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County History


Although the County of the West Midlands has only existed since 1974, the settlements of the West Midlands have long been important centres of commerce and industry as well as developing a good local infrastructure. Coventry was one of England's most important cities during the Middle Ages, with its prosperity built upon wool and cloth manufacture. Birmingham and Wolverhampton have a tradition of industry dating back to the 16th century, when small metal-working industries developed. Birmingham was also known for its manufacture of small arms, whereas Wolverhampton became a centre of lock manufacture and brass working. The coal and iron ore deposits of the Black Country area provided a ready source of raw materials. The area grew rapidly during the Industrial Revolution, and by the 20th century had grown into one large conurbation. Coventry was slower to develop, but by the early 20th century, it had become an important centre of bicycle and car manufacture. 

The West Midlands is divided into seven districts called metropolitan boroughs, these are: Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton. Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton have city status.

Keith was born in Aston, Birmingham, in a back terrace house which was subsequently demolished. He then moved with his parents to a Local Authority maisonette in Newtown. 

He attended Upper Thomas Street Infants, Junior and Secondary schools and was selected to attend Handsworth Technical School at the age of 13, but after two years was not invited to join the sixth form. He went to work for a firm of Chartered Accountants in the centre of Birmingham, where he secured the necessary qualifications to obtain entry into the professional examinations. Five years later he qualified as a Chartered Accountant. 

This year, he celebrates 50 years of marriage to Pamelawho is from Wolverhampton. They have three sons and six grandchildren, (three girls and three boys). 

After a short spell working in Birmingham, Keith was offered a position in Liberia and in 1969 joined the Mesurado Group of companies in Monrovia as Financial Controller. Eighteen months later Keith was appointed President of the Group, which had interests in fishing, rubber plantations, timber, manufacturing and import/export and was the largest employer in the country. 

During the seven years spent in Africa he travelled extensively and in 1976 returned to live in the Midlands not far from his beloved Birmingham, where he began a number of business ventures. He was responsible for setting up a number of companies, notably Takare Plc, which revolutionised long-term care and which floated in 1990. When Takare was subsequently taken over by BUPA the company had 14,000 employees on the payroll. 

Keith has interests in motor dealerships as Chairman of Listers Group, electronic manufacturing through Laney Headstock Distribution, and a family property business which includes Nurton Developments and G B Developments. He is no longer actively involved in his various business interests, serving them all as non-Executive Chairman. 

He has taken on a number of charitable roles including: Chairmanship of the Trustees of the recently-opened Library of Birmingham, Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands, and is currently High Sheriff of the West Midlands. 

He continues to enjoy travel for business and pleasure and aims to visit every major Opera House in the world. He is a life-long supporter of Warwickshire County Cricket Club and West Bromwich Albion Football Club. 

He is passionate about the City of Birmingham and is involving himself in a number of initiatives which acknowledge his great debt to the city. 


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