Geoff Watkin may only be 3 years away from his 90th birthday but that doesn’t stop him living life to the full. The 87-year-old from Boroughbridge is still working despite having retired 25 years ago, teaching people how to drive Land Rovers off-road.
Working as an off-road driving instructor at Yorkshire Outdoors, Geoff shares his wealth of knowledge teaching people how to drive off-road properly and in a safe manner.
Geoff began working for Land Rover in 1960 fitting rear brake pipes on the 109″ and later went on to become a ‘snagger’, he then went on to become a foreman where he would fix up the battered company Land Rovers with second-hand parts after they had been used to show the vehicles capabilities off-roading to would be customers. Geoff demonstrated a knack for off-road driving after being asked to take a Series Land Rover around the famous ‘Jungle Track’ at the factory one day.
“I really enjoyed it and I told them that I’d like to do it full-time,” says Geoff. Then, in 1978, a new job opportunity came up within the company, one which was right up Geoff’s street! Land Rover were looking for employees to demonstrate their vehicles off-road prowess to prospective customers, journalists, politicians, even Royals and of course Geoff jumped at the chance.
The new role demonstrating Land Rovers took Geoff all over the world, meeting people such as princes in Saudi Arabia and Camel Trophy participants. In the mid 1980’s Geoff trained the Yugoslavian police force when they had purchased a fleet of vehicles for the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. He also tutored Princess Anne and Mark Phillips in the finer arts of off-road driving.
The new role as a demonstrator took Geoff on many adventures, some of which can only be described as hairy. During a visit to war-torn Lebanon for instance, he was caught up in gunfire with a bullet flying through the air just inches away from his head which he took with a pinch of salt. ‘It was dangerous. You got to see a different side of things though, actually living out there. There wasn’t as much animosity between the Muslims and Christians as people would expect. The people I met just wanted to get along’ he explained.
In 1991 Geoff retired from Land Rover and helped Richard Fawcett start-up Yorkshire Outdoors.
He officially retired from working as an independent consultant about 8 years ago at the age of 75, and now enjoys his role at Yorkshire Outdoors, meeting new people and teaching them about driving off-road. ‘It’s in the blood’, he says.
You can have tuition from the great Geoff Watkins by booking a 4×4 outdoor experience day at Yorkshire Outdoors.