This life: Moving stories

MICHAEL McCarthy, works in the family business McCarthy's, one of the oldest and best known removals companies in Leeds.

Now 34 he's been shifting furniture, among many other things, with his father Mick since he was 13 years old and is now director alongside his mother Margaret.

He has two brothers who now live in London.

Mick and Margaret started the business with just one vehicle in 1970, now they have a fleet of 15 and 50 employees at their base on Meanwood Road in Meanwood.

As well as conventional work of any size they also carry out specialist jobs and have been hired by the likes of the Royal Armouries and fine art auctioneers Bonhams to move precious items.


Born in Roundhay and raised entirely in Leeds Michael McCarthy started working with the company when he was still a pupil at Leeds Grammar School.

After university he first joined Next Plc opening overseas stores but didn't enjoy working for such a large corporation and quickly left.

He then joined a recruitment company but left after just six days.

Instead he decided to return home and help expand the family business which, while maintaining its core domestic removals market, has now moved into commerical removals, serviced offices and self-storage.

He now lives in Bramham with Shelley, his girlfriend of two years.

We've moved some pretty strange things over the years including a life-size fibre glass dinosaurs for an American museum which brought a tour to Britain, starting in Leeds.

We also worked for Flamingo Land shifting dolphins which we had to regularly spray with water as they were held up in hammocks – though not at the same time of course.

About 30 years ago my dad visited a house in Meanwood to quote for the move and there was a lion in a cage in the back garden – suffice to say we didn't move the lion, so we never quite got to the bottom of what it was doing there in the first place, though I'm sure it wouldn't be allowed these days since someone would probably report it to the RSPCA or the Health and Safety Executive.

We've also moved lots of famous people too. Mainly celebrities and sports stars including all the ex-Leeds footballers after living the dream. For obvious reasons some people wouldn't wish to be mentioned but Corinne Bailey Rae was a really cool lady.

One of the most unusual moves we did was to relocate a couple down to Brighton. As soon as we had unloaded the vehicle they decided they didn't like the place and we moved them straight back to Leeds

– Glorious Yorkshire!

The best things about Leeds are the friendly people, the fact that it's so close to the countryside, Leeds United of course and Tetley Bitter.

One of my most embarrassing moments came when I was an undergraduate working for Next and I was lucky enough to be on a lingerie photo shoot.

I was to give some clothes to the model so I just handed her some skimpy underwear and sat back down, then the photographer came over and, it turns out, I was meant to give her a dressing gown as well to cover herself up.

My philosophy on life is that we're here for a good time, not a long time. Life is not a dress rehearsal!

The best piece of advice I've ever received is: If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.

My childhood was very happy. I enjoyed school although I wasn't very academic.

I was too busy undercutting the tuck shop selling sweets, crisps and cold drinks – this was put to an end when my teacher wanted to know why I had three sports bags and four lockers full of confectionary.

I made some great friends who I still socialise with today.

My first love/crush/kiss was with Angela Moore aged six at primary school

If I could meet one person alive or dead it would have to be Muhammad Ali.

He's such an inspirational figure and just seems to transcend any kind of culture or belief.

I think the whole world can relate to him and his achievements, not just in the past but also now retaining a public face despite having Parkinsons.

The one thing I couldn't live without has to be my family because we really are a close family business.

I miss my brothers because they're down in London but we try and meet up regularly.

The thing I'm most proud of is playing rugby for England Under 18s at Twickenham against Australia in 1991.

I've played rugby since I was about seven years old and went on to captain the Yorkshire Under 18s and played for the England Under 18s with Matt Dawson, Richard Hill and Will Greenwood.

Tell us a joke: Welsh rugby

Favourite things...

Food: Italian

Film: Cocktail

Music: Country, Irish and especially The Saw Doctors

Author: Ian Rankin – The Rebus novels

Actor: Steve McQueen

Star sign: Capricorn

Andy Thorburn of EMIS

EMIS failed to meet certain service levels and reporting obligations with NHS Digital, CEO says