In my previous post, I explained a bit about the moment I was offered the chance to join McLaren, the opportunity to do something new and exciting in my career, but what I didn’t know then was how much it would change the direction in my life. Looking back that was the exact moment that lead to where I am now, owning my own business in Singapore. (Not to mention the wife and child too).
But to understand why it was so important and why it meant so much professionally I should probably explain where I’d come from and how I’d managed to get to the point that would allow me to jam my foot in the door of the exciting (or sometimes not so) world of luxury automotive.
My family moved to Tonbridge in Kent when I was about 8 years old. I was rubbish at school, I hated almost every minute of it. The only subject I enjoyed was sports and CDT (Craft, Design and Technology), the rest was just a chore.
I lived a 5 minute walk from the school gates so in my last year at secondary school I used to walk in, register my attendance, walk out then wait at the end of the road until my Mum drove off to work then go home and watch TV. Needless to say my GCSE results reflected my lack of dedication. But at the same time I wasn’t the worst in my year.
I was 16 years old so I made the decision to leave school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, nobody even mentioned university, I thought that was only for posh kids! So I got a job in the local sports centre, setting up equipment, events, cleaning, chatting to old people and eating crisps.
I also got a job at the golf course where my brother worked, he was in the pro-shop studying to be a pro golfer.. I was in the cafe! The Sausage Rolls and the Cornish Pasties were amazing!
I was also in the Air Training Corps, the RAF Air Cadets, which kept me busy and gave me many incredible experiences including the opportunity to learn to fly Gliders leading to me doing my first solo flight still aged 16.
It was some friends at Cadets that dragged me to a job fair in the town and there I saw an advert for an apprentice mechanic for a race car team. Something clicked, this could be fun.!
I’ve always loved cars, I was so eager to get on the road that I passed my driving test a week after my 17th birthday. And I loved watching F1 on TV, maybe this is what I should be doing?!
I applied for the job and had an interview with the vocational training company that was responsible for this placement. I was apparently too late for that position but they had another apprentice mechanic role and a small independent workshop nearby and set up and interview for me there the following week.
This little garage specialised in servicing and restoration of classic cars, they also had a 1970’s F2 car that the owner raced on the weekends.
He offered me the job on the spot and I started the following week..