Meet The Team
For our crew training exercise on Loch Fad on the Isle of Bute in August 2018 we were joined by all sorts of other people who rolled their sleeves up, got their feet wet, and generally gave us all sorts of help that we really appreciated; a special few are mentioned here
Sal Cartwright was early living proof that the Bluebird Project is an equal opportunities employer, being one of only two female mixed gas rebreather divers to have worked on the project, and she carried out as many dives as anyone in that dark water during the original recovery in 2001. When she wasn’t getting cold and wet with us at weekends, Sal did something with horses though we never did quite find out what it was; anyway that's what she told us and it was a convenient way to explain the collection of whips in the back of her van! Never far from the water in the subsequent years, Sally rejoined us for the trip to Bute, acting as our Chief Safety Diver.
Custodian of Loch Fad Fisheries, few people did more to promote and facilitate our stay on the island than Jimmy; he even skippered the start boat on every run and we're almost sorry that we hosed him down with warm jet efflux spray that first time...almost! There really aren't the words- thank you Jimmy!
'Jersey' Mike Slous
'Jersey Mike' started off as a long-time generous supporter of the project but really came into his own when we went up to Bute; he brought so much in the way of tools and equipment with him that we arrived to find Jimmy's boat shed already fully kitted out and nearly everything we'd brought up with us from home stayed on the van for a fortnight! No matter what tool you needed Mike was there, and he was always in the thick of every launch and recovery; and if that wasn't enough, he stayed next to the boat every night for a fortnight to act as night watchman, too. Legend!
'PRH' or 'Kerosene Pete' is a friend of old from Bill's days in the automotive industry; recently retired from Jaguar-Landrover, it was Peter who ensured that the RAF's top display teams all drove a suitable mark of vehicle, and it was at one of his corporate days with the Red Arrows that we met and took on our second driver, Stew. Peter became our 'Mr Fixit' on Bute, rapidly sourcing some of the good stuff for our little engine to run on when we had none, driving the launch and recovery vehicle for our second week, and generally immediately endearing himself to all he met.
'Cockney' (he's actually nothing of the sort) Chris is a friend of old, a hugely talented welder and thoroughly likeable geezer who has been to the workshop on numerous occasions to lend a hand over the years, finally culminating in his employer Pro-Alloy taking on the task of rebuilding Bluebird's original fuel tank. Chris joined in on Bute whenever a hand was needed, be it putting screws into the engine cover, or giving a hefty push whenever we launched the boat.
Andy (left) and Tom both worked at Aero Engine Controls and were involved from the off with the daring project to rebuild the complex original hydro-mechanical fuel system which had sat at the bottom of Coniston for 34 years. They've stayed in touch ever since and came up to see us on Bute off their own backs and soon got roped in to the pushing and pulling like everybody else; we're honoured to have such clever friends!
Operating with Sally we had a great team of divers who manned the second safety boat, helped crew the start boat in the second week, and generaly lent a hand wherever needed- they were an exemplary bunch to work with. From left to right- Paul Clarke, Phil Kinsman, Sally, Jeff Grozier, Bill and Ted, and Paul Womack.
'Army' Stew Vandal
Stew was part of 102 Squadron Royal Engineers, who graded Jimmy's slipway and put in our launch matting for us; he stayed with us for the first week on site and was a great pair of hands, be it the inevitable help at launch and recovery time, or assisting with refuelling the boat.
Another friend of old of Bill's, Rich too threw himself into helping heave the boat into the water every time, and other jobs around the boatshed, such as the dreaded engine cover!
Usually we take our own pictures but knowing that we'd have our hands full and that it would be better to have someone who's sole purpose it was to get in the way with a camera, we immediately thought of Phil- a speed enthusiast of long standing who's passion was originally ignited by Donald Campbell and Bluebird K7.
Now here is a man with a responsibility...Duncan drove all the way to North Shields from Bute, picked Bluebird up- literally- and took her back to Scotland and across on the ferry. And then paraded her along the promenade...and then took her down to the Loch...and unloaded her into her new boat shed...then took her to the Highland Games...and to Mount Stuart house...and back to the Loch...and then finally, back to North Shields, where such was his skill with his crane that Bluebird was already half in the doorway to the workshop when he set her down for the final time. Next time she has to go anywhere, there will probably be a mutiny if it's not Duncan that takes her!
Duncan works with his brother Barry at Bute Blacksmiths Ltd, who very kindly provided us with workshop facilities and somewhere to plug in our compressor for charging our starting air.