With around 45,000 franchise-owned businesses in the UK, we’ve had to make some very tough choices to get down to our finalists. These are exceptional entrepreneurs and Richard should be extremely proud to be shortlisted as one of those leading the way in franchising." 

Andrew Brattesani, UK head of franchising at HSBC, said: "One of the best aspects of these awards is that they recognise the outstanding work being done by franchisees in their communities right across the country. These are local people creating local jobs and generating wealth for local economies and it’s a pleasure to recognise those efforts."

The 2016 awards has six categories:

·       Young Franchisee of the Year

·       Female Franchisee of the Year

·       Olderpreneur Franchisee of the Year

·       Microbusiness Franchisee of the Year

·       B2B Franchisee of the Year

·       Customer Service Franchisee of the Year


Winners will be named at a black-tie ceremony on Thursday 29 September at Birmingham Town Hall.