Kevin Peacock started his draughtsman apprenticeship with Marshall in 1971 – and joined the same year as Robin Lipscombe, who later became one of Marshall’s legendary tutors.
“About a dozen of us started together at the old training centre,” Kevin says, “and our tutor at the time – which is what Robin later became – was Colin Smith. Robin and I were always in the top two for the year and our work was often on display in the cabinet as exemplars.”
As part of the apprenticeship, Kevin first learned the relevant hand skills and tools, and was then embedded around different departments in the organisation, spending time learning in each.
“After a year or so I ended up in the drawing office. I started on drawing boards. There were no computers in those days, and when the computers did finally arrive, they were boxy, crude-looking, and 2D.
“Today you can do things on a computer in the blink of an eye, but back then drawing was a real skill and there was a personal element to the drafting – which in spite of the changes in technology today, is still a very good grounding in design.”
Throughout his impressive 50+ years working at Marshall, Kevin has been involved in a wealth of different projects, and there have been many highlights in his career.
“For instance, all the ambulances that Marshall Land Systems have work on over the years, three generations of them, starting with the Land Rover Mark I series during my apprentice years, were a big highlight. We then did the Mark II, and the Mark III, and every 10 years there would be a new contract bid for the next one – which Marshall always won.”
“The best thing is that after 30 or 40 years some of those ambulances are still going strong. So, whenever I see one pass by, I think to myself, ‘I did that.’”
Kevin recognises the concern of the current technical skills gap growing through the industry, but firmly believes that Marshall Skills Academy plays an important role in bridging that gap. “There’s lots of potential for the young people already training with Marshall as apprentices at the moment, and we have some good talent here,” he says.
“The other important thing is that Marshall has loads of experienced people, many of whom are nearing retirement, and that knowledge must be passed down to the younger generation before they leave industry,” he adds. “There is a trend today that younger people have more academic skills than hands-on skills because schools are using computers for everything and put more emphasis on academic learning than vocational training. It’s important to maintain a high quality of practical work too if Britain hopes to address the skills shortage.”
“The reality is that you need the practical skills that Marshall Skills Academy delivers. Through the apprenticeship, we provide a great blend of theory and practical skills to the new apprentices. They also gain valuable work experience to embed their learning through working on real-world projects.”
After half-a-century working with Marshall, Kevin’s thoughts are now naturally turning towards retirement, and all that means.
“I think a phasing down is the best way forward,” he says philosophically. “Presently, it usually means you’re working five days a week, then four days, then three days, and then you suddenly you have all this free time on your hands. For me, I think I will still need projects to keep me interested.”
Fitness has played a big part in Kevin’s life, and he still goes to the gym twice a week – lifting weights. “I concentrate on bench pressing, which is my forte,” he says. “I’ve even done well in competitions over the years.”
In fact, Kevin has entered British weightlifting competitions and went on to win three times in his age group – in 2009, 2010, and again in 2012. “I’m no Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I can lift good weights,” he says modestly. “And I’ve been British Champion three times, so that’s my claim to fame!”