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David Ostler and family

David Ostler and family

Hello, I am David Ostler. I have always lived in Lincolnshire, born and bred. My parents live in the village of Woolsthorpe. I was born in a place called Old Leake, which is not far from Boston, in 1963. I lived around the Boston area for my younger childhood. Then we moved nearer this side of Lincolnshire, not far from Stamford. Then we went across to Old Somerby and moved into the village where my parents still live in 1980. We moved around a bit but always in Lincolnshire.

I went to school at Great Casterton near Stamford and had just started the secondary school which was just up the road when we moved to Old Somerby so I got transferred to the King's School in Grantham where I stayed until I was 17. I did reasonably well in my O-level examinations. I got seven O-levels which gave me a good grounding. I started to do my A-Level exams but I didn't do particularly well after my first year sixth results and decided to leave. I think that my parents had hopes that I was university material but it wasn't for me. I had no such aspirations, I decided that I didn't want to go on to further education. I didn't really know what I wanted to do if I am honest. I had a farming background with my father and I was very much into the agricultural scene. Indeed when I left school I did go into a farming job, mainly working on the land, tractor driving and such. I did that for the first six months and then I went on to milk the cows. All the milking was mechanised. I used to cycle to work, 12 miles each way, but after a while I managed to save up a little bit of money and got myself a motor-cycle. Unfortunately, the year 1981, was one of the coldest winters on record. It is surprising how hard the agricultural environment can be in such weather. I remember having quite a few hairy journeys to work in the frost and snow. One morning on my way to work it had been a rough night and coming round a bend a tree was across the road. I was going far too fast to take any avoiding action so I just dipped my head down and apparently I went straight through the tree. Fortunately the main trunk was off the road. When I got to work they had found out that this tree was blocking the road. We went up with the tractor and you could see the shape where I had gone through, it was almost like a cartoon. Another morning it had got that cold that the milk was freezing in the jars straight out of the cows. It was a harsh old winter that was. But it didn't put me off.

I have always had an interest in motorcycles right from my school days. I honestly can't think where it came from. None of my friends were into motorcycles but I just developed an interest and luckily for me my dad bought a motor-cycle to get to work round about the time I left school. Then he got the bug so we shared a common interest which we still have today.

More or less straight away when I took up farming I went to Day Release College. I then went to Riseholme College near Lincoln full time fortunately for me as it was there that I met Gail which was the good thing that came out of the college for me. I did three years at college of which the middle year was gaining experience on a farm on the management side.

When I left college my best friend was involved in the building trade and he had always said to me that he was going to go self-employed and he wished I would go in with him. I had always passed it off but when I was at college I did work with him, it helped to finance my studies at Riseholme. I enjoyed working with him in the holidays and at weekends. When I left college I had a job to go to at Elsons' Seeds with quite good prospects and everything, but I just kept thinking that in this life your main finances go towards a house and wouldn't it be a good thing if I could build one for myself. I thought that I had nothing to lose at my age, it was worth giving it a try. So I went from the prospects of having a cushy job to being out on the building site. I have never regretted coming out of farming because in recent years the labour force has been so drastically reduced on the land with all the mechanisation and the way it had gone with the pressures from European rules and regulations. It is a different game from when I was at college. When I was there, I would say that 50% of the students were farmers' sons and I used to think, 'Oh you lucky devils, you've got it made!'  But I think the opposite now. They had the future mapped out for them and now it must be such a struggle and not an easy thing to back away from it. So now I think I have been the lucky one as I had the choice. No, I have never regretted leaving the agriculture behind and taking up building.

Having said that, I do miss various aspects of farming such as the rural aspect of being in the countryside, the nature side of things, certainly the livestock, I did enjoy working with the livestock. That's another thing that has changed, the livestock has almost gone out of the farms. There aren't so many sheep and cows in the fields now like there used to be. The farmers find that there isn't the money in livestock for them. We import so much these days that they can't compete. I miss watching nature at play as you might say and the change of the seasons. Still I have an outdoor job now so it is not like I am in an office having to look out of the window.

I started on the building work with my best friend who was my best man at our wedding. He is Nigel Podam from Grantham and we knew each other from when I moved from Old Somerby. We struck up a friendship round about the age of eleven I suppose and we have kept in touch ever since. I started out with him very much on the labouring side, mixing the cement and getting the bricks and blocks out. I went to Evening Classes where they taught me the basics of brick-laying but in the main I just picked it up from Nigel and gleaned his knowledge. We worked together for about seven or eight years working as a partnership. At one time I was working on a building site at Melton Mowbray, David Wilson Homes, along with Nigel but then he began to take on more private work, one-off builds. He left me doing the building site stuff but we would meet up and try to work out who was working for who and how much? In the end we didn't part company as such, it was just that I carried on working at Melton on the site which I did for five years and Nigel carried on doing the private work. Our ways parted really. Having said that I quite often get a phone call from him and sometimes I can help him out and sometimes not, depending how busy I am myself. Or I ask him if he can give me a lift on various things. It works well.

The preliminary to building a house is to make certain that what the client wants to have built is acceptable to the authorities, that the plans have been passed. You have to go through the correct channels otherwise you hear about the nightmare scenarios when things go wrong and the building work has to be taken down or altered to conform to the regulations. I make sure with the client that the right procedures have been gone through. Then I go round and have an on-site visit and check what they want to have done. If they have had the plans passed I am able to look at them and talk them through and visualise any foreseeable problems that there might be. These can be trees nearby or neighbours or difficult access. Say they need an extension doing round the rear of the property, we might need space to get any machines needed to do the excavations and such. I also need to check out where existing drains are and things like that. I take the drawings away to look through and then I get back to the customer to give them a ball-park price for guidance. If they are happy with that I get in touch again and then go through it more thoroughly, give them a written quotation and we take it from there. What I try to do is to have a stage payment system so that in theory my bills get paid off as the job progresses. The icing on the cake from my point of view is getting the job completed and getting the final payment.

Sometimes when you get digging unexpected difficulties are found which may cause delay, but things usually go as planned. I was at Melton for five years and we worked out that we built almost 60 houses in that time, just the shells. Now I have been building on my own for something like 20 years. You can be working on two or three houses at the same time. I have had a run of extensions recently. There is a bit of a trend for people to stay where they are and make the most of what they've got, especially if they are happy living in the area where they are. Also it is such a hassle and expensive to move what with solicitors' fees and estate agents. If you've got a bit of land at the side or the rear of the house it makes sense to use it.

The materials have got much more expensive in the last few years mainly because the taxation on aggregates has risen, clays and sands of which most building products are made. In general things are very expensive now. During the 20 years I have been building, there has been a certain element of mechanisation come into building. For instance when I started out, fork-lifts for moving materials were few and far between but now forklifts are common. Diggers used to be big machines and if there was no suitable access you had to do everything by hand but now there are mini-diggers. But the building trade is still pretty much one of tradesmen. Thank goodness prefabs have not come into my side of building. I do think that the traditional ways of building houses in this country cannot be bettered. We have the quarries at Clipsom and Ancaster and there is the tradition of stone-built houses in this area. Stone makes a very nice looking property.

What I do like about the job is being able to stand back and see what I am doing and take a pride in the work. You meet a lot of people as well, and it is outdoors. Going up and down ladders a lot of the time does keep you healthy, I suppose.

I am Gail Ostler. I was born in 1967 at Spilsby near Boston, not far from where Dave was. I moved to Lincoln five years later with my parents. They looked after an estate and were there for 30 years. I met Dave in 1985 at Riseholme College. We had a traditional white wedding with the bouquet and all the bridesmaids. I worked for an accountant to start with for a few years and then went to a building company doing their accounts, Mowbeck Construction. I am still working for them now, part-time.

We have two children who keep me busy and I look after the house of course. I like to keep fit and I do a lot of aerobics. I go into Grantham three nights a week. I am happy in my life but I would like a bit more spare time sometimes. We have some nice holidays. We do try to get away. We have just come back from South Africa. Dave's family is out there and we went to a family wedding. We have been on a Mediterranean cruise in July and we've been to Scotland this year. I wouldn't like to move to any other place. Scotland would be much too cold in the winter. South Africa is a beautiful place but I wouldn't like to lose the freedom I have here. I think that Colsterworth is fine.

I am Michael Ostler and I was born in 1990 and I was born in Leicester, not Lincolnshire! I was a premature baby, 10 weeks early. I was a hospital job in an incubator. I weighed three pounds one ounce.

(Dave: Gail was transferred from Grantham to Leicester Hospital by ambulance in an emergency due to blood pressure problems. I followed behind in the car.)

I went to Colsterworth School the new one - and then on to Corby Glen School which I didn't find very interesting. But I did put some effort in my last year and came away with 11 GCSEs. The teachers were saying that I could go to college but it wasn't really for me. So I thought about it and talked it over with my dad.

Since I was about nine years old I have been going to work with him in the holidays and at weekends. I have always been interested in working outdoors and with working with dad. So I thought instead of going on to college I would leave school and go and work with him. I am learning the brick-laying side at the moment. I may look into going into plumbing or being an electrician a bit later on, I've got plenty of time yet. I like the work very much. It is a lot more physical than school and longer days. Being outside in the winter can get a bit harsh; rain and high winds can interrupt some days but then you go and find jobs that are indoors, little jobs around the village.

I am interested in cycling with my dad in my spare time and at weekends. About a year ago I got into fishing, and I go regularly now. I have a few friends in the village but most of my friends are in Grantham. Sometimes I go to see them in their homes. I don't hang about the streets. (Dave: Definitely not. We like to know where he is and what he's doing, all the time. Gail: We like him to keep occupied). I think it would be nice to have a social club for young people. There is a park but that is for the younger kids. We need some place where we can go and chill out.

My name is Jade Ostler. I was born in Grantham in 1992 and I went to the same schools as Michael. I am still at Corby Glen School and doing course work towards my GCSEs. Most of them are core subjects such as maths, English and science, and we do Religious Education and Physical Education as well. I chose to do Food Technology, Art and Geography. I don't feel pressure on me but I have got a lot of work to do. The homework seems to get more and more.

My interest is in cycling. I am really into that. I go on training camps at the minute with British Cycling. I am trying to get on the Talent Team which goes on to Youth Squads and the Olympic Development Programme from there. So I am hoping for the Olympics in the future. I get a lot of support from my mum and dad. I do training and racing. In winter it is hard to get out what with the weather and the shorter days. I have a few friends in the village but I don't get out much, I am too busy. Two weeks ago, I did a charity ride for Children in Need. I did it on the 18th of November

 I was at school on the actual Children in Need Day, the 17th. I cycled 110 miles in around 8 hours, setting off at just after 8 am until about 5 pm. I used the map and planned out my route where I was going to go. I did get a bit lost. It was all near Leicester, Melton, Loughborough, Nottingham, Bingham, Bottesford and finished up in the Vale of Belvoir. My dad rode behind me for the last 50 miles. I have raised roughly about £220 so far. It is going to be in the paper this week.

Jobwise, a property developer would be a good job or a professional cyclist. The Olympics are my big ambition, a dream. I don't know, I shall just have to see how I get on.

RUNNING the LONDON MARATHON Dave Ostler

I ran the Marathon about three years ago now. Gail's father died at the age of 60 of cancer which was quite traumatic for all of us. I thought is there anything that I can do to help and so I decided on the whacky idea of running the London Marathon. I did it for Cancer Research.

I found out that I had got a place to run about the previous November. I was lucky because there is such a demand that it is quite hard to get a place. I got the place because I had pledged £1,000 or more already for the cause. I started practising in mid-November but the first time I went out I just about jogged to the park and back. The next day I had a few aches and pains and thought how am I going to do it? But you just chip away and start building it up. I went running round the course I had got, to Buckminster and Stainby, just about an 8-mile circuit. The theory was that if I got to the stage where I could run round three times, that is more or less the Marathon distance. I managed to achieve that somewhere around the end of February which was a real morale booster. I didn't seem to get any problems with my feet or ankles or anything. I just took it gradually. I think that cycling a lot when I was younger helped. I have done a lot of training for various things and I know how to train myself up. Touch wood, I didn't suffer any ill-effects from it.

When the great day arrived modern-day technology came to the fore. You had a microchip on your shoe-laces. It is activated when you cross the start-line and around the circuit at various stages (three or four of them) your progress is recorded on a computer. So there is no way of taking a short cut!

I managed to get round anyhow. It is an amazing event though unfortunately at one point I was in too bad a state to take it all in. During all my training, experienced runners had been telling me about the 'wall' as they call it. But I thought that I had done these circuits round the village and been all right, but funny enough I did hit the 'wall'. Fatigue hit me quite early, after about 18 miles. I managed to keep running but it was very painful, I was on my lowest ebb. Then there was this lad, not much older than Michael, with a group of friends cheering us on. They had clambered up on to a bus shelter. I was running with a vest on saying Cancer Research and my name, Dave. This guy was just looking down and going 'Come on, Dave!' I looked up and he shouted 'Come on, you can do it!' A complete stranger, he spurred me on and I got going again. That really changed me, somebody totally engrossed in me! That is what you get. People shout your name and spur you on. It is brilliant really.

It is a great event and such an incredible way to raise such a lot of money for good causes. I raised over £3,500. People were very supportive. The feeling when I crossed the line was unbelievable, not so much as a personal thing. It was the fact that I did it for Gail's dad. I looked up and I thought, 'If only he could have seen me!' It was a personal achievement but it was wonderful to be out there with all those other people.

I remember going to a briefing meeting just two months before the Marathon held in some big hall in London. I looked around at the hundreds of people there and I thought, 'Well, they won't be able to do it, and that chap, he's too old'. But the first thing the speaker said was that everyone present had the potential to do it. I was questioning that but on the day you see them running, walking, crawling. They get round and whether it takes 22 hours or 100 hours it doesn't matter. It is all about getting round the course by whatever means. There are some amazing scenes of folks getting round somehow. It is purely determination.

I always used to watch it take place in April every year thinking what a fabulous event. But having taken part in it and understanding what it entails, I really admire all those who take part especially the people who are not involved in sport and do not have a sporting background. I really take my hat off to them. At least I had been into sport before and I felt that I had a bit of an advantage in that I was reasonably fit and able.

For some time after I always said, 'Never, never again!' but now I am thinking, 'Maybe', we'll see!


This page was last edited on Thursday 06-Aug-09 21:49:10 BST


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