Wilkinson Maintenance boss on his love for life in the fast lane

Francesca Craggs talks to Wilkinson Maintenance boss Stuart Anderson about his love for life in the fast lane

Stuart Anderson, managing director of Wilkinson Maintenance

By day, Stuart Anderson is managing director of Wilkinson Maintenance, a Durham-based company specialising in the reactive maintenance and refurbishment of commercial properties.

Away from his business, however, Stuart is part of the pit crew to his 21-year-old son Chris on the rally driving circuit.

He is also a keen sailor who loves nothing better than spending his weekends, when not providing essential back-up support to his son, on his boat.

Stuart said: “I am immensely proud of Chris’s success in the rally driving championship as he has notched up some notable achievements in the past year. Most crucially, he achieved his personal best of an outright win on The Lindisfarne Rally and won the John Horton Motorsport Management Star award after taking second place overall at the Tyneside Stages on the Otterburn Ranges.”

Although Stuart’s days of getting his hands dirty in his maintenance business are mostly behind him, he still loves helping out on the rallies.

“Inevitably, the demands of running my own business take up the vast majority of my time. However weekends are the time when I love to accompany Chris to the various championships up and down the country as part of his support team.”

This year, The Tyneside Stages has been renamed The Wilkinson Maintenance Tyneside Stages Rally, with Stuart's firm being the sole sponsor.

“Chris couldn’t wait to jump into a rally car from when he first got his licence aged 17, so I have been a hands-on help on the circuit for several thrilling years now. The main part of my ‘job’ boils down to humping wheels around and helping to make sure that the car is ‘championship ready’.

“These days, although Chris has a professional team in place, including Chris Birkbeck Rallysport, he still says that the help his old dad provides makes all the difference. Whether that’s just to butter me up and keep me lugging wheels around, I don’t know!

“Even though I’m not in the driving seat, Chris’s adrenaline and the excitement of being on the stages, albeit on the side lines, is addictive. I can only compare it to the thrill I receive myself when achieving success in my chosen sport of sailing, including securing my RYA Skipper status.”

Stuart was first bitten by the sailing bug in the early 1980s, while working in Southampton. He said: “A friend sailed his own yacht there, which we crewed at weekends. We had a brilliant time, sailing around the Solent and the Isle of Wight, and it was there that I really picked up my life-long love of sailing.

“We became quite good at crewing our boat, and worked towards, and gained, our Competent Crew status, which is the benchmark of a crew’s seaworthiness.

Our enthusiasm pushed us to take part in Cowes Week and other smaller regattas, and I can honestly say that we had the time of our lives.”

Stuart also met his wife Sue, also originally from the North East, while in Southampton.

“Sue is from South Shields and I’m from Sunderland, and we were feeling homesick for the North East.

“I threw myself into the business, which we bought as Wilkinson Builders in 1991, and didn’t have much time to even think about my love of sailing.

“If I was honest with myself, however, the bug never really left me. I think my wife thought the same, as she bought me a Skippers Ticket course. This really worked to re-ignite my passion for sailing.”

Stuart has trained in force nine gales to prepare to take part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race this August to raise money for The Great North Air Ambulance (GNAAS).

However, a personal tragedy has sadly prevented Stuart from taking part.

He said: “I am positive that this is just a delay rather than an end to my dream, and that I will one day live to sail the southern oceans in this fantastic challenge.”

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