ONE of the founders of a worldwide multi-billion banking business has stepped down – to help grow an alpaca farm.

Paul Rippon has turned his attention to Heddon-based Barnacre Alpacas after initially founding the mobile bank Monzo.

Along with his wife Debbie, he lived in Otterburn, where they began to grow their business, before moving to a farm near Heddon-on-the-Wall three years ago.

After co-founding Monzo in 2015 and serving as deputy chief executive, Paul said he decided to leave the business to ‘enjoy life’.

“I’ve been working in financial services for 27 years and working away from home for the last eight years,” he said.

“At the same time Debbie has built our other business from scratch, Barnacre Alpacas.

“We moved to Northumberland in 2006 and the Tyne Valley is a great place for attracting people and growing the business.”

After the pair watched a Michael Palin travel programme, which featured the animals, they took the plunge and initially bought three alpacas.

The 48-year-old added: “With no farming background or experience we now have more than 300 alpacas and welcome many visitors to our farm and holiday cottages.”

With 15 years of experience under their belts, the business has grown to become one of Tynedale’s most unique tourist attractions.

Paul and Debbie are also annual visitors to the Northumberland County Show, in Bywell, as well as other North-East shows.

Looking ahead to the future, Paul said: “You’ll find me doing the feed rounds and hosting alpaca walk ‘n’ talks.

“It’s my job to pay Debbie back some time from when I was away, and enjoy North-East life.”