Andrew Cook (Lancastrian School 1961-1967)

I joined the Lancastrian junior (1st year) school) in Orchard Street in 1961 from Singleton Primary School and was placed in the Ac stream as I had passed the 11 Plus but chose not to go on to Chi High or Midhurst Grammar.

From the second year onwards I was based in the Kingsham Road campus with, I think, Mr Lewis as Head Master, Mr Johns as Deputy Head and physics, Doug Harmsworth as English and Form Master, Pete Simmonds for Games plus others who escape me at the moment. I do not think my school years were particularly interesting; I played all the sports available but was never selected for any school teams (although I did subsequently play soccer for several local teams and for Wingard) and my academic achievements were definitely average but I did latterly become a prefect.

On leaving school in 1967 with eight GCE “O” Levels, I joined Wingard as an engineering apprentice, progressing through their full training schedule including the first year full-time and subsequent four years part-time at Chichester College collecting technical and supervisory/management qualifications en route. In 1969 I successfully represented Wingard as a member of the British Schools Exploring Society’s expedition to Newfoundland and was subsequently awarded membership of the Society which is now known as British Exploring.

After taking a break of circa nine months to travel round the Continent and gain life experience around boats, agriculture and timber milling, I rejoined Wingard as a Quality and Inspection Engineer, staying there until 1977 when I moved to Jaguar Rover Triumph (JRT) in Cardiff as a Plant Quality Engineer. Exactly one year later I moved to a smaller company in Weston-super-Mare which required a qualified automotive quality engineer on board to enable a large contract to be ratified – this was successfully completed and led to the Company becoming one of the major players in European automotive remanufacturing, a position which it has maintained to date.

I spent the following thirty-seven years moving through the Company, through various technical, commercial and management positions, including as a Director, representing it to global automotive engineering organisations and finally becoming part-owner with four colleagues when we bought the Company following the break-up of its previous holding group owner. During this time the business took me to most European countries and to the USA, China and Iran; this latter being very interesting and showing the extreme differences in Iranian culture at the time (1994) with constant anti-West/ant-US demonstrations countered by great personal relationships and interest in the West from the guys I worked with. Unfortunately, although Iran Khodro, the Iranian State car manufacturer was very interested in our products, we were eventually barred from supplying them due to various embargos by Western countries.

Since retirement in 2015, I have spent my time in the UK with family and friends, mainly in the West Country, enjoying sailing, shanty singing, renovating old mechanical assemblies particularly barometers and generally stepping back from business and industry although I am still in touch with a number of previous contacts across the world.

Its this availability of “spare” time which is allowing me to look back through the Old Cicestrians group, Flashback Chichester and Singleton Schooldays websites.