Michael has always loved all things Motorsport and Land Rover. He served fourteen years in British Army’s The Queen’s Royal Lancers and after an amalgamation, two years in The Royal Lancers, leaving as a Squadron Headquarters’ Troop Sergeant. After serving on multiple tours and in training environments all over the world, the high tempo took its toll. Michael loved off-road motorcycle racing and competed in the North East Enduro Championship, but was forced to stop riding due to his injuries progressively getting worse. The Armoured vehicles he used over the years in all weather conditions sped up wear and tear on his hands and Michael now has premature onset arthritis in his knuckles.
In the summer 2016, the limits of medical support were reached and as medical discharge from the Army was looking likely, Michael contacted Mission Motorsport’s Head of Vocation, Adam Marchant-Wincott, and visited the charity for a few days. During this time the team were preparing vehicles for an event, as well as vinyl wrapping some vehicles for a Walking with the Wounded event. Michael loved the ethos and spirit of the whole setup and got much needed reassurance from the team.
In January 2016, Michael was declared medically unfit for service and sent home permanently, unsure of how to set out his future. After speaking with Adam at Mission Motorsport, Michael decided to complete a City & Guilds Level 3 NVQ in Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair, which is run through the charity’s in-house training wing. Michael acquired funding from Walking with the Wounded and started in February 2016, managing to complete the course in July 2016.
Around the same time, an opportunity arose for Mission Motorsport to enter the Defender Challenge Rally Series. Mission Motorsport worked alongside Jaguar Land Rover, Bowler Motorsport, and the Royal Foundation Endeavour fund to make participating in the series possible. Michael did not need any persuading in volunteering to run the team’s finances, training, and deployment to each of the 7 rounds of the Championship. Michael wanted to be kept busy as a coping mechanism for dealing with the future, so running the team and doing the vocational NVQ training was very beneficial.
Early in the season, the vehicle sustained what looked like superficial damage, but unfortunately it turned out to be substantial. With limited time and budget, Michael rallied a team together to repair the vehicle for the next round, where he was driving the car. Orchestrating a body lift on a Land Rover Defender and then rebuilding it before the next race took extreme levels of self-belief, dedication, and hard work, as well as pride for the turnout at the event.
Michael raced in Wales at the Baja stage of the Defender Challenge, and finished the 140-mile event in 6th place. Later in the year, when the team was firmly established, Michael provided an important media role for the team, with Land Rover Monthly and The Landy Magazine giving regular coverage.
Michael filled in for an injured co-driver with James Cameron on the Walter Hill Rally, where they finished 3rd in class, Ludlow rally saw another chance to co-drive but sadly due to a driver error they crashed out early in the round. After 5 rounds of the championship, the team were 6th overall out of 12 and Michael was due to start a work placement with Prototype Vehicle Operations in Jaguar Land Rover Halewood. Michael handed over the duties of team manager, but raced the resilient Defender in the last race of the season finishing what he started with the team.
At Jaguar Land Rover, Michael then moved onto the Plant Vehicle teams and in November 2016 started a long-term placement in the Lean Learning Academy Halewood. In early 2017, Mike accepted a full-time job as a Jointing Engineer in Quality Torque and Weld.
According to Sgt Burton, “I’m loving the job and couldn’t ask for any more as my family is very happy and settled now. I even now own a new Discovery Sport, and for the first time in a long time, I’m happy. The hard work paid off and has opened the door for further skilled service personal to start placements in the future.”