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LiverpoolIn 2008, the Banking Crash brought about the biggest recession in living memory. TLC Founder Stephen Fletcher takes up the story of the birth of The Leaders Club.

My background had been in training and development and had previously founded 4 training organisations ( Royal Insurance Education Services, Interskill, Intuition and latterly BroadSkill ). It was immediately apparent that the recession was going to bring training and development to a grinding halt. It’s always the first budget to be ditched when things get tough. But, this recession was different and catastrophic. Never was the need to develop the leaders of the future. How better to do it than bringing together a group of extraordinary people in a special club to be able to exchange views, knowledge and experience. To do so we needed to attract leaders from businesses large and small, public and private, the services, the military, the arts, the faiths, the third sector and of course academia. Add in the ingredient of confidentiality by embracing it with the Chatham House rule and you had the origins of The Leaders Club. I liked the name so I patented it and registered the name as a company and captured a variety of URLs.

The next, most crucial step was to see if the idea had support – and for me – it had to be an academic institution. Having worked in Liverpool all my life and admired the enlightened leadership at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) given by Vice Chancellor Michael Brown and Chairman of Governors Sir Malcolm Thornton. Both were old friends but would not be afraid to ‘say no’. The reverse. The idea had legs. I wrote to a whole range of contacts and potentially interested parties and got a tremendous response. LJMU did likewise and by the end of 2009 we were ready to go.

Our inaugural meeting at the Hard Days Night Hotel was a sellout with a number  dignatories such as The Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside Dame Lorna Muirhead and Lord Alton of Liverpool. 4 meetings were held in 2010 at the Athenaeum Club and amongst those who attended was Chris Locke from Pearson. Chris was so impressed that he has me to start TLC London and in 2011 TLC London was inaugurated with a memorable dinner at Pearson’s historic HQ in the Strand. Nearly 70 attended and heard an absorbing speech by Founder Vice President Jake Moores. One year later we inaugurated TLC York with Founder Director Richard Smelt chairing a Question Time type debate with an audience of over 40.

Here we are now with nearly 100 Founder members, 450 ordinary members  and just about to have our 100th gathering. We’ve been to places money cannot buy and heard speakers of the highest order – all who have given members the benefit of their knowledge and experience without charge. The motto that I suddenly thought up in the bath – Bringing Great Minds Together has never been more apt.

Steve