A former Para who served in the Falklands and now Honorary Colonel of the 71 Engineer Regiment, Tony Banks is a highly successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, an impressive keynote speaker and author. An award winning businessman, he is Founder and Chairman of Scotland’s fastest growing residential care home provider Balhousie Care Group and passionately supports issues such as long term care of the elderly and mental health issues of war veterans.
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Tony Banks was considered a “bright” pupil and left school at 17, with seven O Grades and four Highers to study for a BA in accountancy at the University of Abertay. However, soon after starting the course, he spotted an advert in the local newspaper for the Territorial Army Parachute Regiment and signed up to supplement his student grant. Tony loved every aspect of his involvement with the elite regiment, from the punishing physical training to the camaraderie of all his great friends who were fellow recruits, all were drawn from all walks of life. To his parents' dismay, he decided to abandon his university course to join the regular army and prove that he was worthy of the Parachute Regiment`s maroon beret.
Within months of completing his formal training, Tony found himself with 2 Para fighting in the Falklands, where he witnessed first-hand the horror of war, including the death of one of his closest mates and the psychological damage suffered by several of his comrades. It was a life-changing experience that shaped his commitment to care for fellow human beings. It's also where his drive to make the most of every opportunity that life presented to him, stemmed from.
When Tony returned to Britain at the end of The Falkland`s conflict, he served with the parachute field ambulance before making another radical career move. In 1987, at the suggestion of a friend, he decided to become an insurance salesman in Aldershot. The experience opened his eyes to the world of commerce and finance and, having proved himself a success in the insurance sector, he decided to move back to Scotland and launch his own business. He returned to Scotland and it was here that he made the decision that would take the next great leap of faith, and followed his instincts and hunches. While working as a medic on the oil rigs, he used his time off to research the provision of care for the elderly and he realised that the private care home sector did not have the capacity to cope with Britain's ageing population. Using the money from savings, sale of his house in Aldershot and gifting from family, he bought his first care home, Balhousie Lisden in Kirriemuir, in 1991. From modest beginnings with a 31-bed care home, Balhousie Care Group is now one of Scotland`s most successful residential care providers, with 22 homes in Scotland providing accommodation for up to 850. They also employ 800+ people which makes Balhousie Care Group one of the biggest employers in the region – a responsibility that Tony Banks doesn't take lightly! Apart from his working life at Balhousie Care, his sits on the board of the Scottish Entrepreneurial Exchange and Combat Stress (which he's very passionate about) and as a result occasionally gets to rub shoulders with the likes of HRH Prince of Wales and Sir Richard Branson.
He was nominated for (and won) a number of entrepreneurial awards over the years, including Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (he won the 2011 Scottish award for Customer Service). Also, he has had the great honour to be a finalist for fundraiser of the year 2011 at the Daily Record Hero Annual Awards. He believes that awards are only important to him when they serve to acknowledge that his peers, and people he respects in business, believe he is doing a good job and working in a healthy, productive and valuable way that benefits society in general.
His is not, however, the story of a man born with a "silver spoon" in his mouth. Rather, it is a classic tale of a very normal Scottish guy, with a heap of healthy ambitions who found a way to make those ambitions become reality. He had to be street wise to survive. Early in life he developed an ability to be energetic and focused in business and also found that he had raw, natural entrepreneurial flair that came about as a result of all the experiences he’d had before he was 30.
His story can serve to inspire and motivate almost everyone that hears or reads it. Because, as he's often heard saying “every day is a school day – we never stop learning”. What he has learned is that if you set your heart, energy, beliefs and absolute commitment to achieve something – the chances are you will succeed.
Subjects include Business, entrepreneurship, philanthropy, Care Homes, the elderly, running secure units for young people with mental problems, metal health issues, Combat Stress, Football, Celtic FC, the Falklands War, 2 Para Regiment, suicide, loosing two siblings, Virgin Galactic, travelling, going on retreats, helicopters, divorce, supporting enterprise thro Princes trust and Young Enterprise Scotland, and supports Combat Stress, CHAZ and Virgin Unite charities.