Engineering and manufacturing students at Colchester Institute are benefitting from a donation of custom-made gyrocopters worth thousands of pounds thanks to the family of a Colchester businessman.
The Watts family have handed over the five gyrocopters, equipment and raw materials from the workshop of their father Danny who died aged 74. Passionate amateur engineer Danny built the gyrocopters from scratch, making most of the parts himself.
Shane Steward, Acting Area Head of Engineering and Manufacturing at Colchester Institute, said his students were delighted to be working on the machines: “This is a unique gift which gives them invaluable hands-on experience. The students can practice reverse engineering on the gyrocopters, modify components and find practical solutions to problems.”
“I am very impressed by what Danny created; he had clearly mastered every discipline, which is a rarity. I couldn’t do it.”
At the end of last term one of the gyrocopters was on display in the foyer of Colchester Institute where students were encouraged to sit in the pilot’s seat and take novel selfies. There are plans to strip two of the machines in the coming months to create buggies for a charity race in Colchester during 2017.
Two of Danny’s children, Jayne Gee and Daniel Watts, are Directors of Tollgate Partnership Limited, a company he founded in Stanway 36 years ago. They visited Colchester Institute with their Mother, Carole Watts to see how the equipment was benefitting students. Jayne said: “Dad was a former police officer turned developer with a life-long passion for creating and inventing things; he built his own house and was an enthusiastic amateur engineer as well as being a keen aviator. He loved helping young people, so it made sense to donate the contents of his workshop, his gyrocopters, materials and equipment, to Colchester Institute to inspire the next generation of engineers. He would have been thrilled at how they are being used.”
“Having met the team at Colchester Institute, it is clear they share Dad’s passion for building things so Tollgate Partnership Limited has committed to continuing to work closely with them.”
Tollgate Partnership Limited is still a family-run company. It plans to invest a further £70m in Colchester by creating Tollgate Village, a retail and leisure development at Stanway.