During my teaching career of 17 years I taught Motor Engineering, Wood and Metalwork, Computing and Physics in a large Comprehensive in Bristol (UK). Those years brought many changes - the main one being the challenges of all the practical subjects being drawn together under the banner of 'Craft, Design and Technology'.
My interest in computing and control technology during my last few years as Head of CDT were exciting and demanding. Everything seemed to be 'new technology'.
When I had the chance of furthering my career in computing as Senior Manager for educational IT systems in the then, Cleveland County Council, it was a challenge I could not resist and took my wife Anne, daughters Emma and Sarah to the North. From 1989 to 1998 I was responsible for the management of IT Administration systems in Cleveland County Council and post the Local Government Reorganisation in 1996, within the Middlesbrough Borough Council.
After many years of back problems I underwent spinal surgery for the first time in 1995 and since then have had 4 (now 6! correction; now 7 (2013)!!) further spine operations. During this period I had to take early retirement and post recuperation I have had the opportunity to spend more time to explore the pleasures of changing the shape of wood through lathe turning.
My love of wood (and other materials) was in part down to my Father's similar interests but more so can be directly attributed to the enthusiasm of my very first woodwork teacher, Mr Thomas of Page Secondary School for Boys in Bristol (now flattened to make way for new homes - progress?). I can vividly remember at the age of 11 being totally inspired by his description as he planed a beautiful piece of red cedar saying we were about to see something no one had ever seen before - one stroke of a sharp plane - and there it was, a completely new view of that beautiful grain structure, and the sweet smell of cedar and the shaving being one continuous curl. The workshop had a very basic Boxford wood lathe that many a young lad had used and from then on my relaxation has been through turning.
For the last few years I was an active member of the Teesside Woodturners' Association, and as with all my contacts with other woodworkers, find those of this fraternity to be friendly, inspirational and non-confrontational people - yes men and woman, and how nice to see more and more ladies joining the experience. The most recent of changes in preparing for true retirement has been a move to a bungalow in Mere, Wiltshire. Even though the garage is small - 16' x 8'. I have had to make do and more recently have opened up access to the loft space from within the workshop. Wood turners have our own ways of doing things - there are no rights and wrongs, and we are all learners together, keen to share our experiences and try new ways of doing things. If I can inspire others in the delights of woodcraft either through their viewing of this web site, by looking at some of what I have made or by sharing my experiences then I couldn't be more pleased.
More recently I have had many orders to completely overhaul and refurbish lathes. So if yours is getting old or the bearings/motors have gone - give me a shout.
If you live in and around Mere in West Wiltshire and are interested in joining a new wood turning group please contact me if you want to know more at: firstname.lastname@example.org.