By Darren Wright.
My great friend, mentor and one of life’s good guys, Mark ‘Beasty’ Goddard, passed away in July, 2021, aged 67.
This larger-than-life character touched so many lives and lit up so many rooms when he entered them.
In his younger days he was a Burt Reynolds lookalike, he was the kind of guy that women wanted, and men wanted to be like – but the reality is that so few were.
It’s also safe to say that without him there would be no TS Transport – he was my trucking inspiration from the outset.
He was a great guy first and foremost, but he was also a born trucker – like me, trucks were his life – and serendipity resulted in our paths crossing many years ago.
As a primary school kid, living in Southam, Warwickshire, I was playing at an adventure playground when I saw this big truck drive past heading down the small street where we lived.
I grabbed my bike and tore off to see this truck, excited as hell. The truck belonged to Mark Goddard, a man who was to have the single biggest impact on my life and who became my lifelong friend. It was certainly an inauspicious start however and I’m not sure what he thought of this horrible little kid bugging him on a Saturday afternoon: “Mr, can I have a look in your truck?”!
The truck in question was a T reg (1977) Volvo F12 and from that moment I was hooked.
As this kid kept bugging him every time the poor guy got home, we became pretty good pals, I would help him wash and clean the truck and go with him to Birmingham to pick up his next trailer to ship out. I was in my element and, I am fairly sure, I was very annoying as well!
MARK’S TRUCKING LIFE
Mark’s fascination with trucks had started a few years earlier.
In 1972, aged 18, he and his stepdad, Ted – whilst living in Southam, Warwickshire, and with the support of Mark’s mum Pat or ‘Min’ as she was better known – bought a Bedford 35cwt and obtained work from Mark’s Dad, James, who worked for BRS.
Mark started his trucking career delivering multiple drops around the Docks in London. As time progressed Mark and Ted then used a Bedford, complete with trailer, to deliver Chrysler car shells, Avenger car shells and Dodge truck cabs from Hanger 5, Baginton, Warwickshire, throughout the UK.
Mark then met and befriended Jeff Moseley, who was the boss of Morton’s transport, and who along with his son, Phil, had set up a new company called Moseley Trucking.
Mark started working for Moseley’s as a sub-contractor taking Ford Escort Car body shells from Ford at Halewood to Ireland twice a week, starting firstly with a Bedford CF and then buying a Mercedes 306 from Moseley’s. Thereafter he changed this one for a bright orange Mercedes 406 with, as Mark fondly remembered, ‘Michelin Men’ on the bonnet!
Due to the increased number of nights out Mark and Ted then purchased a Mercedes 508 which they converted and extended and a sleeper cab was fitted to it. Mark was still carrying on with the Irish job and also delivering right up to the north of Scotland, in particular Turriff, in Aberdeenshire. Mark recalled the Mercedes 508 with the trailer on it could carry six body shells in total.
Soon enough though Mark wanted to drive “Artics” and went to work as a driver for Vince Sweeney from Rugby on a Ford Transcontinental 290E Southern Irish registration number 6501LI, running beef from Cork and Clonmel out to North Africa, sub-contracting for ‘Ferrywheel Transport’.
After Vince Sweeney, Mark then went to work for a man that was to become a huge friend to him – Rod Saunders from Long Itchington. Mark was driving a Scania 111 for Rod, pulling a tanker for IBIS Transport to begin with and then he started driving what was to become his first ever owner/operator artic truck, a Volvo F12 330bhp from Dick Craddock from Maidstone.
Mark still worked for Rod Saunders during this time when Dick Craddock was looking to sell the truck, complete with the work which was regular, for Anglo Overseas from Erdington, near Birmingham, running with Groupage out to Belgium, Holland and Germany.
Mark really enjoyed the work and with Rod Saunders’s best wishes he ended up purchasing the truck along with the work from Anglo Overseas for himself.
The truck had a fresh coat of paint somewhere along the way and worked faithfully up until the purchase of Mark’s first ever new truck, the absolutely stunning red and gold A666 LKV – a Volvo F12 385bhp Globetrotter, which was to be as much of a custom truck show winner as it was a head turner and it featured in Headlight magazine in September, 1987.
HEADLIGHT MAG COVER IMAGE
Mark moved from Southam to Northampton and Anglo Overseas also expanded and moved out to Aldridge, Birmingham. And in late 1987 Mark ordered his next new truck, a Volvo F16 6×2 S ride (Rear Lift) Globetrotter Registration number F116 HFC. This again had a full custom pearlescent paint job by Southam Garage Services. The end result was absolutely stunning with twin Eminox stacks setting the truck off completely.
Shortly after this latest purchase Mark supplied his own trailer onto the Anglo job, moving from an Anglo straightframe tilt semi trailer to a larger volume step frame Van Hool tri axle tilt trailer for the growing groupage deliveries. Initially hired from TIP Trailer Hire, he eventually purchased the trailer and painted it with matching paintwork and the tilt cover was adorned with the Anglo Overseas livery.
The F16 was an incredibly faithful and strong servant and frequent truck show winner for many years but was finally and sadly part exchanged for the completely revamped version 1 model of the all new Volvo FH16-520 Globetrotter Registration number N830 GVF around 1996. A short while after this the trailer also underwent a full refurbishment and conversion from a tilt trailer into a more user friendly Euroliner by Essex trailers and the livery was changed to Aircraft Blue.
There were also some significant changes to the companies Mark worked for which saw Anglo Overseas and Union Transport of Frankfurt split and Anglo, now owned by The Ziegler Group, formed a new partnership with Transbest in Frankfurt. It was subsequently bought out by Global player Panalpina and Mark’s work and return load work was then handled by Anglo (Ziegler) from Aldridge, Birmingham and Panalpina out of Stuttgart, Germany.
I remember Mark and some Dutch ‘Danzas’ drivers took me out in Stuttgart for what they called my International Truck Drivers’ initiation. That was some night I can tell you, visiting bar after bar, but they ended up worse than me and I was pretty wrecked! Poor Mark was drinking my shots as well as his own and they also all had a ‘Catwalk’ Beer and Brandy party when we eventually got back to the trucks, at which point I bowed out! They were all really fantastic, good guys and I miss them.
I had been trying desperately for such a long time to find F116 HFC to hopefully purchase and restore back to her former glory without Mark’s knowledge and to deliver what I hoped would be a great surprise for him once she was completed. Eventually with the help of friends I finally tracked her down – well some of her- but it was a wasted mission because poor old F116 HFC was sadly no more as she was dismantled, cut up and does live on, but in various other vehicles rather spread around now. The cab is apparently on a recovery truck and the engine was sold to someone in Ireland.
The only part left was the front half of the chassis from where it had been cut, and the front axle which I relinquished and told Mark about this to which he replied, ‘that would be one heavy wheelbarrow’.
Mark’s trademark was ‘THE BEAST’ and this came about from the 666 registration number that was registered to the F12 … Mark was 6ft plus and as broad shouldered as he was tall, so he fitted the bill!
One of the regular weekly German delivery points Mark went to was Union Transport in Frankfurt and he became good friends with them all there and one particular guy nicknamed him ‘MR BEAST’.
The slight adjustment to the name came when the later vehicle F116 HFC appeared. I recall once when I was out with Mark, and was very young at the time, this very same German chap asked Mark if I was “the product of his lovemaking” – those Germans!
In 1984 Mark bought his first brand new truck A666 LKV a LHD F12 385bhp Globetrotter 4×2 tractor unit – This truck was absolutely stunning and screamed ‘look at me’ from all sides. It won several trophies at many truck shows and stayed with Mark up to 1988 when MR BEAST came home.
On Mark’s first ever trip with A666 LKV on his way back from the maiden voyage in Dover, Mark was cut up in the docks by an Austrian driver who nearly took the side out of Mark’s new pride and joy. The red mist descended and Mark jumped out of A666 to have a ‘quiet word’ but on landing shattered his knee and was rushed to hospital.
Mark was discharged from hospital unable to drive for 4 weeks! New truck to pay for, mortgage, bills etc, this was a total disaster …in came a guardian angel and friend Mick Tully.
Mick parked up his old Bedford in the drive and swapped into a one week old F12 Globetrotter (nice swap !) and Mick took his family with him and covered for Mark during his convalescence.. what a friend!
Mick died of cancer a few years later and his ashes were scattered from a Ferry in the Channel … so sad.
Then there was another LHD truck, but this time the most powerful truck of its time, a Volvo F16 6×2 S ride (Rear Lift) Globetrotter, Twin Eminox stacks pearlescent white paint with Porsche Surinard red striping. This truck was awesome, looked awesome, sounded even more awesome and I am sure you have guessed this is where the 16 litre Volvo obsession began and carried on for the rest of his life.
As well as a trucker Mark was also a biker and with some friends, he completed the legendary 2,500miles Route 66 on his Harley Davidson Glide in 2014. He also wanted to do the Pacific Highway trip, but never managed to.
SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS
In 1992 when I passed my Class 1, I drove for and with Mark, running to Germany with groupage for Anglo Overseas. This was a massive learning curve for me – not only did I get to drive this amazing machine I also got to learn from a complete professional that had very high standards and expected the same of me. There were some well-deserved bollockings along the way, but I never got pissed off at him because I knew it was done for the right reasons and I think I made him proud sometimes too.
My Dad was a heavy diesel mechanic after he left school which is where I assume my obsession with trucks really began. This and the fact that my Uncle Bert drove Internationally from Angus, Scotland, all the way out to Saudi Arabia, which fascinated me. The stories of weeks, sometimes months, away from home, the endless tales he told me of his journeys and all that happened in-between were captivating for me. I would spend a lot of time with my Uncle Bert in my latter school years and travelled with him for thousands of miles, learning all the time, looking up to the people I most respected and trying my hardest to make them proud of me.
My Uncle was a tough Scottish character and took some pleasing and he would give you a real ass-kicking when you got it wrong!
I specifically remember Roping and Sheeting classes from my Uncle at a place in Halifax where he told me, “I will show you this only once then you’re on your own.” There would have been some expletives in there too! A fantastic role model and a man I am proud as hell to have spent quality time with and I learned so much from him.
Mark battled throat cancer in the early part of the 21st Century and fully recovered from it. When he was receiving treatment however a young driver was commissioned to take his nearly new truck to Europe, but after making some basic driving errors at the Channel Tunnel train entrance the truck was damaged and unusable. But the full load, which was intact, still had to be transported to Europe, so mustering up all the courage I possessed, I booked an Easyjet flight to Luton (despite never having flown before and having a fear of flying), hired a car and then a truck, an ex Dockspeed FH12, and managed to deliver the load on behalf of my great friend. I know he would have done it for me. And our friendship cured my fear of flying too!
He was always a sounding board for me and in many respects was a ‘guiding light’ for TS Transport, but around this time fate also played a hand in him then working with me for a few years. This was truly a full circle experience, as the man who was my main motivation in creating my company- the man I used to drive for – was now working with me at TS Transport.
On Friday, July 16th 2021 Mark sent me photos of his truck all washed and in his words ‘looking the business’ when he parked up for the week all ready for Monday departure again. However, my world was to forever change when Mark suffered a stroke at 11pm on Saturday, July 17th 2021 and after numerous distressing phone calls from his fiancé Tina to 999 finally after 6 hours of waiting for a paramedic response he was eventually taken to hospital. I talked to him on the phone on Sunday and I noticed a fear in his voice, telling me he was so scared and so tired.
But our spirits and hopes lifted when he was apparently his old self on the Monday, laughing, most likely flirting and joking with the nurses and telling them about his truck and his Harley. Then, however, on Tuesday through the night Mark suffered another stroke and never regained consciousness, eventually passing away at 7am on Wednesday, July 21st, 2021.
I couldn’t have asked for a better friend, role model and mentor. My grief is only surpassed by that of his fiancé, Tina and his daughters Holly and Tash, and sons JJ, Ben and Jay. He was also a grandfather many times over.
He was cremated privately, but instead of a funeral service Tina held a festival in celebration of his life which the family called Beastyfest at Towcester Racecourse in August, 2021.
There was a convoy of trucks and countless Harleys from Northampton to Towcester and all his friends got together and toasted his life. He wasn’t one to encourage a mournful experience. We were sad, but the mood was upbeat. It was what he would have wanted.
He will continue to live on through those of us who loved him. I have created a memorial lorry for him – the last truck he ever drove for me – and so truckers the length and breadth of the UK – and who knows maybe even in Germany – can sound their horns in appreciation of a great trucker, an inspiring figure and a life well lived.