An entrepreneur lived in a disused railway carriage as a youth before setting up a major house-building company.
Now Tony Pidgley CBE – who left school at 15 to set up his own business – has been recognised some 50 years later with a national award for his entrepreneurial spirit.
In a true tale of rags to riches, he was born in 1947 and spent his early years living in a disused railway carriage.
He was adopted age four from Barnardos and lived variously throughout the county, working with his adoptive parents Bill and Florence chopping down trees and selling the logs.
Aged 15, he bought a lorry and started his own business in the haulage and plant hire sector, which he later sold to Crest Homes when he was just 19 where he became a building director.
He founded Berkeley Homes in Weybridge in 1976 and the firm enjoyed considerable growth over the next decade until Berkeley Group PLC was floated on the stock exchange in 1985.
From its humble beginnings, the group this year reached the FTSE 100 index – and still keep its HQ in Cobham.
Tony Pidgley CBE has been awarded the Excellence in Business Award
On Tuesday (November 10), Mr Pidgley was awarded Lloyds Bank’s Excellence in Business Award at the National Business Awards at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.
Judges said: “He has an uncanny ability to call markets, foresee recessions, as well as put his personal capital at risk when neccessary.
“His drive and commercial flair has also turned Berkeley into one of Britain’s best residential developers with a reputation for outstanding commercial performance and which has been ranked as the UK’s most sustainable major housebuilder for each of the last eight years.”
‘Whatever you do, do it well’
Mr Pidgley was unable to attend the ceremony in person so Berkeley’s executive director Sean Ellis collected the award on his behalf.
However, in a video message upon acceptance of the award, Mr Pidgley said he was delighted to be recognised by the awards.
“It’s a great honour to win any award that’s been judged over a ten-year period,” he said.
“So I’m obviously very honoured and flattered and delighted for everyone who has been involved in it.
“I think the next generation of young people need hard work, commitment, common sense, a good balance in life – it’s like having a hobby, whatever you do, do it well.”
Mr Pidgley, who lives in Windsor, was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2014 New Year’s Honours list.
He has advised the Mayor of London on the Outer London Commission and the government on disposal of public sector land.
Businessman Mr Pidgley is also a trustee of the Open City London charity and is president of the London Chamber of commerce and industry.
He has married twice, most recently to Sarah Hill, and has two children.