A motorcycling master is hoping to give budding bikers the chance to gain the skills needed to drive safely on the highway after kick-starting one of Rotherham’s first dedicated bike training schools.
Self-confessed petrol head Gary Wilson began his love of all things biking aged just 11 years old, saving cash from his paper round to buy off-road bikes. A lift into Rotherham on the back of his neighbour’s motorbike fuelled his love of two wheels, inspiring him to pass his bike test and go one step further to encourage others to share his love of bikes, becoming a qualified motorbike instructor by the time he was aged just 24.
Struggling to fund his increasingly expensive hobby, which now included racing for Thundersport GB, Gary worked in various jobs centered on the one area he felt confidence in; driving, with stints as an HGV and taxi driver whilst pursuing his passion behind the handlebars working as bike instructor in Sheffield.
Earlier this year, just weeks before he celebrated his 40th birthday, Gary decided to use his knowledge and expertise to turn his dream of building his own riding school into a reality – launching the first of its kind in Rotherham.
With an extensive knowledge of motorbikes but no prior experience of owning his own business, Gary contacted Launchpad; a business support programme which provides free advice to those exploring self-employment for the first time. Working with an experienced business advisor, Gary learned essential business skills such as bookkeeping, marketing, and social media whilst also being advised on securing the funding needed to finally launch the business he had always dreamed of.
Since launching Wilson’s Rother Ride, Gary has chosen to reject the standard group training sessions commonly used when teaching first-time bikers in favour of a more personalised service, which he believes helps riders to build confidence much more quickly, as well as helping to encourage more women to take up the hobby… including his own wife! For experienced bikers who are fuelled by a need for speed, Gary also provides specialist racing tuition and accompanied track days to learn and develop the essential riding skills needed to tackle high-speed circuits.
The support Gary has received from the Launchpad programme, coupled with a unique approach to instructing novice riders has seen his business blossom and he is now hoping to expand his business across South Yorkshire.
Gary Wilson, founder of Wilson’s Rother Ride, said:
“I have been a qualified instructor for over 15 years and I felt I was at a crossroads in my career and wanted to use my skills to teach people not only how to ride safely, but confidently. Many motorbike schools use group teaching which I felt didn’t necessarily act in the interests of a learner.
“I’d always liked the idea of working for myself, but I wasn’t really sure where to start, so I decided to contact Launchpad, who gave me confidence in my business idea and also offered specialist support, helping me to understand what it’s like running a business and becoming self-employed for the first time. Since I launched the business I’ve never looked back, and I think the way in which my lessons are delivered has encouraged more people, my own wife included, to learn how to ride a motorbike”.
Julia Millea, Business Advisor, Launchpad, said:
“The best business ideas are born from a passion or interest and Gary spotted a new way of delivering lessons, built around sharing his love of motorbikes, but when it came to running a business, it was clear that he needed the L plates!
“The Launchpad programme was developed to offer practical support, advice and guidance to individuals like Gary who have never run a business before. The programme is available to anyone in Rotherham who is thinking of starting their own company and provides access to a comprehensive range of workshops throughout the Sheffield City Region, as well as one-to- one support and advice.”
Launchpad is a unique scheme which forms part of the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub. Funded by the European Union Regional Development Fund and delivered by local authorities within the Sheffield City Region and the Princes Trust, the programme provides free help and support to budding entrepreneurs in the Sheffield City Region who are thinking of starting their own business, or have started trading within the last two years.
For more information on the Launchpad programme and how it operates throughout the Sheffield City Region, contact the SCR Growth Hub Gateway on 03330 00 00 39 or visit www.scrlaunchpad.co.uk