My name is Duncan Bannatyne and I was born 2 February 1949 in Clydebank, Scotland. My business interests include Health Clubs, Hotels, Media, TV, Stage Schools, Property and Transport. I am most famous for my appearances as a business angel on the BBC programme Dragons' Den.
I have written 7 books; Anyone Can Do It sold more than 200,000 copies; Wake Up and Change Your Life quickly entered the Sunday Telegraph top selling books list, as did How to be Smart with Your Money. My fourth book, How to be Smart with Your Time, provides practical advice on making the best use of your most valuable asset, and my most recent book, 43 Mistakes Businesses Make, explains how to avoid those costly mistakes that can waste time, cause embarrassment or even endanger the future of a business.
Born in 1949 in the town of Clydebank, I was raised in relatively modest circumstances. I was told by my mother that she could not afford to buy me a bicycle, so I asked the local newsagents if I could start a paper round; told I would need a list of 100 potential customers, I painstakingly knocked on many doors and eventually drew up a list of 100 names and addresses. I got the job, bought a bike and never looked back.
In 1964, at the age of 15, I volunteered for 12 years with the Royal Navy as a junior 2nd class engineering mechanic stoker at RNTE Shotley near Ipswich. I served in the Navy for several years before receiving a dishonourable discharge for threatening to throw an officer off a boat landing jetty in Scotland.
In my biography, I explain the incident; it was in part a reaction to this officer's abuse of his authority, in part a dare by his shipmates and in part a way of getting out of the Navy, with which I had become disillusioned. Afterwards, I had to serve nine months in the tough Colchester military detention centre before being discharged aged 20.
In my twenties, I moved to Jersey, where I met my first wife, and then to Stockton-on-Tees in the North East. It was there that my business career began, with an ice cream van bought for £450; I soon expanded by buying more vans and eventually sold the business for £28,000, founding a care home business instead. Quality Care Homes was sold for £26 million in 1996 and another business, children's nursery chain Just Learning, for £22 million.
I have since branched into Health Clubs, with the popular Bannatyne's Health Clubs chain, and also bars, hotels and property. We acquired 26 Health Clubs from Hilton Hotels back in August 2006, which made us the largest independent chain of Health Clubs in the United Kingdom.
In October 2008, in defiance of the credit crunch, I opened the £12,000,000 Bannatyne Spa Hotel in Hastings and also revamped the spa chain.
I was honoured with the Order of the British Empire for my contribution to charity and I support many good causes, especially for children. I am also heavily involved with Comic Relief and UNICEF, and I am a passionate anti-smoking campaigner.