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.
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
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.