John Squires (b. 1939) was born in Newcastle. In 1962 he joined his family’s business which sold used cars from a small garage in Byker. In 1964 he was made managing director and then, in 1964, he acquired Benfield Motors which became one of the region’s largest Volkswagen dealers. He subsequently grew the business to over 30 dealerships, employing 1500 people which generated sales in excess of £800k per annum. In 2005 he stepped back from running the business to allow his son Mark to take the reins. In 2015, he sold the business for £87 million to Lookers PLC.
He has been extremely prominent in the charitable sector, far before his he relinquished control of the business. Amongst his many previous roles, he has been Chair of the Community Foundation for Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, Chairman of the Newcastle Diocesan Board of Finance, Vice Chairman of The Sage Gateshead, Chairman of Universal Building Society, Chair of the Cathedral Trust and Deputy Lieutenant and former High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear.
In 1989, Squires established the Benfield Charitable Trust (now the Squires Foundation) which distributed donations which originated principally from his car business based on 5% of the firm’s pre-tax profit. He also has since established the Benfield Motors endowment fund at the Community Foundation.
John remains a trustee of the Squires Foundation, which from 2018-19 onwards aims to make £100k in grants each year. £60,000 of this will be in 2 or 3 sizable grants on the following themes: ‘overseas’, ‘disadvantage’ and ‘culture’. And £40,000 will be donated to the Community Foundation, as a revenue contribution to the Squires Foundation Fund (the renamed Benfield Motors Fund).
Together with the endowment income generated from previous gifts into the fund, it is expected that the Squires Foundation Fund will make £40k - £50 every year in small grants that tackle disadvantage in Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside. A panel comprising of between 6 and 9 family members meets twice a year to recommend grants, from shortlists prepared by Community Foundation staff. John is not on the panel but retains oversight on behalf of the Squires Foundation.
BBC. (2018). OBE’s, Available here (Accessed: 11/09/2018).
Charity Commission. (2014). The Benfield Motors Charitable Trust Annual Accounts 2014/5, Available here (Accessed: 11/09/2018).
Charity Commission. (2015). The Benfield Motors Charitable Trust Annual Accounts 2014/5, Available here (Accessed: 24/09/2018).
Lea, R. (2015). Alright, Squires: car dealer family earn £87m, The Times, September 4th 2015.
Richardson, A. (2015). North-East car dealer Benfield bought in £87.5 m deal, Available here (Accessed: 11/09/2018).
The Journal. (2013). Lifetime Achievement Award Winner: John Squires OBE, Available here (Accessed 11/09/2018).