It wasn’t supposed to be like this… I wasn’t supposed to be where I am today, but I am, and there’s nothing I can do about it apart from dig in and make the most of the alternative opportunities that I wasn’t expecting.
I have always been a fixer (or tried to be!); I used to repair broken Walkmans or stereos in my early teens. I remember my dad giving me the use of his soldering iron and other tools and that was Martin’s workshop set up. The 80s was my era for growth, both with business, engineering and just trying to help others make the most of what was then a very expensive purchase that would unfortunately break quite easily. My entrepreneurial instinct was born and I was the go-to kid to get things fixed.
Another influence was our neighbour, Colin. Colin was part of a banger racing team and I was always at his garage on a Sunday morning stripping cars, installing scaffolding and going for the occasional test drive on private land (much to my mum’s dismay!)
All I ever wanted to do was fix cars and get involved with motor vehicle engineering, and I also knew that this would take me into a world of motorsport too. It was a massive passion of mine, and it was something I just knew would happen, and what a chance and start I got at it too!
My parents were adamant that I got a job immediately after leaving school, I needed a trade behind me then I could go off and do anything I wanted and come back to it if I ever needed. I landed on my feet. I started a weekend job at a local Porsche racing team. As you would expect it was all sweeping and tea-making to start with, but things ramped up quickly and I was on body detail before I knew it. Alas it did not last; I had to get a “proper job”, so I did.
I left school on a Friday afternoon and started my first job as an apprentice motor vehicle engineer on the Monday morning. Again, I started with tea-making and lots of sweeping but before I knew it I was overhauling engines, stripping steering and suspension systems, welding and making modifications. It was a time where people slightly older than myself were driving RS Escorts, boosted Minis or tricked-up VW Beetles.
We were also carrying out MOT tests and all of this was giving me the knowledge that I craved, like a sponge I was taking it all in, learning more and more. And it was with all this education, and what I consider a natural ability to use my hands to fix things, that I took myself away from this workshop and went to work for another for more money. I had been headhunted and it felt fantastic!
I wasn’t there long and I had a fall, I slipped in the workshop, dislocated my knee and from there my life was going to change forever….…
My leg simply would not get better in the time expected and I was transferred from one hospital to another. 20 years ago, pretty much to this day, I was sat in a consultant’s room in a hospital in Oxford and I was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. I was told there was no treatment or cure for the condition, and I was also told I would need to change lots of things in my life, including the career and job that I had dreamt of and fallen in love with. All of this, and I had just met Michelle; the woman who I would spend the rest of my life with.
I knew that I had to be in a place where I could help myself and see what people were doing to find a solution for this problem that I had. I knew that I had to be in a different industry and all I knew was cars! So, naturally and quite quietly in my own time, that’s what I did.
I had a plan; it was to use all that I knew and transfer that to an office environment. I started as a collection and delivery driver for Volkswagen and luckily got a move into fleet car sales. This also gave me some I.T. skills, and when I was comfortable I used those to move into another profession and industry. This all took place over 15 years and I did have a few breaks and different jobs in between. Now I work in the Pharmaceutical industry and use my I.T. skills to help with clinical trials, and I can see progress in the industry for many different conditions including Cancer, Stroke, Alzheimer’s and, indeed, Muscular Dystrophy.
Now we’ve gone a bit full circle, as this week I will be fulfilling a dream that actually may not have been made possible without the diagnosis I received. I challenged myself to ‘Move a Mile for Muscles’ once a month in 2016 and one of those challenges was to race a BMW M3 around Brands Hatch; and now I will, all made possible with the help of such great friends.
My love of motor vehicle engineering, motorsport and speed has been jumpstarted and we go again!
|Keeping The Dream Alive - BMW M3|
It may not be much, it might not seem like a big deal, but we should never lose the passion for something we love and have a desire to do in whatever capacity. My miles around the track may not be in a competitive environment, but I’m doing my best to help myself and also now helping others. We have raised £7,346.87 so far this year and this equates to 209 hours of world class research into this condition.
My condition will not affect the person that I am or want to be, in fact, quite ironically as I get weaker, in many other respects I feel stronger, every day I feel more determined than ever. The dreams we have as children may not be a reality as adults, but we can fight to come close. My desire to keep moving is constantly increased, and with this, my smile broadens as those around me have faith and accompany me on these adventures that are making 2016 one of the best years of my life.
Move a Mile for Muscles in 2016. If I can, you can too!
You can make a donation here... https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Martin-Hywood3
You can follow me on Twitter here... https://twitter.com/HywoodMartin