Ready for a new mission at Jaguar Land Rover’s Halewood Plant
Former Army Sergeant Mike Burton joins the team at Halewood after leading a Mission Motorsport team in the Defender Challenge.
Jaguar Land Rover’s close and ongoing support for the inspirational Armed Services charity Mission Motorsport has already proved to be a major success on a number of fronts. As well as playing a vital role in helping many injured former service personnel to “race, recover and retrain” by enabling them to take part in motorsport events like the Defender Challenge (sponsored by Jaguar Land Rover), the company has also benefited greatly by gaining some outstanding new colleagues.
Mike Burton (31) from Newton-Le-Willows is the latest former serviceman to join the Jaguar Land Rover team via Mission Motorsport and the Defender Challenge and the former Sergeant with the Royal Lancers will be the first to work at the company’s Merseyside based plant.
With a passion for off-road driving “and all things seriously muddy” as well as a background in the Army that included working with everything from 70 ton tanks through to Scorpion and Scimitar reconnaissance vehicles, Mike had always hoped these skills might enable him to find a job in the automotive industry.
Unfortunately, those plans had to be accelerated when Mike was injured during training and could no longer serve with the Army.
“I sustained injuries to my hands whilst getting ready to be deployed overseas and that meant I could not continue with an Army career. So like many other guys I suddenly had to start making fresh plans,” explains Mike.
“However, through Mission Motorsport I joined the Defender Challenge in February 2016. It was just the sort of event I wanted to take part in and it proved to be a brilliant opportunity for me as well.”
Mike (somewhat unexpectedly) found himself managing the Mission Motorsport team which proved to be an exceptionally tough but also incredibly rewarding experience.
He was responsible for making sure the team’s rally-prepped Defender was able to compete in all seven rounds of the gruelling competition and handled everything from sourcing parts, handling logistics, getting the vehicle race-ready for each round (overcoming the various bangs and bashes rallying involves) and getting his drivers their race licences and to the start the line for each round.
Jaguar Land Rover colleagues taking part in the Defender Challenge were notably impressed by what they saw and in particular by Mike’s ability to get a team of recovering soldiers race-ready in such a short timeframe and then compete throughout the season. So in October last year Mike was invited to take part in a two week work placement at Halewood before spending some further time with the team responsible for delivering the company’s continuous improvement training in its Lean Learning Academy.
“Everyone was really welcoming and supportive,” adds married, father of one Mike.
“As I am local to Halewood and my family is from this area, just getting the opportunity to come to the factory and see whether I could make a contribution meant a great deal to me.”
With the encouragement of people from across the business and having also secured an NVQ in engineering, Mike put himself forward for interviews and is now all set to start work at Halewood as a Torque Integrity Assurance Programme (TIAP) engineer.
Major James Cameron, the Founder and CEO of Mission Motorsport, adds;
“Jaguar Land Rover has been a superb supporter of Mission Motorsport and we’re delighted that Mike will be starting a new career at Halewood. As well as being a great event that enables people to have a lot of fun, the Defender Challenge is proving to be an excellent way for our people to demonstrate their skills, rediscover their confidence and fitness and secure work with some world-class companies.”
Mike’s ability and determination to get a team of injured and still recuperating servicemen through seven hard rounds of competitive rallying has also been recognised at the Royal Foundation’s ‘Endeavour Fund Awards’ ceremony held in London earlier this year.
The Endeavour Fund – founded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry – supports a range of charities helping injured armed services personnel and has also provided funding for Mission Motorsport’s rallying campaign.
Mike was nominated for the prestigious Henry Worsley Award which celebrates people who have taken part in a major sporting challenge or adventure designed to help themselves and others overcome their injuries.
“I was a bit shocked and surprised to be nominated considering some of the incredible things the other people had done,” Mike explains.
“However, it was good to have Mission Motorsport and Jaguar Land Rover recognised and to highlight what has been achieved so far.”