A BARNSLEY couple who have built up one of the region’s best-known heating companies are handing over to the next generation of their family after 43 years at the helm.

Chris and Beryl Bumford started Bumford Heating in 1968 but they are now handing the company over to new managing director Neil, 38, their eldest son, and finance director, daughter Anna Kirby, 35.

Chris and Beryl were living in Sheffield when plumber Chris decided to set up his own business with a bank loan for £250. His first few jobs were for friends but slowly the business grew and Beryl joined full-time.

By 1983, now with four children, the couple moved their outfit to Hoyland in Barnsley. The workforce was mostly engaged on British Coal-funded projects for miners’ homes. However this meant that the Miners’ Strike in 1984 hit hard and almost sent the venture under. But it clawed back business through fitting gas central heating for new housing and now even sells plumbing and heating supplies online as far afield as New Zealand, Dubai and the United States.

Chris said: “When I first started out, I don’t think I had any idea what a long, hard slog running a business was going to be. We’ve both worked very long hours and, for a number of years, went without a proper holiday. There have been some really tough times when our home was held against our bank overdraft but we’ve succeeded.

“I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned, and I’m very much still learning, is that you have to prepared to change as challenges come along.”

Specialists from business support organisation Enterprising Barnsley have provided coaching to help Bumford Heating grow further. This has included sales and HR support.