Bill Kettyle

Committee Member

Bill Keyttle - Committee Member
I was born in 1948 into a farming family in County Cavan, in the Irish Republic, as the second of five children. From the age of ten I attended the Royal Cavan Boarding School where I enjoyed taking part in various sports as well as my studies.
School holidays were spent working on the family farm and, as was the tradition in rural Ireland, helping out on adjacent farms at harvest time. 

I achieved my School Leaving Certificate in 1966 and was working on the farm when by a stroke of good luck my cousin, who was in the RAF and based in East Anglia was “home” visiting his family in Ireland, offered me the opportunity to travel back to England with him to either find employment or to take a holiday with him and his wife. I took my cousin up on his offer and, when I subsequently knocked on the door of the Norwich Union offices in September 1966, I was offered a position with them as a trainee actuary.

Whilst the role with the Norwich Union appeared to offer a secure job for life, unfortunately I did not find it very exciting and within a year I had changed direction and secured what I considered to be a more interesting and challenging job with May Gurney, a civil engineering company based in Norwich, with whom I trained as a quantity surveyor,
This change of career path was to put me in touch with construction people from all parts of the British Isles who had spent their lives criss-crossing the country as the UK highways and motorways network expanded in all directions. I discovered that I enjoyed the challenge and camaraderie of this type of work and from then on I was “hooked” on road construction and, in particular, major earthworks operations.

Throughout the Seventies I was employed by a number of different construction and earthmoving companies working throughout the UK, with me frequently being a weekly commuter, coming home late on Friday nights and leaving for work early on Monday mornings. When the distances were such that weekly commutes were impracticable taking my family with me became the obvious choice; this involved moving home on a number of occasions: initially from East Anglia to Cornwall; followed by a move to South Wales; followed by a further move to Northumberland; and then a return visit to South Wales in 1979; before later settling in Suffolk.

During our travels around the country I twice became a father, with my daughter, Anna, being born in Norwich and my son, Paul, being born in Hexham.
Wherever we went I always made an effort to get involved in football and, when I was playing for Porthcawl Town during our second spell in South Wales, I was lucky enough to train with the great Welsh rugby legend, Gareth Edwards. He had recently written his autobiography. However, under the peculiar rules governing amateur rugby at that time, the fact that he received payment from the sale of his book effectively classed him as a “professional”. As Gareth could no longer take part in the game in which he made his name he instead chose to play football for Swansea Town for a couple of seasons. He lived in Porthcawl and so it was convenient for him to train with us during the week; a thrill for all of us amateur (in both senses of the word) sportsmen. 
My return to South Wales in 1979 was to join a new employer, CA Blackwell (Contracts) Ltd, an Essex-based earthmoving contractor for whom I was to work for the remainder of my career.

Over the course of the next 22 years I worked on a number of different major road and motorway projects at various locations throughout England and Wales, including the M4 around Bridgend, the M25 in Essex and Kent, the Brigstock Bypass in Northamptonshire, the A42 and M42 in Leicestershire, the M5 in Worcestershire, the A50/A564 in Derbyshire and the M60 Manchester Outer Ring Road.
From 2001 until my retirement in 2013 I was generally based in Blackwell's Head Office in Earls Colne, near Colchester. During this period I became a director and was involved in various projects throughout the south-east, including preparatory work on a number of sites for the 2012 Olympic games in and around London and on Terminal 5 at Heathrow. I was also involved with two of Blackwell's subsidiary companies who carried out soil modification for roadworks and development sites through the UK and utilities trench work across the south-east of England.

Shortly after retiring in March 2013 I suffered a series of heart attacks and was initially treated at the West Suffolk Hospital before being transferred to Papworth Hospital where I remained for just over a week. As part of my recovery I attended the Cardiac Rehabilitation programme in Sudbury during which time I was introduced to and joined Upbeat. I have been a member ever since and have become involved in setting up equipment for the weekly visits by the nurses and for the exercise sessions.

I have lived in Great Waldingfield with my wife, Clare, since 1999 where we enjoy our retirement tending our garden and letting our dog take us for walks. I enjoy the occasional game of golf (or, to be more accurate, golf ball hunting) and meeting up with ex-colleagues every few weeks for dinner to exchange tales of the “old days” and to remind each other of how good we were in our prime.

I have been very fortunate to have worked with some excellent people and interesting characters who have helped me throughout my career and my life. 

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