1980 A


When the Boat Goes Out

In November 1980, graduates David Irwin and David Grayson completed a research paper for The Council of Europe that was to drive their ambition to construct meaningful change within the North East. Asking “When the boat goes out… where will the jobs come from?”, a reference to the traditional North East shanty, they concluded that the local population placing a focus on creating their own employment offered the most powerful resistance to looming economic decline. Grayson commented on their findings, “It (the North East) forgot about the enterprise and innovation that had made Tyneside and Britain great and ended up with one of the highest levels of unemployment and lowest levels of self-employment in Europe.”


Project North East is Launched

Motivated by their research, David Irwin and David Grayson founded Project North East in 1980, a social enterprise supporting people to start their own business. Irwin and Grayson viewed enterprise development as the key to creating a strong, sustainable future for the North East of England, and offered business support services to encourage individuals affected by the troubling economic climate of the 1980s to consider self-employment. Now operating as PNE Group, the incentive to promote positive and social economic change ignited by Irwin and Grayson in the 1980s still underlines the purpose of our organisation today.


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