As a youngster, James Beattie dreamed of being a professional golfer.
Growing up in Salendine Nook, he captained the junior team at Elland Golf Club and worked hard to get his handicap down to single figures.
But his hopes took a knock when he applied for the post of assistant pro – and failed to make the cut.
“That broke my heart,” says James. “I thought I would never play golf again.”
James did land a job at Longley Park Golf Club, but also received some sage advice from one of his colleagues there.
“I had got good enough grades at school to go to college,” says James. “He advised me to go to college and play golf as a hobby. So, that’s what I did.
“I went to Huddersfield New College and then studied sport and psychology at Liverpool University.
“I didn’t really know what the course involved – it was just that I was interested in sport and I’d decided to do something I was interested in. I was hedging my bets, thinking that with psychology I could do a lot of things.”
After graduating, James worked for Kirklees Council running a sports counselling project for young offenders and people who had come out of prison on licence – creating sports programmes to help fill their time constructively and steer them away from a life of crime.
James went on to join Wakefield Council as a sports development manager – until 18 months ago he was made redundant due to spending cuts.
Although it was a blow at the time, it provided the opportunity for James to set up his own business – sports consultancy seeitnowsports.com.
James says: “I had done a few small events off my own bat while working for the council and I’d enjoyed it. I’d raised some money for charity and made a little bit of pocket money for myself.
“Launching my own business, it was a case of sink or swim. Either I made a success of it or I would have to go back to employed work.”
Now James is in his element running a one-man business with sport at its core – organising corporate hospitality at top sporting events, staging charity fundraising evenings with stars from sports such as football and boxing, holding corporate events linked to occasions such as the Cheltenham Golf Cup and sourcing authentic sporting memorabilia for people seeking that special present.
A busy diary includes an evening with champion boxer Joe Calzaghe on Saturday, October 17, at the Cedar Court Hotel, Ainley Top, to raise funds for Rawthorpe Boxing Club and a “Soccer Speak Off” with ex-footballers Ray Parlour and Dean Windass to be held in November at the Holiday Inn, Brighouse.
Other events have featured footballers including Peter Shilton, Lee Sharpe, Bryan Robson and Paul Merson as speakers at sporting dinners, pro-am golf tournaments at venues including De Vere Oulton Hall, hospitality events to tie in with major competitions such as golf’s Ryder Cup, and corporate hospitality at Wimbledon and Aintree.
Clients are already asking James if he can sort out hotels and tickets for the Euro 2016 football tournament. And then, of course, there’s the Olympics.
Sport is a big draw that transcends all classes, says James. And it can turn grown-ups into little kids again!
“I have clients as far away as Birmingham while Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham are big areas for corporate sports events and corporate hospitality,” he says.
“The corporate market is very different to the promotions market, where the man on the street gets to meet his sporting idol, listen to those stories about his career, get a photo with him or get his autograph. It takes people back in time and people get a bit sentimental!”
James, who works from his Bradley home, lists his own favourite sports as boxing, golf, jump racing and squash.
“I have always been a huge fan of boxing,” he says. “I used to train at a gym in Dewsbury where I took some of the young offenders. They enjoyed the boxing gym, the training and the discipline that’s involved.
“I went twice a week, sparring with people who were there every night of the week. But I didn’t have that degree of dedication!”
James is pleased to have taken the leap into self-employment. He enjoyed working at the grass roots, but life at management level was more about paperwork than play.
He says: “I got the biggest thrill from helping to run large-scale events such as the 2012 Youth Games at what was then the Galpharm Stadium, but I wasn’t 100% happy with the 9-to-5 routine and being behind a desk.
“Once you get to a certain level you become a manager, writing reports and attending meetings. This suits me much better.”
James admits: “I am still finding myself as a business person and what the business is about and where it is going.
“But in the last six months I have had a very clear vision and I am putting together a business plan for the next 12 to 16 months – and I’ll build from there.”
James says his “favourite time” is time spent with wife Helen and their children eight-year-old Zach and six-year-old Maisy. While Maisy loves dance, Zach shares his dad’s passion for golf.
“He’s really into it,” says James. “I play a few holes with him and I keep threatening to get back into it properly, but golf is hugely time-consuming and I just don’t have the time.”
Zach’s hero is colourfully-clothed US golfer Ricky Fowler – so father and son attended one of the practice days at the British Open hoping to get his autograph. Practice days provide the best opportunity of getting close to the stars, James says.
Ricky had promised to sign autographs after his practice round, but then disappeared into the clubhouse without greeting fans who had spent a long, rain-soaked day hoping to meet their hero. Then the emessage came that Ricky was off to get something to eat.
“I was cursing him under my breath because it was time for us to go,” says James. Then they heard a whistle and turned to see Ricky on the balcony of the clubhouse, beckoning them over. When they drew near, Ricky took off his hat, signed it and dropped it down for a delighted Zach.
It’s now a treasured possession – and one piece of sporting memorabilia that James definitely won’t be putting up for auction at one of his events!
Role: Owner and founder
Family: Married to Helen with children Zach, eight, and Maisy, six
Holidays: My favourite holiday was to Mexico. This year, we have been to Disneyland Paris and Turkey
Car: I have a Volkswagen Vectra, but I’m about to get a Skoda Superb Estate because I need a bigger car
First job: Delivering the milk all over Salendine Nook, Marsh, Sowood and Stainland on my parents’ milk round
Best thing about the job? I love the fact that I’m my own boss and the success of the business rests solely on me. Getting great feedback from clients makes me proud about what I’m doing
Worst thing about the job? Selling doesn’t come naturally to me – it’s something I need to develop
Business tip: Believe 100% in what you are doing, take good advice and work hard
Work: Events and hospitality
Phone: 07531 286977