My great grandfather was born in North Ronaldsay, Orkney Islands, and emigrated to Australia for the economic opportunity it was said to offer. I was born in Melbourne in 1945
and studied Mechanical Engineering at RMIT and Melbourne University and then worked for Caterpillar Tractor Company.
In 1972, l
ike many young Australians, I set off for a proposed one-year trip to England. Employment in London was not well paid for visitors so I joined with two other young Australians and we set up a small workshop to make sheepskin footwear. This was quite successful and we then took over a business in Shepherds Bush, London, that was making woven leather for comfort footwear. This too prospered and led to us taking over a small leather accessories business based in Northampton. Over 10 years this grew to a business with 2 factories, 200 employees, sales to 25 countries and 2 Queens Awards to Industry. I sold my interest in the company in 1996.
In 2001, I started an environmental building business constructing Stabilised Rammed Earth buildings. This was highly specialised - we were the only firm offering this technology in the UK. Over the last 20 years, we worked on a wide variety of projects such as: a farmhouse near Exeter, the Ralph Allen School in Bath, a Climate Change Exhibition in Birmingham City Centre, a Nando's Restaurant in Essex and a display at The Chelsea Flower Show. My last project was building 4 Prayer Halls at the Jewish Cemetery in Bushey, North London. This was runner-up for the Stirling Prize - the highest profile architecture award in British culture.
I have now retired from building but still work as a stabilised rammed earth consultant.
Before moving to Ripon, I lived in a small village in the East Midlands, where my interest in local government and social development prompted me to serve on the Parish Council for 15 years, 10 years as chairman.
I married Roslyn in 1976, we have four children and 6 grandchildren.