A BELFAST native is hoping to inspire young people just starting out on their business careers that anything is possible with his new book.

Leonard Nugent (60) grew up at the top of the New Lodge/Antrim Road area before leaving Belfast in 1974.

He started a one-man band construction business and from this humble start-up has grown into a multi-million pound group of companies operating in the South-East of England, known today as Lenmark Construction.

Leonard and his partner, Mary McBride from Beechmount, first met in Malta eight years ago and moved to Florida last December.

With the Covid-19 lockdown in place, Leonard decided to do something useful with his free time by writing his book, ‘Keep ‘Er Lit’.

“Lockdown started and I wanted to use the time positively to do something I wouldn’t normally have the time to do,” he explained.

“The idea behind the book is to help young lads from Belfast, like myself, who haven’t had a formal education and to learn about business.

“I started a business with myself and a wheelbarrow and I built it up to around £20 million turnover.

“Having made many mistakes and learned many lessons the hard way over the years, I wanted to show any young guys just starting off their business careers that anything is possible.


“If this guy can do it, so can you.

“Writing the book was a real learning curve. I didn’t have much of a real education when I was younger or took any exams.

“I just sat down and started writing. It came easy in a way because I just remembered things from the old days.

“I have had a lot of good feedback from everyone who has read it so far.

“I really hope people enjoy this book. I’ve spent many long days and nights these last few months labouring over a keyboard.

“If one person learns anything from my story, this book will have been a success.”


Leonard is no stranger to attempting new ventures. The Belfast couple embarked on and completed a trans-Atlantic voyage of a life-time last year in their  42 foot catamaran boat.

They also hiked a 2,600km Camino with just a rucksack from Lisbon in Portugal up the Atlantic coast to Santiago in Spain, then walked across the length of northern Spain across the Pyrenees mountains and down into France. They then walked up along the French Bay of Biscay to Bordeaux.

The arduous hike took almost three months, walking an average of 30km a day.

Indeed, a message from his aunt saying ‘Keep ’Er Lit’ inspired the title for this book.

All proceeds from the book are going to homeless charity Crawley Open House, based in Sussex in England.

“I was homeless myself in Dublin and it was a bad experience for me which has never left me,” added Leonard.

“Homelessness has always struck a chord with me.

“We are flying back to Belfast soon and walking 2,500km from Malin Head to Cork for our next adventure.

“We hope to finish by Christmas and all proceeds will go to the same charity.”

‘Keep ’Er Lit’ by Leonard Nugent is available from Amazon, priced at 10.99 for paperback. Also available to download for Kindle (£7.99).