Former England star calls on Sheffield City Region businesses to get mentoring

A former England International footballer who went on to forge a successful business career after hanging up his boots has called on business owners from across the Sheffield City Region to use their knowledge and expertise to help would-be entrepreneurs take their first steps into self-employment.

Speaking at the Launchpad Mentoring Celebration Evening, a special event which showcased the important contribution mentors can make to the local economy, Danny Mills said we can all learn from mentors and urged existing business owners from across the Sheffield City Region to share their knowledge and experiences with others.

The event marked the finale of a special month of activities designed to showcase the contributions made by business mentors. The special celebration evening was organised by Launchpad Mentoring, which forms part of the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub, and saw a diverse range of new entrepreneurs and business owners who have benefitted from the programme take part.

Delegates were heard some success stories and were given an exclusive viewing of a new video designed to showcase some of the reasons why mentors give their time towards helping others. During his keynote speech, Danny Mills explored how mentoring had shaped his career, both on and off the football pitch.

Danny explained how he has worked with mentors since he first signed as apprentice with Norwich City as a teenager, and how listening to others helped him to compete at the highest levels in the game, including helping England reach the quarter finals of the 2002 World Cup.

When Danny’s footballing career was cruelly cut short aged just 32 he successfully built a career helping to transform the fortunes of a number of failing businesses, including the West Cornwall Pasty Company, which was successfully rescued from administration and sold earlier this year. A runner-up in the 2012 Celebrity Masterchef, he also acts as a trustee for the Jane Tomlinson appeal, as well as contributing to an FA Commission, designed to review English football.

Speaking at the event, Danny Mills said that everyone could potentially benefit from a mentor. He said: “We can all learn from mentoring. Throughout my career, I have always benefited from mentors. Mentors have supported me in many different ways, from helping me to manage my financial affairs and begin planning for a career after football to learning what it takes to become an effective broadcaster. When I took part in Celebrity Masterchef a few years ago, I didn’t hesitate in approaching others for advice.

“A good mentor isn’t someone who tells you what to do, or dictates a particular course of action. Good mentors draw upon their experiences to help others make the right decisions for themselves. The Launchpad programme is a great example of how businesses from different backgrounds are coming together to help transform obstacles into opportunities.

“The simple truth is that in many cases, those who are experienced, knowledgeable and have truly mastered their subject area are keen to inspire others to share their passion with others.

“As someone who has both benefitted from mentoring in the past and acted as a mentor to help others, it can be a thoroughly rewarding experience for both the mentor and the mentee and everyone wins.”

Irshad Akbar, Business Mentoring Manager, Launchpad said:

“Our very first Mentoring Month has proved to be a great success. We have seen more business owners join the programme, giving us the chance to build a strong local economy which is driven by the spirit of collaboration and sharing our own expertise.

“Danny’s positive experiences of mentoring illustrate the important role mentoring can play in realising your ambitions. Running a business, especially for individuals who have little or no business experience, can be a lonely experience and it can sometimes be hard to understand the implications of decisions that we face.

“The Launchpad Mentoring programme was developed to help new business owners connect with experienced business owners who are prepared to share their knowledge with others. Many of the business owners who take part in the programme recognise the value of giving something back to their local community and for both mentor and mentee it can be a rewarding journey.“

Since the programme was launched in April 2016, more than 100 businesses from across the Sheffield City Region have benefitted from mentoring relationships.

To find out how Launchpad Mentoring can help your business, or to sign the pledge to become a mentor, please call: 01302 736 062 or email All services are delivered completely free of charge to businesses based within the Sheffield City Region.

The Launchpad programme is a £4M, three year, part-ERDF funded programme, designed to increase the business stock in the Sheffield City Region through the provision of pre start, start up and post start up support. The programme commenced on 1st April 2016 for an initial period of 3 years.

The programme is targeting economic growth through initiatives to develop entrepreneurial mind-sets and skills to promote self-employment as a career option and to equip individuals with the entrepreneurial knowledge, technical skills and competencies required to establish and run successful businesses through the delivery of training, mentoring and business support.

It is being delivered by a consortium led by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council with delivery partners – Sheffield City Council, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, Bassetlaw District Council, Derbyshire Dales District Council and The Prince’s Trust. Funding is provided by each delivery partner, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority.

The project is receiving up to £2,359,613 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.

Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit