Sincere, intuitive and tenacious, 44-year-old Michael Josephson is an entrepreneur determined to make a difference. A man of his word, over the last 15 years, he’s raised over £4 million for local charities – and for Childline North West in particular. He says, “I’m passionate about Childline – it’s my story too. You see, one doesn’t need to come from wealth to make wealth.”
Michael was 10 when his beloved mother suddenly died. Devastated and isolated, he spent six years in and out of care, enduring bullying and extensive abuse. Leaving the ‘system’ at 16, he displayed the initiative that’s brought him success. He took a BTEC college course, discovered his innate flair for marketing and, yes, he found his niche.
In 1998, Michael and a client set up buying and selling surplus stocks. After 17 years, Michael took company control. Renamed Stocks 2015 Ltd, it now boasts a £3 million turnover, dealing worldwide in end-of-line items – from luxury Godiva Chocolates and jewellery to everyday shampoo, clothing and toothpaste. Michael’s online outlet Wisebuy is managed by Lindon Kellett, his life partner of 17 years and official civil partner since their June 30th, 2012 ceremony at the Alderley Edge Hotel – attended by pal Dame Esther Rantzen.
Lowest point & advice
On December 28th, 1998, Michael, then 24, redefined his life’s path. He had come out. He lived the city-centre high life – partying, drinking, bingeing and taking drugs. He also suffered great ‘downers’. Plumbing the depths, he decided to end it all.
“I hadn’t reached out to anyone but should have done,” he explains. “On your own, things build up in your head. You put yourself in an even darker place. But another person’s viewpoints can show you light at the end of the tunnel. My advice is ‘open up’. Help is always available.”
Averse to dwelling on things negative, Michael recalls carefully, “I was not in my right mind. Alcohol and substances had increased my deep depression. That night, I felt desperate. I climbed onto a bridge over the A34 and prepared to jump. After two hours up there, the drink had worn off and I really didn’t want to kill myself. I saw the mayhem I’d created – the police and ambulances down there. I’d wasted their time. I’d no option. I jumped and landed 60 feet below right onto my feet. I broke umpteen bones throughout my body. I lay motionless in hospital for six weeks and during that time, realised I did have purpose in my life. I couldn’t turn the clock back but could see a future. I’d make changes. Above all, I wanted my mother to look down and be proud of me.”
Discharged after many months, workaholic Michael was hungrier than ever for financial success. He states, “Qualifications and academic prowess weren’t needed – but passion, instinct and common sense were. Being streetwise like me, was a great start. Keeping it small and centralised, I still run a tight ship with loyal staff and know what’s going on.”
Success & fundraising
The rest is not history but an ongoing progression of commercial, personal and philanthropic achievements for Michael, who, in childhood, loved holding little charity jumble sales. He clarifies, “I want no child to have the childhood I had.” Unsurprisingly, his first focus was on helping children. Fundraising from 2008 till 2017 for Esther Rantzen’s Childline North West, Josephson brought in a staggering £3.4 million and a well-deserved but unexpected MBE in 2015.Two years later, he established the Michael Josephson Charity Summer Ball at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate. 400 guests at the star-studded 2018 and 2019 events raised a further £574k. Of this, on June 29th this year, a jaw-dropping £318,900 was pledged to Variety, the Children’s Charity, the Seashell Trust and Esther Rantzen’s The Silver Line. Then four days later, on July 3rd, Michael nipped down south to accept the Freedom of the City of London from the Lord Chamberlain.
Supporting every age group
Michael says, “My odds of surviving without brain damage and of walking again were negligible. You can understand my motivation and mission to provide help wherever it’s most required. Luckily, not every child suffers abuse or bereavement, but odds are, many of us nowadays can expect to grow old.”
After the NSPCC took over Childline in 2006, founder Esther Rantzen created The Silver Line, her 365-day call-in for the elderly. Trustee Michael adds, “We’re living longer, yet it’s difficult attracting donations for older people’s causes. Survivors face loneliness and neglect. My legacy is to help and reach as many people as possible.”
Charity Ball 2020
You’ve probably guessed plans for the Summer Ball 2020 on June 6th at the Hilton are well under way. If the wellbeing of our more vulnerable members of society concerns you, please note the date. Rest assured, every penny collected goes directly to the chosen causes. Michael Josephson insists on it – and so it will be.
Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0161 855 6999.