My Refuge, John Caudwell: The Billionaire and Star of Ch4’s Britain’s Most Expensive Home, 69, at his Manor House in Staffordshire
- John Caudwell, 69, shares important business at his Staffordshire mansion
- Billionaire cherishes memory of how cycling led him to meet partner Modesta
- Cherishes a poem he wrote for Margaret Thatcher when she visited his home
John Caudwell, 69, (pictured) shared a selection of items of personal significance at his Staffordshire country house
1. GOOD CALL
The cup here was given to me by Karren Brady, the then boss of Birmingham City FC, as a thank you to my company Phones 4u for sponsoring the club. I started my mobile phone business while working as a used car salesman and sold it in 2006 for £1.5 billion.
The prize next door, from the Happy Hearts Fund, was given to me for my charitable work. The cause close to my heart is Caudwell Children, which provides care and support to sick and disabled children and their families.
2. WHEEL LOVE
Cycling is a passion of mine – and through cycling I met my partner Modesta, who represented Lithuania in the women’s road race at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. We met at a charity cycling event from Saint-Tropez to Monaco, fell in love and now have a 10-month-old son, William.
3. ODE TO MAGIC
John cherishes a memory of how cycling led him to meet partner Modesta (pictured)
I wrote a poem for Margaret Thatcher when she attended a Conservative fundraiser dinner at my house. We chatted all night. I tried to keep her away from politics, but it was her whole life.
The week before, I had heard someone give a wonderful talk about her. Knowing I couldn’t compete, I instead wrote this poem and presented it to her. She wrote this thank you letter and joked that I would be the poet’s next laureate.
4. MY SPIRITUAL HOUSE
Broughton Hall is a mansion built in the 17th century. The ghost of a boy is said to be haunted by the ghost of a boy who was shot by Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers in the Civil War. I bought the house in the 90’s.
Before then it was a home for elderly nuns who used this room as their chapel. In front is one of my three Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts – I see them as works of art.
I also own a 1902 Westfield which I drove in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. I finished third because I stopped for coffee and cake, although it’s not strictly a race.
5. HIGH FLYER
Here’s a model of the helicopter I’m flying around the country with. It’s an expensive commute, but it saves so much time – I can do what would otherwise be a four-hour trip in an hour.
I also fly a plane, pilot small yachts and own a 73m superyacht that I dock in the Mediterranean.
6. TRIBUTE TO THE FALLEN
This is me behind the Queen at the unveiling of the RAF Bomber Command Memorial in London’s Green Park in 2012. It commemorates the sacrifice of the 55,573 aircrew who died on missions in the Second World War.
My philanthropy is focused on improving lives rather than building monuments, but I felt compelled to contribute greatly to this monument because its lack was an insult to the veterans and their families.
As told to Angela Wintle. Britain’s Most Expensive House: Building for a Billionaire is available on All4. For information on John’s charity, visit caudwellchildren.com