It came as no great surprise when our youngest son, Martin, followed his older brother Chris and became interested in the world of motorbikes. It was 1976 when Chris aged 17 bought his Honda CB125. Martin was 14 at that time. I recall Martin coming home one day on his pushbike and as he cycled into the rear garden of our house at Church Crookham, he was confronted with the sight of Chris’ nearly new Honda CB125 all alone, resting and shining in the sunshine. At that point, Martin had a Walter Mitty moment and after climbing onto Chris’ bike he drifted into a dream world where he was cruising along the leafy lanes of rural Hampshire and Surrey. This land of OZ was suddenly shattered when he was bought down to earth by the sound of someone banging on a window. That, someone, was his mother, Kathy, and she was ordering him to ‘remove yourself from that unpleasant contraption now’ or words of similar meaning but, shall we say, of a little more impolite nature? The sight of her youngest son following her eldest son down the motorbike route was just too much of a worry for her at that time.
In May 1978 Martin turned 16 and was legally allowed to ride a 50cc motorbike (called a moped). In March that year, a neighbour of ours had a 4 stroke Honda ss50 moped which he wanted to sell for £100. He also had a Haynes workshop instruction manual for the vehicle priced at only 50p. We purchased both vehicle and manual for Martin who spent the next two months reading the manual and tinkering with the bike before he ventured onto the road. As we lived near Aldershot it was fortunate that Martin was able to practice his skills on an army road in the woods behind our house. He became very proficient with his balance, clutch, throttle control and gear changes. The only downside was the army road was about a half a mile straight road which limited his chances of practicing his cornering skills. However, once out on the open road, after his 16th birthday, he soon mastered that skill too. Passing his motorbike driving test first time only a couple of months later. Indeed, one year later he also passed his car driving test at the first attempt. As indeed he did his advanced motorbike test several years later. A hattrick of firsts. What was his mother worried about?
His interest and love for motorbikes grew alongside Chris’ and they travelled many times together around the UK and Europe. At this point, I, like many parents, know it can take many years before we learn of some of the escapades their children got up to during their teenage years. Thankfully we all survived and followed the dictum that ‘boys will be boys’ and moved on.
It’s just as well Kathy didn’t know about some of the escapades he and Chris got up to on their many motorbike rides. She would have had a fit. The longest single ride Martin ever did was from his home in Hampshire to Montpellier in the south of France. This ride totalled 820 miles and he did it all in one day AND it rained all the way!
Another activity Martin and Chris got involved with was acting as ‘beaters’ on some pheasant shoots which were carried out locally. They were happy to receive £4 a day for their efforts but were a little disappointed when at the end of the day’s shoot the shooters divided the pheasants between themselves.
Besides Martin’s passion for motorbikes, he also took after me in his love for sport.
He played football, tennis, squash and golf. He also embarked on many outdoor activities such as fund-raising challenges, like hiking 130 miles of the pilgrim’s path of the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, a section of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, America and even Abseiling the spinnaker tower in Portsmouth. He once joined a crowd of 325 people at Canary Wharf in London, to complete an assault course all dressed as penguins. Making it the largest human penguin colony in the world. For this feat, a Guinness World Record.
But his greatest achievement was done more recently in 2015 when he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro which is nearly 20,000ft high. This feat and all the other charitable work he did for so many deserving causes has, so far, raised over £40,000 for many people young and old. It should be pointed out he has achieved all of this despite being an asthmatic. If you wish to see a short video of Martin’s climb up Killi, please click on the link:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?
After his early schooling days were over, he went on to serve a four-year apprenticeship, which included one day a week attendance at Basingstoke Technical College. At the end, he attained a City and Guilds Distinction in Mechanical Engineering. During his apprenticeship, he was employed as a Mechanical Engineer at Pilcon Engineering in Basingstoke, past of the Richard Costain Group. After qualifying he was promoted to section manager of the drilling department.
Other jobs he did later in his career included working for two years as a Pest Control Officer for W.H.Groves, Surbiton, Surrey. This interesting work may have been a somewhat unpleasant task in the eradication of various pests but it was a necessary job of vital importance for the health of the general public.
As the years passed Martin became interested in the world of finance. He studied and worked hard to gain many professional qualifications and awards. This led to him becoming a qualified Financial Advisor. These qualifications were put to good use when, in April 1996, he started his own business, opening an Estate Agents and Financial Services company called Chapplins. His business partner runs the estate agency, whilst Martin focuses on the financial services side, as well as the business structure itself. Today, Chapplins have four branches in Bordon, Fareham, Havant and Liss. All four are in Hampshire, Martin is located it the Bordon office.
At this point, I would like to say that both Kathy and I are immensely proud of our two sons for what they have achieved in their lives. They both studied and worked hard and by showing talent, enterprise and great initiative they eventually owned their own businesses. Chris had led the way by having the vision and courage to take the historic step of emigrating to Canada in April 1982 to work as a Chef. Chris later followed Martin’s ambitions of owning his own business by founding The British Touch in Shakespeare, Ontario.
Kathy and I are also very grateful for all the help, kindness, consideration and love our sons have shown us over the years. They have often surprised us by secretly arranging a celebration get together whether it’s to mark a birthday, anniversary or for some other event. We are so grateful and appreciative for all the time and trouble they take in arranging these outings. In addition to the above, we must also say we owe them an even bigger display of our very heartfelt gratitude for the part they played in giving us Nicole, Laura and Michael, our three lovely caring grandchildren, who are a credit to them.
--End of Part Fifty-Two--