Tees Lifestyle – Raj Singh

One of the Tees region’s most well-known businessmen, Raj Singh’s business interests include a number of residential care homes, a construction company and investment properties across the UK. Having started out in business as a teenager with an off-license in Redcar, he now owns the Prestige Group, which owns a number of Teesside care home as well as Redcastle Homes, whose first housing development is taking shape in Eaglescliffe close to Yarm.

Teesside Life

The restaurants I love to eat in are
Chadwicks Inn Maltby, Muse in Yarm, the Otter and Fish in Hurworth and the new Tomahawk Steakhouse in Potto. They all have great ambience, service and food.

The meal I order most of all is
Usually some sort of seafood dish.

My favourite tipple is
Vodka and tonic or a good whiskey and water.

The stores I love to shop in are
Psyche for casual clothes and Jules B in Newcastle for suits.

The things I spend too much money are
Cars probably. I change my car every two or three years. I’ve got an Aston Martin Rapide and a Rolls Royce Ghost.

For a day out, I
Go to a football match with family and friends, enjoying the hospitality and entertainment that goes with it.

One place on Teesside I’d like to visit is
Roseberry Topping. I’ve never been up there because I’ve had dicky knees most of my life. Please can we change this

In my downtime, I like nothing better than
Watching TV or playing golf. I’m average at golf – I play off 17 or 18.

My perfect night in involves
A good movie with family and friends and a nice meal, cooked by my wife, Manjit.

Life’s Loves

A book I love is
Alex Ferguson’s last autobiography. I’m fascinated by what he’s achieved – where he came from and where he got to. I do watch Manchester United but I wouldn’t say I’m a fan.

A film I love is
Step Brothers which is just daft but funny. It stars Will Farrell, who I once met briefly at a Ricky Hatton fight in Vegas. I also enjoy Al Pacino in something a bit darker like a gangster movie.

A TV programme I love is
Match of the Day or a good 2020 cricket match, and all major boxing fights. I enjoy most sports programmes.

A song I love is
My Way by Frank Sinatra – it’s the message as much as the song.

A personality I love is
Robert de Niro – just a quality actor who can turn his hand to almost anything, whether it be gangster movies or comedies.

A holiday destination I love is
Dubai for the easy-going lifestyle, cleanliness and the fact that there’s no crime. It’s all brand new, the shopping malls are really good and they do look after you.

People in Life

I most I like to spend time with
My family. I’ve got two boys and two girls. I love having meals out with them.

The biggest influence on my career was
Well, the late ex-Boro chairman Colin Henderson was certainly one of them. He used to drink in Redcar Cricket Club when I was an up-and-coming young buck. He’d done well in life, through his time at ICI where he was chief executive and at the time he was running four or five petrol stations. I got to know him really well, learning from him over a drink. He was always helpful and I used to love to pick his brains.

The person no longer with us who’d I’d most like to spend another hour with is…
My grandfather. He was a headmaster back in India. He was an educated guy who people looked up to and took advice from. He came over here from Punjab in the early 1950s before my father. He died in 1975 when I was still young. Unlike him, I’m not educated but people who knew him sometimes compare me to him. He never got to see anything of my own success so it would be nice to have an hour with him.

The person who makes me laugh
is Stuart Stamp, the father of former Middlesbrough footballer Phil Stamp. He is hilarious – a Chubby Brown-type character. He lived close to my first shop in Redcar and later had the Market Tavern in North Ormesby. You could go in there depressed and come out laughing your head off. He was so, so funny.

The people who inspire me
Are those who work their way up from the bottom to the top, rather than being born with a silver spoon in their mouth – people like Colin Henderson and Sir John Hall. One of my proudest moments was when I was in charge at Darlington Football Club and Sir John came along to Wembley as my guest for the FA Trophy final. As we shared a hug when we scored, and won the trophy I remember thinking how I couldn’t have imagined sharing a moment like that with such a successful man.

The people who make me angry are
Those who are always blaming other people or their circumstances for the fact they haven’t been successful in life.

Working Life

My greatest achievement has been
Hopefully my overall business life but the first care home I invested in on Longlands Road in Middlesbrough back in 1994 was a big step up at the time. It could have gone one way or the other, but fortunately it went the right way. I got out of the shop I had and sold all the houses I had to put everything into that care home. If it hadn’t worked out, who knows where I would be now. Thankfully, it was a success and I’ve now got care homes across Teesside with more in the pipeline.

My biggest disappointment
Has got to be my time as chairman of Darlington Football Club. We set off with a vision and a dream but, for one reason or another, it didn’t happen. I had cut my losses and get out, so it ended in tears. Given the right circumstances, I’d be prepared to go back again because I do have a sense of unfinished business.

My greatest regret
I don’t really have regrets. I’ve always just gone for it. It hasn’t always worked out but I’ve not regretted trying.

My business mantra is
Look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves. Also that you have to lead from the front. If you’re willing to do anything and everything yourself then your team will follow.

The alternative career I might have had was
Football if I’d been good enough.  I was only 20 when I damaged my cruciate playing football. The truth is that I’d have made it before then if I’d been good enough, of course, but – like we all do – I like to think I had it! I played Sunday league football, mainly as a forward or in midfield, for the likes of Red Barns. I also remember playing kick-abouts for Whinney Banks Under-18s with (the late Middlesbrough FC radio commentator) Ali Brownlee.