14th July 2021

83 year old embarks on restoration challenge

Eighty-three-year-old John Wykes has a passion for classic motorcycles and cars and in his time has restored various vehicles to their former glory.

Living in Pendine Park’s Hillbury home in Wrexham, John was feeling ready for a new challenge to pass the time, so Hillbury’s deputy manager, Patsy Swift, sent out an appeal on Facebook for an old classic.

It was Ian John, a friend of Patsy’s husband, Shane, who decided to donate his old Kawasaki motorbike to John rather than sell it. Shane, who runs Swift Auto Services on Wrexham Industrial Estate, said: “Ian said he had been thinking about selling it, but when he heard about John at Hillbury he thought there was no better place for it to go. He was pleased to help out with such a thoughtful surprise for a veteran biker.”

Before retiring, John was a professional joiner, learning his trade at Harland and Wolff in Liverpool. After moving to North Wales, he opened his own joinery in Wrexham, which he ran for many years.

Outside of his work, John’s passion was motorbikes and he became so proficient in vehicle mechanics that he was able to restore several vintage bikes. One of his favourite projects was restoring a very worn Vauxhall J type car, a model popular in the 1930s and 40s.

Hillbury manager Cindy Clutton said: “We cannot express enough thanks to everyone involved in this magnanimous gesture. To see John’s reaction when the motorbike arrived was heart-warming.”

“if anyone has any motorbike tools they can spare or no longer want then we’d love to hear from them. I’m sure John will take excellent care of them and put them to good use. He has motorcycling in his blood.”

John keeps an album full of photos of vehicles that he has restored over the years, which is what inspired Cindy to come up with the idea of looking for a motorbike for John to work on. She sad: “He has good days and not so good days, but his face always lights up when he talks about his old motorbikes.”

For John, his love of motorbikes started when he was around 16 years old when he started riding them. He said: “I loved that feeling of freedom on the road, being out in the fresh air with the wind in your hair. It’s completely different to travelling by car, although I did enjoy restoring classic cars too.”

“The black J Type took me about two to three years to restore starting with the rusty old chassis and working my way up. I took photographs of it at different stages along the way. The finished result was supremely comfortable, a lovely classic vehicle, which I took to a few classic car shows.”

In his younger days, John enjoyed visiting different parts of the country by motorbike and often travelled through France too. He often reflects on his time working on his bikes and cars.

He continued: “I would say to anyone that if you can keep active, keep your hands in good working order and put your mind and skills to use on a practical hobby then it will bring you lots of joy.”

Do you have any tools that you can send to John for his project? Get in touch with the care home on 01978 310 978