RISC World

Mike Wilson 1923-2001 - an Obituary

On Saturday 3rd November Mike Wilson died as the result of a fire that gutted his ground floor flat at St Peter's Crescent, Morley. All of us that knew him, even slightly, are deeply shocked and still coming to terms with what a loss this will be. Mike was 78 years young ( no one who laughed like he did could be truly old ) and a dedicated technophile.

His foundation course was being born into a family well know in the West Yorkshire machine tool industry. He continued his "education" as a communications specialist when he was called up to serve in the second world war. Training took place in England before he was sent by troop ship to India. The journey, in convoy, was slow and potentially boring so, typical Mike, he persuaded a chum that had trained with him to spend the weeks on the ship learning and relearning the contents of their training notes. Arriving in India they had to sit an exam to ensure that they had not forgotten their training. The officer in charge saw their results and immediately set them on as trainers. His army career never looked back and he came home at the end of the war as Major Wilson.

One of Mike's passions was motor sport. On his return to civvy street he managed to combine this with earning a living at C. H. Wood's in Bradford where he made many of the "Castrol" motor sport films that were so popular in the 50's and 60's. The job involved travelling all over Europe to record events such as the Isle of Man TT Races, the Le Man's 24 hour Race and all the F1 races.

When the technology changed from cine-film to video, Mike took to it like a duck to water and embarked on a relationship with computers that he maintained until the end. He was an expert film editor who, well after most people have retired, still edited training films for his final employers, Auto-Glass.

Another of his interests was railways. Last year I had a day out with him at the National Railway Museum at York. What a day it was - Mike's deep technical understanding and inexhaustible fund of anecdotes made it an occasion that I will never forget.

99.9% of the time Mike was the perfect gentleman, kind, patient and truly chivalrous. On the odd 0.1% of occasions when someone had made a real effort to exasperate him, the dour Yorkshire wit became evident. It didn't last long though as he invariably ended up reducing everyone present including himself and the offending party to uncontrollable laughter. That laugh again - maybe that is what we should remember - he would approve of that.

I can't sum it up with any greater eloquence than group member Dave Barrow who wrote "He was a great chap for whom I had the deepest respect and fondness."

Chris Quinn, Former Wakefield Group Chairman and friend