Former senior police officer teams up with ex criminal in a bid at inspiring others to make life changes

L-R: Stephen Gillen and Kul Mahay

A former police chief superintendent who spent more than 30 years with Derbyshire Constabulary has teamed up with an ex-senior criminal who was once considered a threat to national security, in a bid to inspire others to make life changes.

Kul Mahay retired from the force in 2015 after spending 32 years with Derbyshire Constabulary. At one point in his career, the 53-year-old was one of the most senior Asian police officers in the UK.

Since leaving the police force, Kul has built himself a new career as a leadership coach, trainer and motivational speaker – and is now working alongside Stephen Gillen; a former senior criminal who spent 17 years in a category A prison which houses males who, if they were to escape, pose the most threat to the public, police or national security.

Both men were born into similar communities but went on to live very different lives. The pair recently spoke of their experiences at Derby’s DEDA, in Chapel Street, and are now planning to travel across the UK talking to business leaders and sharing their stories.

“At one time, Stephen and I would be considered enemies; one trying to capture and the other trying to do everything in their power to evade capture,” said Kul, who lives in Derby with wife Taj.

“We both had very similar upbringings but, at certain points in our lives, we chose different paths. We want to get the message across that you shouldn’t let your past set out who you are; you can’t change your past but you can create a wonderful future.”

The pair are calling their venture ‘Two Extremes’ and they are already confirming dates in Glasgow and London, where they will be speaking at Lancaster Gate, by invite from the UK Director of the Universal Peace Federation, Margaret Ali and Secretary-General, Robin Marsh. Their story has attracted the attention of TV and radio producers who are also interested in sharing their story with the nation. They are also working on a feature film production based on their life stories which is designed to inspire others to pursue their dreams.

“The event was a huge success and I’m delighted that Stephen and I will be rolling out ‘Two Extremes’ nationwide,” added Kul.

“Our aim is to do one city every month, but my roots will always be in my home city of Derby. In January, I will be hosting an event – called Ignite Your Inner Potential – at the Riverside Centre in Derby, where more than 450 people are expected.

“Last year’s event attracted a real mix of people from successful business owners to groups of police officers, families and everyday folk. The youngest attendee was just five and the oldest 70. We are expecting more people in 2020 – we even have people coming from overseas.”

Born in the Wolverhampton of Indian Punjabi Sikh heritage, Kul applied to become a police cadet aged 16. Turned down by 26 forces, Kul’s persistence paid off when, at the 27th attempt, he was accepted by Derbyshire Constabulary.

“I was persistent and delighted to be accepted by the 27th force I applied to, which was Derbyshire. I have loved Derbyshire very much, which is why I’ve stayed here and why I want Derby to be at the heart of all of my projects.

“I remember the first time my dad dropped me off at the Derbyshire Police headquarters in Ripley. Coming from Wolverhampton, as I did at the time, it was the first time in my life that I’d seen a heard of cows in a field!”

Kul thoroughly enjoyed his time in the force, rising through the ranks to become Superintendent and, then, temporary Chief Superintendent.

“Right from the age of 10, I dreamed of becoming a police officer,” he recalls.

“I used to sit on a wall in my street in Wolverhampton and watch the crowds flocking to the Molineux Stadium, home of Wolverhampton Wanderers. It wasn’t the football fans I was watching; it was the police.

“To me, their uniforms represented safety, responsibility and respect. I became addicted to watching TV programmes like Z Cars and Juliet Bravo. Anything that had police uniforms in, I watched.

“I believe that, in this country, we have the best police service in the world and I believe that, when you have a passion for something, you can achieve it.”

Kul has worked on some high-profile crime cases during his time with the police before leaving the force in 2015 to become a leadership coach. In 2016 he met Stephen Gillen at an event in London he was asked to speak at, and the pair struck up an unlikely friendship.

“Like me, Stephen grew up in East London” said Kul, “but his path took a very different direction to mine.

“Stephen has turned his life around and his talks are really inspiring. I am thrilled to be working with him and taking our ‘Two Extremes’ talk on the road.

“But first I am working on making Ignite Your Inner Potential a success in Derby.

“The event is for anyone who wants to make a change in 2020. It has always been a dream of mine to create a ripple effect of positive mindset across the UK and to think that we have international attendees this year is simply unbelievable.”

Tickets for the Ignite Your Inner Potential event are now on sale. Details: