When I joined Fulmer Research in 1974 it was my first real job after leaving school. School and I were not well suited. I had succeeded in getting to ‘A’ levels without doing any work but this approach was not so successful when it came to exams.
With no real plan, other than a realisation that I needed a job and I should probably get some form of qualification, I responded to an advert for a technician in the local paper. I was invited to an interview and found myself employed by the Fulmer Research Institute, working in the Metallurgy Lab.
It was agreed that I could attend college as a day release student. No particular course was specified so I started to study mechanical engineering at Slough College. With Fulmer’s support my old school also agreed to allow me to resit my ‘A’ levels. This time, with a little effort, I was successful. University was now a possibility but since Fulmer was happy to carry on supporting me, I decided to stick with day release as this meant I could study and be paid.
The ‘A’ levels allowed me to jump ahead and again with no requirements from Fulmer I found a place on a HNC engineering course at what was then Buckinghamshire College of Higher Education in High Wycombe. This ‘informal apprenticeship’ worked very well for me and two years later I not only received the HNC but I was also awarded a national prize by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and Fulmer presented me with a fine reference book that has since seen a lot of use.
Fulmer were also happy for me to continue with my studies. Part time degree courses were however already in decline and with few to choose from I enrolled on a course in Metallurgy and Material Science at the City of London Polytechnic. Fulmer not only paid for the course but covered the cost of travel to London one day a week.
About a year later I moved within Fulmer from the Metallurgy Lab and joined the Technical Services department.
I remained with Technical Services until 1980, when I decided it was time to move on.
Once again, I responded to a newspaper advert, joining Sealol, the UK division of a US company that had recently been acquired the by large corporation, EG&G. I still had one year to go to complete the degree course. Sealol, not only agreed that I could continue but supported me, and in 1981 I was awarded a First in Metallurgy and Material Science.
After a disastrous school performance, thanks in no small part to Fulmer Research I was in a position to follow an enjoyable and successful career. I stayed with Sealol in its different guises for the next 25 years. I had a variety of roles in engineering and management in the UK and the USA before taking control as Managing Director of operations in Singapore and Indonesia.
Then at the end of 2005, following a divestiture, my services were no longer required.
Back in the UK I joined the nanotechnology division of Oxford Instruments, managing their new product development. Toward the end of 2009, thanks to the ‘global recession’, my services were, for the second time, no longer needed. After considering the options, at the ripe old age of 55 I decided I had contributed more than enough to the corporate world and ‘retired’.
These days between holidays and cruising the canals I keep myself out of trouble as a volunteer representing consumers on European and International committees responsible for standards. I am also a charity trustee and chair of a society who look after the local Common, and I support the occasional membership application and accreditation visit for IOM3.
For a variety of reasons, I had over the years maintained a connection with Buckinghamshire College of Higher Education. After my time in Asia I was invited to join its Governing Council and I had the privilege to support its transition to Buckinghamshire New University. My links to Bucks New University continue to this day, now as a trustee of the Student Union.
Who knows where I would have ended up had I not stumbled upon the Fulmer Research Institute? There were few if any other organisations that were so open and flexible with day release study and probably no others with such a variation of experiences to be had. Today I doubt there are any. One person in particular deserves the most credit, Ron Lewin. He was responsible for personnel issues and consistently encouraged and supported not only me but all the other technicians at Fulmer.
In 2014 I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate, my approach to school work had paid off…