Friday, 22 January 2010

Mr Bilney and his Bikes . . .

Hi All,

Great to see the stories of misspent youth appearing on the site now so I thought I would add mine to the list.

I went from Halton to Brize for my first tour and ended up on VC10 heavy rects for a few years, working with Tim Thompson and John Purser for a while on a team which was almost exclusively ex-appo. I went down to St Mawgan in ’89 and was a liney for a couple of years on Nimrods before deciding to have my brain removed. Just after the first Gulf War I was accepted onto the Shrivenham programme and went through my degree in Aeromechanical Systems Engineering with Rob Withers (Andy Bailey and Tim Thompson were 2 years ahead and Roy Lefley and Dave Dawes were a year ahead). Following officer training at Cranwell with Rob again, I went to Lossie as OC Eng Wing HQ Flt (Rob came up shortly afterwards on Nimrods at nearby Kinloss) and then St Athan as a production manager on the VC10 Major Programme (Rob went to VC10 2nd Line at Brize). I left St Athan in ’99 and went back to Cranwell as a flight commander on Initial Officer Training with guess who, Rob Withers again! I was promoted to Squadron Leader out of Cranwell and started a downwards spiral in awful jobs at Wyton in the DLO but escaped back to Cornwall and sunny St Mawgan for my final tour as the SAR Force Business Change Manager. Last time I spoke to Rob, he was working for Texaco in South Wales and looking to move to New Zealand.

I left the mob about 5 years ago and initially set up a corporate training company using extreme sports etc, but it proved a bit too seasonal for my liking so I concentrated on consultancy specialising in change management and business improvement. These days I still live in Cornwall but I work all over; mainly home counties and midlands in the UK but also Romania, Egypt, Denmark and later this year the US and the Middle East.

I kept up with my bikes until about 2000 with a selection of Jap machines; the best of which was my dream bike when we were at Halton, a Suzuki GSX1000 Katana. This beasty had a Yoshimura race tuned engine. I never owned an Italian bike Ed, but I did finish with a Honda Firestorm 1000cc V twin so I did make a bit of a break from in line fours and the noise was fantastic! Latterly and ironically in light of the US car theme that’s developing here, when I left the RAF I treated myself to a Jeep Grand Cherokee; so Andy May you have a lot to answer for by the sounds of it!

Personal life-wise, I am married to Hayley and have been for 2 ½ years and we live in Cornwall with Hayley’s youngest, Sarah (15) and our 2 dogs – a wee Westie and an English Mastiff. I have another step-daughter (Hayley’s eldest) Charlotte at UWE and I have my 2 daughters from my first marriage Grace (14) and Emilia (12) in Cambridge (its because I have 4 daughters that I have a 17 stone Mastiff – even the balance a little!). I got into mountaineering after Halton and have had some fun in Scotland winter climbing and in the Alps, but not as serious as our Everest conqueror, Mr Carroll!

Anyway that’s me. I hope the reunion does come off and if I can help, I will. All the best gents. I look forward to hearing from more 139’s.

Best wishes Mark

Mark Bilney

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