20 years...

Christmas Eve 1999 and all the employees of CSM Rider Training receive a call to say that the business has closed with immediate effect. The next two weeks were spent in a blur of signing on, raising money from family and friends and talking to Andy Bell and Kelly Lansdown about setting up Lightning Motorcycle Training. On the 15th January 2000 we signed and paid for the assets of CSM’s Oxford branch, taking on ex-CSM instructors Adam Perkins and Tony James. We ran our first course on Saturday 6th February 2000. By October 2000 we’d opened a second site in Reading with the help of Lawrence Homer and Grubby at MTC Motorcycles. We’d also taken on the legendary Alan Grimes to whom so many owe a motorcycle licence (in his later guise as an examiner). In 2010 we had a brief foray to Swindon, and more recently in 2018 opened a site in Wembley. 20 eventful years!

The years have flown by but in the process we picked up some absolute stalwarts like the inimitable Jonathan Harrison, Ben Dyche, Steve Smith, Ed Boden, John Moore, Karl Bianchini, Duncan Howard, Emma Turner, Michelle Slaymaker, Mark Hutt, Michael Palmer, Mat Sparrow, Lee Thompson and Terry Welch. Indeed, we’ve been going long enough that some like Alex Deutsch and Rob Booden have managed to have more than one stint instructing at Lightning. Others like Sam Ganna-Powell, Chris Greetham, Carl Brooks, Rob Waugh, and Adam Price were actually our students before they turned their hand at being instructors. The current cast of Lightning are every bit as strong and dedicated as those that have gone before them and much is owed to Alice Ganna-Powell, Becky Beardwell, Colin Fell, Keith Aldridge, Chris Baker, Simon Welch, Simon Blackham, Nick Bowcock, Richard Beardwell, Kyle Dabell, Paul Bowen, Bob Southgate, Jason Bowen, Rob Carey, Eryl Price Davies, Kevin Spokes, Sam Ganna-Powell, Brian Abbott, Jeremy Wright, Mark Stevens, Piotr Krzeminski, and Gary Sibley.

There have been others, part-time or fleeting, but to each and everyone of them we owe a debt of gratitude and thanks for their dedication and passion.

The good ship Lightning has sailed through fine and fair weather, heavy storms and squalls, but along the way the thing that has kept the sails full is the unstinting support of our customers – about 40,000 so far. To think that our youngest customer in 2000 is now 36 and many of this year’s students weren’t even born when we began is deeply humbling. The fact that the vast majority of our new business is through recommendation says it all.

We’ve seen many changes but probably the best has been the rise of Facebook which has allowed us to keep in touch with our ex-students, and in particular enjoy the obvious pleasure that riding a motorcycle brings to them.

Thank you to one and all – it’s been a fantastic 20 years