Paul Abbott has never been one to put his feet up and reach for the TV remote. The 44-year-old earlier this year linked with Hydrochem – the North East water treatment specialist and, as its water treatment sales manager, is enthusiastically moving the business forward.
Hydrochem is one of the region’s oldest water treatment firms, checking office blocks, care homes, schools and factories to ensure their water and heating supplies are both safe and compliant with health and safety laws. They make heating systems work efficiently, too.
And while Paul’s CV shows he’s worked across the UK and Europe for a number of similar businesses, life in the lab is a far cry from his hobbies. Off duty, he swaps mixing chemicals for mixing music – with a spot of speedway riding too.
“I always fancied a career in music when I left school,” he explains. “In the rave scene of the late 1980s, I used my wages from a job in a record shop to buy equipment. I started DJ-ing in places like warehouses, and it grew from there - all the latest house and techno stuff. I ended up DJ-ing in London.
“I got plenty of work, had some crazy nights and was resident DJ at the Arena in Middlesbrough. I also played the Hacienda in Manchester. I had a proper job as well in London, again in water treatment. It was hard getting up on a Monday morning when I’d been DJ-ing at all-nighters all weekend. So I put it on a backburner and came back North after I met my partner Romina. I still do some DJ sets at festivals - I’ve one planned for this summer - but not as much as I used to.”
Now instead Paul, who lives at Yarm, may be seen in his racing leathers heading to Teesside Motorsports Park to pursue his other passion – speedway. “I went to see Middlesbrough Tigers in 1985 and got hooked. My mam thought it too dangerous so she never let me buy a bike when I was younger.
“But when I got a good company bonus a few years ago I bought my own bike. Most riders taking up speedway are aged between 15 and 21. So at 44 I’ve left it late. But I spend a lot of time on the track practising and getting better. I’m taking it seriously. I’ve lost over a stone since January as the lighter you are the faster you can ride. So I’m committed. I think I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, but life’s too short to reach a stage where you look back and think ‘I wish I’d done that’.”
Whether or not a career in speedway takes off, Paul is focused on helping Hydrochem grow. He also finds time for family life. He has a 22-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, and is dad also to a six-year-old daughter and twin girls – the latter making big arrival a few months ago. They’re proving not so easy to handle as tight bends on a