"I like to think I gave the term ‘burn rubber’ new meaning,” jokes 83-year-old homeowner Charles Ashworth, a former Tyre Design Engineer who now resides at Poppy Court, a McCarthy Stone Retirement Living PLUS development in Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham.
It’s easy to see why Charles had such an extraordinary and successful career – his natural inquisitiveness opened his life to exciting opportunities that took him all around the world. “I often think to myself 'Not bad for a boy from Liverpool who survived the Blitz!’”
After graduating from Liverpool University with a degree in Chemistry and Physics, Charles began his 40-year career as a Designer for tyre manufacturer, Dunlop. “I was fresh out of University and keen to understand how everything worked, so after 3 years as a designer, I volunteered for a factory role- in what was then called the ‘Black Hole’. This was where we mixed all the raw materials for different tyres – and was a very messy/dirty job!”
“I learnt lots in those first few years, until one day my boss called me to his office and asked me if I wanted to go to Canada to share my learning with the team out there. I was only given 24 hours to make my decision- but I jumped at the chance – on the proviso I could take my trombone with me!”
After a successful 6-month placement in Toronto, Charles returned to the UK to oversee the mixing department at Dunlop’s Liverpool factory. His wealth of experience led him to assist setting up operations in Trinidad and working in South Africa, where he spent several years before returning to the UK where he was part of the team that engineered Dunlop’s run flat tyres.
Charles also pioneered the use of cold feed extruder machines. “At the time this was state-of-the-art technology that revolutionised the manufacturing process.” The work involved visits to the U.S.A, Japan, Nigeria, Egypt and much of Europe.
After 30 years in the industry Charles transferred to Statistical Process Control, and not wanting to hang up his boots just yet, Charles decided to put his mathematical skills to good use by volunteering as a maths teacher at the local college. “I was keen to pass on everything I’d learnt over the years and found teaching very rewarding.”
It was during this time that Charles attended an art class and fell head over heels with his teacher, Jan Wild. They went on to marry and share 15 wonderful years together before Jan sadly passed away in 2018. “It was during our last few years together that Jan and I considered downsizing, as our house was far too big and difficult to maintain. Unfortunately, we never found the right property that suited all our needs.”
Fast forward to today and Charles has settled into life at Poppy Court. Now, in his 80s, he’s glad he made the decision to move from his house in Birmingham, which he had lived in for more than 15 years and join the vibrant community at Poppy Court. “I wanted to move into a place where I would be part of a community, feel safe and have stacks of facilities on my doorstep. Poppy Court ticked all the boxes for me, and I haven’t looked back, it really is living made easy.”
Charles has relished every moment since making the move to Poppy Court. He explains: “Fabulous accommodation, a kindred community, surrounded by friends and an in-house restaurant; what’s not to love? I’ve lived an eventful life and I’m not stopping now!” Charles says, “I’ve lived and worked in many countries, on 5 continents and now I have the choice, I very contented living in England at Poppy Court.
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