Meet The Team
Robert ‘Checkie Rob’ White first came to the workshop in 2009. A radio communications engineer by trade with a particular interest in restoring K7’s wiring, poor Checkie (so named because of his penchant for chequered shirts) was instead presented with a never ending stream of things to paint strip, patches to make, and things to file before finally, at last, we decided that it wouldn’t hurt to have some elastic-trickery installed in the boat. The good-humoured butt of many a joke, Checkie once manfully aimed his laser RPM sensor up the back end of an old Orpheus while we span it up to start speed…and dumped a load of talcum powder through the front of it. (See photo) In the summer months Checkie will often appear on some monster motor bike clad head to toe in leather, before removing his helmet and reminding us that he really is ‘Born To Be Mild’; Checkie has hung up his voltmeter now but is never far away when we have a query, or a blown fuse or five!
Almost impossible to photograph due to his outrageous hair, Jon has been coming to the workshop since 2012, having followed the team’s activities since the boat was brought ashore. He’s had a crack at most things in life from heavy construction work to landscape gardening, but says that few things have given him the satisfaction that he’s had from working on the big tin boat, where he worked alongside Checkie in the wireology department.
Louise effectively joined the team in the dim and distant days of 2001, just subsequent to Bluebird’s recovery, as an eager young student looking to interview someone in the restoration world. Unfortunately for her she found Bill, but fortunately for us we eventually ended up with our very own fully qualified pet museum conservator and Lou has been with us off and on ever since. Lou has conserved various parts of Bluebird for museum display and has liaised on the project’s behalf with other museological type places such as the Mary Rose Trust.
‘Ah’ve never sin this bugger in one piece,” Alan observed in his rich Cumbrian accent when first he clapped eyes upon Bluebird’s scantily clad frame more than fifty years after he’d first worked on her.
As a 19 year-old apprentice panel beater for J Bendall & Sons of Carlisle, and under the watchful eye of Leo Villa, Alan did his bit first time around helping to make a silk purse of Donald’s sow’s ear of a boat during the summer of 1955.
In more recent times, Alan became one of the very few, master blacksmiths worldwide invited to contribute a piece for the gates of the Globe Theatre in London, for which he crafted a fabulous bunch of steel crab apples – so how he ended up in a workshop full of amateurs is anyone’s guess.
But it’s as well that he did.
With a trick of the trade for every situation, a simple way of doing everything and a treasure trove of handy tools, Doddy is definitely one of the lads; he's hung up his hammers now, but his contribution to the project will always be invaluable- and he's finally seen the bugger in one piece, too.
Mike started in 2006 as a long-distance honorary team member/odd job man by designing DVD covers, sourcing cockpit parts and creating the new cockpit seat for K7. Finally, at the start of 2009, he packed his life up and moved 300 miles to permanently join his friends and the big tin boat, where he’s now a workshop regular. Particularly responsible for the boat’s cockpit and for generally making sure that she looks right historically, Mike is more often than not to be found interminably staring at archive photos for hours on end before turning back to the boat to exactly position…a solitary screw. Mike also creates all of our YouTube content and helps with the online shop; on Bute, he lead the post-run inspections of the boat.
One Saturday in 2012 Bill wandered outside and found a self-confessed ‘Bluebird Project groupie’ loitering about in the road. Professing to be a fan of the diary and immediately proving it by answering ‘the curry sauce’ when quizzed as to her favourite story, we took Gillian in for the day and thereafter decided that she was clearly just the kind of slightly odd waif and stray that does so well on the team and invited her back, and she’s been with us ever since- when, that is, there’s no rugby to be pursued. Gillian has proved very able at all sorts of things around the workshop and is the ruin of our waistlines with her supply of home baking; she meticulously kept a record of every run the boat made while operating on Loch Fad including recording the first-hand comments from the drivers straight after each run.