Lord Willie Haughey
By Maria McCourt
Business tycoon, philanthropist and Celtic FC devotee, Lord Willie Haughey, will formally open this year’s Belfast International Homecoming, the leading business and investment conference for the Irish and Scots Irish diaspora.
The event, which takes place between 28 and 30 November, will see a host of leading lights from across the globe gather in Belfast to cement past relationships and create new connections, with the overall aim of building peace and prosperity in the North.
Lord Haughey will launch discussions at the business and investment section of the event on Friday 30 November which this year has the theme, Game On! The Homecoming will incorporate the Basketball Hall Of Fame Belfast Classic featuring NCAA Division I College basketball, highlighting the city’s proposition as a sporting venue.
As a previous Director of Celtic Football Club plc from 1994 to 1997, and now as an ambassador for the club, Lord Haughey is well aware of the value of sports in lifting a community and regenerating a region.
Born in the Gorbals in Glasgow, just a couple of miles from Celtic Park, Lord Haughey is the chairman of City Facilities Management Holdings Limited, and one of Scotland’s wealthiest businessmen.
He began his working life as an apprentice refrigeration and air conditioning engineer before working for two and a half years in the United Arab Emirates.
In the mid-eighties he returned to Glasgow and set up the company, City Refrigeration with his wife Susan.
The company started its first year with four employees and a turnover of £100 thousand and is now one of the largest privately owned facilities management companies in the world.
With offices in the UK, France, Australia, Kuala Lumpur and North America and employing just over 12,000 people, it has an annual turnover of approximately £1 billion.
The company counts some of the largest companies in the world as part of its client base, including Wal*Mart/Asda, Wesfarmers/Coles, Giant, Jardine Matheson, South Eastern Grocers and BP, to name but a few.
Speaking of his appearance at the Belfast International Homecoming, Lord Haughey - who has twice been voted Scottish Entrepreneur of the Year - said: “I am delighted to have been invited to play a part in the Belfast International Homecoming as this is a fantastic initiative that now has a global reach.
“It is vitally important that the diaspora is continually encouraged to get involved with the renaissance of this wonderful city.”
Lord Haughey, whose family has set up a charitable trust that has donated over £9 million to charity and who backed the Entrepreneurial Spark start-up accelerator which forms part of the Homecoming itinerary, will also attend the gala banquet dinner which will conclude the Homecoming at Belfast City Hall that evening.
For more information on the Belfast International Homecoming Business and Investment conference go to belfasthomecoming.com.