adidas delivery A real rags to riches story
He has been dubbed North Yorkshire’s most eligible bachelor. But this multi millionaire who has just retired at 34 endured an impoverished upbringing, raised by a single parent on benefits. He tells Ruth Campbell how he turned his life around
RITCHIE Fiddes is living the life most of us can only dream of. Having moved to a stunning converted farmhouse with stables and paddocks, set in 20 acres of magnificent North Yorkshire countryside, he is happily retired at the age of 34.
Ritchie, who owns 20 racehorses, along with six yearlings, now spends his time indulging his passion for the sport which had been a part time hobby while he was busy building the IT business he recently sold for 23m.
What makes his story all the more remarkable is that he left school at 16, having been brought up by a single parent on benefits, living in a succession of damp, overcrowded flats and council hostels and bed and breakfasts in nearby Ripon.
Ritchie has owned Porches and Ferraris, bought a string of properties in the city and, up until recently, even lived in the penthouse suite of York’s Cedar Court Grand, North Yorkshire’s only five star hotel, for eight months, while his previous home was being renovated.
He and his business partner started their online backup and disaster recovery business from nothing, in a small, cramped office in a rough part of Leeds, above a pet shop and next to a nail bar.
Backup Technology, quickly grew to be the biggest specialist in Europe, with a turnover in excess of 6m and offices in the States with clients including major sporting clubs, the BBC, the Crown Prosecution Service, Siemens, Suzuki and Pernod Ricard.
His friends joke that he is ‘North Yorkshire’s most eligible bachelor’, and Ritchie blushes at the thought. But he does admit that, if he hadn’t been so busy building up his business he would probably have settled down and had a family by now.
And family, despite his chaotic upbringing, means a lot to him. He credits his grandparents, 77 year old Jean and George, who died recently aged 90, for giving him the vital support he needed when he was growing up.
At times, there wasn’t enough food at home when the benefits money ran out and there was little structure in his life: “My grandparents were the one solid thing in my life. They always lived in the same ex council house, which they had saved up to buy for 600. There was always food on table and I knew my clothes would be washed.”
Ritchie moved George and Jean into one of two charming cottages, with brand new kitchen and bathroom, in the grounds of his five bedroom Georgian farmhouse: “They never had anything like it. Having sold the business, out of everything I have done,
seeing them moved in meant more to me than anything else.”