Alan Ferguson OBE, director of Fergusons Transport, has pledged £5,000 and his continued support for Covid-hit small firms looking for a road map to success, in his new role as ambassador at Open North Foundation.

Born in Blyth, the former president of the North East Chamber of Commerce, is current chair of the Blyth Town Deal Board and spearheaded its £25 million bid towards regeneration, with the outcome pending later this year.

Established in 1926, family-run, Fergusons Transport is the largest privately owned haulier in the North East. Its portfolio of customers comprises local, national and international companies from all sectors of industry, including Nissan and Amazon. With headquarters in Cramlington, it operates from several locations throughout the UK and also specialises in warehousing, logistics, removals and self-storage.

A private sector-led, not-for profit company, established in summer 2020, Open North Foundation assists small firms in the North East looking to recover from the pandemic. Businesses that meet strict criteria, receive grants ranging from £1000 to £5000, that are donated by companies and individuals in the region, plus in-kind support such as marketing, HR and finance. Directors, ambassadors and supporters of the Foundation provide their time pro bono.

Alan Ferguson, said: “Fergusons Transport has operated for nearly 100 years, assisting thousands of companies in the region and forging strong relationships. We believe that all businesses should look after the relationships they build in good times, during the bad times. Business doesn’t purely exist for what we can take from it. It operates to support all in its community and the North East is famed for looking after its own, lifting up those who need assistance when things get hard.

“The region’s business community is extremely interconnected, we are all separated by just one or two contacts. The successes and struggles of one business have a ripple effect and is why initiatives such as Open North Foundation are so important.”

Open North Foundation has provided grants to a number of local businesses including Chester-le-Street-based, Physio4U, Jarrow-based, boutique talent agency and professional academy, SHiELDS Agency and the Great North Eastern Brewery. Beneficiaries, such as Stokesley-based, Tk’s Café and Catering, can also benefit from the strategic partnership between Open North Foundation and Northumbria University, giving access to tens of thousands of pounds of business training support, via Northumbria’s Newcastle Business School.

Richard Swart, chair, Open North Foundation, said: “Alan brings a wealth of business knowledge and contacts as ambassador. There are very few people in the North East business world that haven’t heard of Fergusons Transport. It is a true regional success story that has not forgotten its local roots, despite truly impressive national and international growth.

“Alan’s support will be a huge asset in helping us further our reach and the very generous donation will be used to assist businesses which, with a little bit of support, will continue to bring great benefit to our local economy and community.

“As lockdown eases and businesses are able to resume a more normal way of operating, we will still be surrounded by somewhat of a safety net, due to the furlough scheme. When it stops at the end of September, there will be untold disruption and discomfort as businesses look to find their feet.

“Therefore, I would encourage all individuals and organisations that can pledge support, whether this be financial, in-kind, or both, to do so. The future of North East business depends on how we come together over the foreseeable future.”