Stuart’s speedboat dream fulfilled

Date: Monday 1st October 2018

A PLUMPTON man has proved that losing an arm need not be a barrier to the fulfilment of a lifelong dream by single-handedly building a speedboat.

It took 67-year-old Stuart Cook eight and a half years to build the semi-displacement vessel and he said he was “tickled pink” with the maiden voyage which took place on Ullswater.

Joining Mr Cook at the launch at Glenridding were his 27-year-old twin daughters, Hannah and Danielle, and 102-year-old Billy Armstrong, an ex-sheep farmer who lives at Plumpton.

Mr Cook, who lost his right arm to cancer in the mid-90s, moved to Plumpton in 2000.

From the age of 16 to 37, he helped run the New Holland shipyard in the Humber with his two brothers, the late Richard, and David.

During that time he skippered boats and was also involved in marine salvage.

“When I was in my 20s I was building barges. We used to launch them and then they would disappear to their new owners. I thought one of these days I will build a boat for myself so it does not go away,” said Mr Cook.

The speedboat is called Lilly May The Kite in memory of his late wife, Lillian, and his mother, who used to make kites when he was a boy.

Lillian, who died on 14th February, 2010, would ask her husband: “Why are you not building that boat you have always talked about?”

He said the craft, which has been constructed from his own designs, gave him a reason to carry on after the death of his wife but he could not bring himself to touch it for the first six months.

“It has been my heart’s desire from a young age to build my own boat,” said Mr Cook, who has not let a long list of health problems stand in the way of fulfilling his dream.

He feels constant phantom pains from the loss of his shoulder blade, collar bone and arm, has had parts of his right lung removed and has an irregular heart beat.

“I was always a problem solver and trouble shooter at the shipyard. With a bit of ingenuity you just need to make a jig or some sort of rig to be in place — something so you can manage with one arm,” he said.

“I have to really think about it. I like a challenge. It gives me great satisfaction.”

He is looking forward to making use of the completed vessel, and is not ruling out building another — but even bigger.