We never know when something unforeseen will remove the future from us. Bad things happen. For some, like me, it means reducing the possibilities of serious life-ending stuff. For others, it means not delaying doing that thing you have always wanted to do. Nick nearly died as a child and now, at 61, he is determined to experience everything he can, regardless of danger.
We first took note of Nick when, a couple of years ago, we heard that he was about to ski the Hahnenkamm which, for those who may not know, is the site of the scariest, most dangerous downhill ski race in the world. He was not entering the race, only intending on skiing the run. Nick is not an expert skier. We know some people who are, and they would not set foot on that run. It’s crazy steep, a wall of ice. There are trees all around. Fall, and you will accelerate as if you have been dropped from a plane, flip-flopping and sliding like a rag doll with your journey suddenly terminated by a sturdy Austrian fir tree. Assuming you live, many don’t, your mangled body is assured a medevac flight to repair your sundry broken bones. Really? Who does this sort of thing?
Please meet Nick, 61, who has a habit of surprising people. A calm, mild guy, an accomplished artist with a tech/sales background, he is not at all the thrill junkie we expected.
Where do you live?
I was born and still live in the county of Cheshire (just south of and equidistant between Manchester & Liverpool) most famous for the making of Rolls Royce (originally) and now Bentley Motor Cars.
Four Life Phases
You describe living life in 4 phases. Could you tell us about these?
Phase 1. A: Having survived osteomyelitis in my left hip as an 11-year-old, when I came very close to dying. I returned to high school having missed an entire year of schooling. This meant that I left at 16, with very few qualifications when I started my apprenticeship in telecomms engineering with British Telecom. During this time my big passion was motorsport. I competed around the UK on an amateur basis in sports racing cars. (1977-1980) funded by everything I earned. In 1982 I got married and we are still together today.
Phase 2. A: 1985 to 2011 and all in IT. I moved from engineering at British Telecom to sales with a small IBM dealer. Surprisingly to me, I was very successful. I leveraged this to join HP in 1987 (in 1988 I took a client to Copenhagen to sail with Dennis Conner on the America’s Cup-winning catamaran which HP sponsored) and from then on gradually moved up in roles with various companies involved in IT. At the same time, we had a couple of daughters. After doing 9 years pre-qual night school, I completed a part-time MBA in Strategic Marketing with Hull University 1995, which served as a foundation for my future.
In 1988, I qualified as a sports diver and have dived almost every year since. Also in 1987, I returned to motorsport for 5 years as an amateur again in a variety of cars including a Formula 3 March 793. I returned to sports car racing in 2001-3 and aim to return once again (4th time!) this year with a Lotus 7 replica called a Westfield, the green car below.
Phase 3. A: In the late 2000s the ailing health of both of my parents meant my corporate career was heavily compromised. To avoid complete burnout I started my own company around sales training and coaching. I also wrote a book called Customers are F.I.C.K.L.E. It’s aimed at complex long-sales-cycle deals typical of the IT services environment but applies to any sector with those characteristics. This period went very well via direct and indirect business and lasted from 2011-17 when I retired. I was made a ‘Fellow’ of both the Institute of Marketing and the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management during this time.
Skiing the Hahnenkamm
Let’s get to your adventures. Skiing the Hahnenkamm?
Yes, last year for my 60th birthday I broke a 6-year skiing drought and went to Kitzbühel to ski the Hahnenkamm downhill for fun. Due to extremely icy conditions I was advised by my instructor not to do the black sections but did manage the rest of it including the reds, blues, and finish line.
Diving in Sardinia and North Wales
Have you been diving?
I’ve been diving for 30 years now. Literally, I’ve just returned from Sardinia where I did 10 dives in amazing visibility with large groupers, shoals of barracuda, Moray eels, etc. It’s a protected national underwater park called Capo Carbonara in Villasimius.
6 weeks ago I dived on the oldest submarine wreck in the world in North Wales. This is called “Resurgam” and sunk in 1870. (Google Resurgam Colwyn Bay). I did this with my local club who applied for a special license from the government as it’s a “listed protected wreck.”
What about the drag race car. What was that like?
This was an absolutely stunning experience where I went 0-172mph in 7 secs using 1000bhp. According to the driver, 2 US Navy pilots claimed it felt quicker and more G-force than being launched off a carrier in a fighter. Here is a video of Nick at 170 mph, the run starts at about the 2:30 mark.
Zip Wire at 120mph
Did I miss any?
There was the zip wire at 120mph over the world’s longest and fastest run in North Wales.
How is the art career going?
Phase 4 is a work in progress and can’t yet claim it to be anything other than a lifelong interest and passion for art and sculpture, and is still amateur based. I have been working on this for almost 20 years now and attend weekly life drawing classes. I also invested in a year-long one-day-a-week portrait painting course with one of the UK’s top artists called Louis Smith (2nd in the global BP-sponsored National Portrait Gallery of London awards in 2011). I have also worked with one of Britain’s finest sculptors, Denise Dutton, who is a personal friend.
The Year Ahead
Wow, what do you have planned next?
Well, having become a grandfather for the first time in March this year, I want to be the best I can at that as it’s really important to me and hopefully will make a difference to my granddaughter.
I set my goals every Jan 1st and have done for 25 years. (Thank you, Tony Robbins!) and one of them this year was to do something with motorsport, skiing, and diving, so I’ve just ticked that box!
Art-wise I want to get something represented in an exhibition again. (I had 2 large multimedia collages of each of my grandfathers’ participation in WW1 in Keele University and then hung in the Cheshire Regiment Museum in Chester for 3 years.)
In order to keep fit for all this stuff, I do weights 3 times a week and yoga on 2 evenings for flexibility. I also meditate and practice mindfulness regularly.
What motivates you to do these things?
I have to confess the obvious from above, which is that I am an adrenalin junkie. I am also a bit of a fatalist and since my illness at 11 and the loss of my 2 best friends when they were teenagers, I know that life can be taken away from us very quickly so want to enjoy all the experiences that I can, while I can…Carpe Diem!