After two decades in the high pressure world of motor sports, welder and fabricator David Jones has changed gear to a career in greenkeeping.
And 42-year-old David is continuing to use his engineering skills while learning new ones in his dream job at Tadmarton Heath Golf Club near Oxford. "I had wanted to be a greenkeeper for quite some time but had to wait until the time was right in my life," said David, who spent 20 years working with touring car and formula one teams.
"It was a very volatile industry which revolved around sponsorship and other people's money and I had been made redundant several times. I also had a seven year old daughter and I wanted to spend more time with her and not work weekends and all the hours God sends." However, David is fully aware that greenkeeping is far from a 9-5 job!
Having made the decision to change careers - and with the support of his wife Jayne, an NHS ward manager - David's next steps were to try and get a job. "This was quite difficult as my CV was very motor orientated but then someone suggested that I go to college and get some qualifications," he said.
David went to Moreton Morrell College where he gained the pesticide application PA1 and PA6 certificates. "Eventually I was offered a job at Brailes golf course in June last year," he said.
"The club registered me with the Warwickshire College on the NVQ Level 2 sports turf qualification and I was then contacted by Tadmarton Golf Club asking me if I was still interested in working there."
As that had been somewhere David wanted to work initially, he jumped at the chance. "It is a private golf club and is very supportive of staff training and health and safety," said David. "It is over 80 years old so has some history and is also closer to home for me."
Tadmarton encouraged David to carry on working towards his NVQ and the college recognised his commitment and awarded him the Derek Sharman trophy in the process. "To get this trophy at 42 years of age was quite an achievement," he said.
Now happily working at Tadmarton, David said: "I love the job - it's absolutely fantastic. I like working outside, the hours are good and I enjoy a much better quality of life."
A normal working day is from 7am until 3pm and David is able to pick up his daughter Emma from school every day. "A lot of fathers aren't able to do that so I feel very lucky," he said. "And I don't mind getting up early so the hours suit me really well."
"Being a greenkeeper means I can work outside and also use my engineering skills. Really, I am "engineering" the right grasses to grow and I am involved in all aspects of the maintenance including of course, the machinery!
"I also use my welding and fabrication experience in repairing machinery - I am using all my old skills while continuing to learn new ones. "
David is supported by course manager, Brian Owen. "I'm sure he thinks I am a pain as I am always asking questions," he said. "He's a very knowledgeable course manager but if he doesn't know the answer he will always find out."
Hoping to register with the college on the NVQ Level 3 sports turf, David found support from the college combined with work experience an interesting and a very flexible way to learn.
"Andy Turnbull, the turf tutor at the Warwickshire College, was very helpful - the avenues are all there if you want to learn," he said. "Doing a job while learning at the same time is great and I am very lucky to have the support to do this."
Working alongside and learning from colleagues is a key way of gaining new skills, according to David's course manager Brian Owen. "David is very good and his enthusiasm is excellent," said Brian, who has been in the industry for 32 years.