A rather special celebration took place at the weekend deep in the heartlands of the North East. On Saturday evening, a large crowd in the Village Hall in Premnay lay in wait in silence for the arrival of the unsuspecting headline guest, one Ken Wood Esq. The occasion? A surprise party to mark the incumbent's septuagenarian attainment.
In attendance were family and friends - plus additional friends from the worlds of aviation and rallying. The man has made his mark in both.
The three times Scottish Rally Champion was highly regarded both as a driver and an engineer throughout the 1980s. Indeed in the glory days of rallying when the works British Leyland Team Competitions Department headed north for the annual International Scottish Rally, their usual first port of call was the Golden Wonder Rally Team encampment.
This was a time when the giant car manufacturer's works team was building rally cars that could barely finish a rally while Ken Wood and Peter Brown were winning rallies and National titles, first in a TR7 V8, then a Rover Vitesse and then an MG Metro 6R4. He also was credited with the design and manufacture of a hi-ratio steering rack for the Dolomite, an achievement which had so far stumped supposedly brighter brains than his, whilst his exploits and achievements in Minis are the stuff of whispers in darkened rooms.
More recently his own rallying took a back seat to the benefit of local ace John Wink. History repeated itself when the lads took their Hyundai i20 R5 down to Wales Rally GB and the works team Hyundai engineers took a rather close and detailed interest in the car. They were impressed, and they also learned.
That same streak of ingenuity was ably demonstrated with the creation of a brand new airstrip at Insch and the base for a thriving flying club when he retired from his professional role as an Air Traffic Controller. Having found a suitable site, not for him the hiring of a landscaper or groundworks contractor. Nope. He ploughed and rolled the ground himself, then sowed and nurtured the grass to the extent that bowling or billiards might provide an alternative use for the facility let alone aeroplanes taking off and landing.
Yesterday morning at the Aeronautics Unlimited Landing & Departures (A.U.L.D.) site, standing on the verandah of the Garioch Insch Terminal (G.I.T.) clubhouse watching microlights and light aircraft come and go, it was like a swarm of bees in the last sunlit throw of Summer. A veritable hive of aerial activitiy.
Oh and one more thing, he is kind to animals. Especially the one-eyed cat which he rescued and saved and which now imperially roams the facility on rodent duty.
The man's a bluidy marvel.
|Whit the hell is gaun oan here?|
|Original co-drivers, Alan 'Hairy' Barron and Peter Brown|
|A celebration in pictures|
|Family & Friends|
|The grandweans were in fine voice - and even finer musicality|
|Man with dangerous weapon spotted in Premnay|
|The man and the One Eyed Cat|
|Garioch Insch Terminal|
|Aeronautics Unlimited Landing & Departures facility|