Chapter 15


Becoming the M.D.


Early1994 saw our department move to West Auckland into a rented first floor office unit. The staff 6 now consisted of Jarlath Bancroft, John Atkinson 3 female staff Pam, Myrna, Judy and I. The Depot at Darlington was finally sold to Baron’s and we settled down to running the parks. About 12 months later I received a call from Head office Manchester asking me to go to see Alan Marston the Financial Director .I drove there not knowing what to expect but was asked in a round about sort of way would I be happy to continue running the parks on my own. I travelled back to West Auckland with all sorts of uncertainty running through my mind. When I walked into the office Jarlath got a phone call asking him to go straight down to Manchester. I went home and it was about 7pm.on a Friday evening when the phone rang and Jarleth told me that he had been finished and that I was to meet him at West Auckland in the morning and he was to hand over all the keys to me, I was to be the new M.D.
















 On the Monday morning Alan Marston arrived at West Auckland and asked me to sign a new contract with them, I was given a 25% increase in salary and my terms were increased to 6 months notice either side. These people had proved to be ruthless and I new I would have to watch my back and what did the future hold if any? I was now in my Fifties and I had eleven years to go to normal retirement age.

It was in Mid 1994 I was a little worried to find that I’d passed some blood and had an appointment to see a Specialist at Dryburn Hospital. He said that I had two small tears in my lower bowel and that it might be okay and it could possibly settle down, but he didn’t rule out that he might be seeing me sometime in the future, I didn’t think too much about it, I felt okay and never thought that I could be heading for a major illness.


I had for sometime been toying with the Idea of doing a genealogy study of the Worthington’s and made arrangements to visit my uncle Joe who lived in Haswell.

Joe was the last surviving uncle and he would be the best person to have a chat with.

We visited him one evening by arrangement and were very surprised that on that same night purely by chance, my cousin Edward from Darlington had also arranged to see Uncle Joe and he also was going to do a genealogy study. What a coincidence; Violet and I visited Wigan in Lancashire as part of our heritage trail and we spent many hours tracing record and thanks to Edward who became absolutely dedicated to the task we now have a family tree dating all the way back to the 13th century on record. Edward has created a web site which is well worth a visit. One of the interesting facts is that one of the brothers of our direct descendants a Richard de Worthington died at the battle of Agincourt in France on the 25th of October 1415 aged25

The Worthington Family of Worthington, Standish

The Worthington Family resided at the township called Worthington in Standish, Nr Wigan in Lancashire from about 1150, shortly after the Norman invasion of 1066.Their landholdings in the area were extensive and their country seat, Worthington Hall was built in 1577. At that time the village of Worthington was entirely rural and comprised a handful of cottages.

I had began to make rocking horses in early 1994 after seeing an advert by a company based in York I bought a set of plans showing the construction methods. I had over the years built up quite a collection of tools and also had a 36” lathe. I bought timber from John Boddy’s wood supplies at Boroughbridge and managed to complete the first Rocking Horse which became our Faye’s Christmas present. It met with approval from all of the family encouraged by this I immediately set about making a second one for Gemma, closely followed by a third one for our Bethany who was born the 25th Nov I995. I made 3 other horses for family friends Bob Reay and Dave Walker in 1996.


After taking over as the new M.D. of Burtree Parks I became increasingly aware of Lookers intentions to sell the company, their main core business was selling and servicing motor cars and they needed cash to spread their wings and lighten their borrowings. A call from head office on 22nd Dec.1995 confirmed my fears they were putting us up for sale and my instruction was to man the ship until the bitter end and receive a redundancy equivalent to one years salary. I didn’t have a lot of choice and pondered my future on the drive back from Manchester

I pulled into a lay by and phoned John Atkinson Our company accountant at West Auckland and asked him to set up a meeting with Barclays Bank to find out what was the procedure to try and buy out the business. I was put in touch with Ernst Young’s in Newcastle who specialised in company acquisitions. We had a meeting and they advised me to ask Lookers if it would be alright to put in a bid to buy the company. I did this and was told it would be alright just as long as I didn’t work against company interests. All of the money was to be raised by Barclays with other backers being 3 Is venture capitalists. I had to pay £3000 out of my own pocket and John Atkinson paid £1000 to put the offer on the table. Several other companies became embroiled in the sale and I was sick of showing would be buyers around the sites whilst trying to keep my own emotions and feelings under control. One particular group who specialised in buying into companies were forever on the phone to me and told me that they wanted me to run the business for them if their bid was successful. This company phoned me up 3 months after I’d left Burtree in 1997 and asked me if I fancied working for them. They wanted me to go out in the open market and buy some caravan parks and set up a new company. I declined the offer.

Burtree Parks were sold to a company called The Flower Of May Parks Ltd. run by a family on the east coast for approx £ 4.5 million. My offer was about £4 million. I finished work on14th March 1997 but I was contracted until 13th June.1997and came home feeling very bitter towards Lookers, after all a lot of people were now being made redundant and it transpired that the new owners were selling off some of the parks to others thereby fragmenting the business.