Lifetime Achievement Award John Pontin
THERE is hardly an idle moment in John Pontin's life. As he himself says: "I have a head that doesn't stop churning thoughts and ideas. I can wake up at 4.30 in the morning with ideas and clarity of thought. Any lateral thinking pops up at the time. Some of it sticks, some fades away as nonsense."
Mr Pontin is an entrepreneur who co-founded more than half a century ago the JT Group, a design and build company which has been engaged in socially enlightened property development.
This self-effacing millionaire has never forgotten his responsibilities either to the less fortunate or to the wider environment, and uses his business and financial skills to look after both, being involved in many West Country community and charitable projects.
Today most of his thoughts are centred on saving the environment. Mr Pontin, who has five grandchildren, said: "I'd like them in 2050 to say (about me) he was trying to do something about carbon change.
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"I want the world to be a better place for them in which to live. The green business model drives me now."
His work is focused around a charity he helped launch a few years ago called The Converging World.
One of its objects is to fund and build renewable sources of energy such as wind turbines which have brought a new form of economic power to India.
In 2008 The Converging World project installed two large turbines in Tamil Nadu, South East India.
Since then more than 20 million units of electricity have been delivered to the Tamil Nadu State grid. Two more smaller turbines will be generating electricity by the end of next month.
"The additional turbines have been funded by an Indian bank and various individuals, businesses and charitable foundations in the West Country and the London area," said John.
He explains the economic background to delivering green electricity. "A third of the money coming from sales of the electricity created by the turbines goes to the local Indian community, supporting social and environmental projects, another third goes towards buying more turbines and the final third comes to Bristol to fund community projects."
The Converging World is also rolling out a woodstove project to some of India's poorest households and has launched a twinning programme for schools in collaboration with Knowle West Media Centre.
Local pupils will link up with their counterparts in Mumbai "to develop friendships leading to further peace and sustainable development".
But it's all a far cry from John Pontin's early days. Brought up in the side streets of Southville, this son of a postman had a lacklustre school career, leaving without any qualifications. However, he put his steely determination to good use to succeed.
Mr Pontin worked for a local builders firm for seven years, qualified as a quantity surveyor on day release and met Tim Organ who was to become his co-founder in the JT Group. It was revolutionary for it combined building and design in one organisation.
The group's first contract was a £4,000 car repair garage in Westbury-on- Trym.
More than 450 projects were completed in the first 30 years, ranging from a block of flats perched on a limestone escarpment nearly 300 feet above sea level in Clifton to new parliament buildings in Dubai.
The turning point for John Pontin came in 1975 when JT bought the derelict Victorian Bush House, a former tea warehouse on Narrow Quay. After conversion it became the group's headquarters with the Arnolfini art gallery on the lower two floors.
This was the first building on the waterfront to be renovated after the City Docks were closed to commercial shipping.
It was to be the catalyst for the regeneration of the waterfront.
JT Group worked with Bristol City Council to conserve rotting and rusting harbourside cargo sheds, turning two of them into the Watershed arts centre which earlier this month celebrated its 30th anniversary.
It also converted the old V Shed, where barrels of claret and sauternes from France were for years unloaded from ships, into Bordeuax Quay restaurant and cookery school. As much work as possible was done using recycled materials.
The list of organisations and projects to which John has devoted much time is remarkable.
There was a radio station, bodies involved in education, conservation, strategic planning and regeneration, the Society of Merchant Venturers and much more.
Mr Pontin is a leading light in the Go Zero campaign in his home village of Chew Magna with residents being encouraged to buy locally, recycle more effectively and use bio-fuels made from plants fuels if they must drive a car.
He glosses over the fact that he's in his seventies, a time when many people would be putting their feet up, to think about his next green project.
Looking down on the harbourside from the arched window of his third floor office, this quietly spoken and self-effacing businessman said: "Don't just say I've done it all on my own. The key to my success is that I need people around me with the skills to do just about anything.
"Managements need to foster a core team, people who love working together."