Belfast Telegraph

I idolised my dad, when he died it spurred me on - £55m-a-year venison firm tycoon on why he was driven to succeed

By Lisa Smyth

The founder of a leading artisan food manufacturer has attributed his company's multi-million-pound success to the death of his father.

Denis Lynn was just 15 years old when his father, Hugh, lost his battle with cancer aged just 57 - a year younger than Mr Lynn is now.

The father-of-two has described the loss of his father at such a young age as a pivotal moment in his life, which has helped him achieve incredible success.

"My dad was my hero," he said.

Mr Lynn, who owns and runs Downpatrick-based Finnebrogue, was a pupil at Sullivan Upper School in Holywood, Co Down, when his father became ill.

"I was expelled about five months after my dad died," he said.

"Basically, I think when you go through a bereavement like that, you lose the ability to listen to people talking absolute rubbish.

"I think when the teachers started talking complete and utter nonsense, I just felt like I couldn't take it.

"It is an understatement to say it was devastating for our family when my dad became ill."

Mr Lynn subsequently moved to London where he hoped to make a living.

"I think I wanted to get away from all that Catholic and Protestant thing that was going on," he explained.

"I was going to make my fortune but I only lasted six months and then I came back, London was a lot tougher than I imagined."

Mr Lynn returned to Northern Ireland and started up his own food business in 1985.

It would go on to become Finnebrogue, which produces high quality venison and other meat products, and counts chefs Paul Rankin and Heston Blumenthal among its customers.

Its turnover this year was £55m and Mr Lynn said he hopes this will increase to more than £100m in the next three years.

The inspirational success has come despite the fact that Mr Lynn had no farming experience before he bought Finnebrogue Estate.

"I never had any cunning business plan," he continued.

"I went over to the place and it was a total and emotional decision to buy it.

"There were pheasants and rabbits running around and it was an absolutely amazing place, that was it, but buying it has done me no harm in the last 25 years.

"In fact, it was the best thing I have ever done.

"To be honest, I don't feel like I turned my life around.

"I feel like anyone who is successful in life generally didn't fit in to school, history is full of examples, look at Churchill for example.

"I feel like if I had gone on with school and gone to university, I really have no idea how my life would have turned out.

"I think university would have taught me how impossible some things are and that's something I have never learnt.

"I think that university can put you between the straight lines and sometimes you have to be outside the straight lines in order to succeed.

"One of my faults, which is also a strength, is the fact I have no idea when I am actually beaten."

Belfast Telegraph


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