Aged 30, he was the youngest candidate in the race to be Tees Valley Mayor.
But who is Ben Houchen ?
He’s lived on Teesside (or Tees Valley?) all his life, grew up in one of the first 100 houses on the fledgling Ingleby Barwick estate, attended Conyers School in Yarm, where he soon realised he wanted to go to university and study law – which he did, 40 miles up the road at Newcastle’s Northumbria University.
A love of sport
As a teenager, he was a member of the Leeds Carnegie and England RFU development squads – only for three fractured vertebrae to stop him playing for a year and scupper his rugby dreams.
But sport is part of his family’s DNA, with his Fred Perry-coached grandmother reaching the first round of Wimbledon and his uncle, ex-professional footballer Keith Houchen, scoring the winning goal for Coventry City in the 1987 FA Cup Final, above.
And his own sports links were re-established when, as a corporate solicitor, he hooked up with Australia’s BLK (it stands for Beyond Limits Known) sports brand. He’s now chief executive of its Stockton-based UK arm.
Since graduating from Northumbria Uni, the trained solicitor has worked for two Teesside law firms, specialising in commercial litigation and employment law. But his Twitter profile says he’s now “non-practising”.
And a love of politics
Leader of the Conservative Group on Stockton Council, he has represented the Yarm and Kirklevington ward since 2011 and was selected as the Tories’ mayoral candidate after impressing party members with his plans for “change where it’s needed and continuity where it works”.
But he’s had parliamentary ambitions too. In 2012, after the death of Sir Stuart Bell, he stood in the Middlesbrough Parliamentary by-election, but finished fourth of eight candidates after polling 1,063 votes. He also stood in the 2014 European Parliamentary election with fellow Tories Martin Callanan and Andrew Lee – and in 2010 and 2015, campaigned strongly to help his friend James Wharton bag the Stockton South seat in the UK General Elections.
Bits and pieces
* He’s married to Rachel, the head of his languages at his old school, Conyers, and his dad’s a policeman.
* In one of his mayoral election leaflets, he said he planned to campaign for the humble parmo to receive Protected Designation of Origin status (PDO) – legislation that currently protects the likes of Champagne and Camembert.
* He worked eight hours a week in a pizza takeaway shop while at school, earning £15 – and a free pizza on a Saturday.