My passion for gadgets started at a very early age too, although back in the mid to late 1970s the ‘gadgets’ weren’t quite as sophisticated as they are today! My father had renal failure in his early twenties (I think I was about 2 at the time) and used to have to dialyse (being hooked up to a kidney machine) for 15 hours at a time, three times a week. I remember being totally fascinated by all the dials and lights on the kidney machine, which at that time was the size of a large upright fridge-freezer, and very soon learnt the function of every button, dial and display. A maintenance chap visited once a month and I would bombard him with questions like ‘What’s that for?’, ‘How does that work?’ etc. Looking back I can see how this could have been quite irritating but I don’t think he was too bothered as he would often bring me a box full of old printed circuit boards and components for me to explore and dissect!
Wildlife took a bit of a backseat in my teenage years if I’m honest and the term ‘bird watching’ took on a slightly different meaning. As the lure of girls, beer and music took over wildlife didn’t seem ‘cool’ enough anymore! The interest still lingered but if there was a choice between going into town with my mates or popping to a local reserve to do a spot of bird watching then mates and town usually won.
My obsession with electronics and design grew though and at the age of 16 I enrolled in an HND Industrial Design course at a local college. I absolutely loved it, the first few weeks anyway. Unfortunately my father’s health deteriorated rapidly during those same weeks. I wanted to spend more time at home to help my mother look after him so dropped out of the course and found a full time job. My father died a few months later.
With boundless ideas and ambition raging through me I continued to develop my career in electronics and product design and development. I studied HND Electronics and Communications, trained as a PCB design engineer and eventually found myself working as an R&D engineer for one of the world’s most renowned photographic flash manufacturers. I remained at the company for over ten years, developing new skills and changing role from time to time. I moved from R&D to become Production Manager looking after up to 100+ staff and also took on the role of Quality Manager qualifying as an ISO 9001 Lead Auditor.