A BARNSLEY businessman who grew up on a council estate – but now has a property portfolio worth well over £1m – has picked up the top gong at a national award show.

James Youel, 35, of Smithies, took home one of the biggest accolades of Property Investors’ annual dinner and awards show after being names Property Investor of the Year.

He received his cut glass trophy and certificate from Samuel Leeds, the multi-millionaire property entrepreneur and founder of Property Investors.

James specialises in turning large rundown houses in his home town into HMOs and then refinancing and renting them out.

A gas plumber by trade, he already had some experience of the industry when he joined the Property Investors Academy two years ago.

By his own admission, however, it was going ‘terribly’.

Since then the former St Michael’s RC Secondary School pupil has gone from strength to strength.

He now has five properties, valued at £1.3m, including a ten-bed house share, and is continuing to expand his portfolio.

Having grown up on a council estate in Worsbrough Bridge, James says he has to pinch himself sometimes because these figures seem ‘surreal’ to him.

“My life is going to a place I never knew was possible for someone like me,” he added.

“I can’t believe we’re in this situation, but then my wife Rebecca says it’s because I’ve put so much time and effort into it.

“My next goals are to expand my house shares and also to turn rundown properties into high spec places for the elderly where they can spend their final days in dignity and comfort.”