A company boss is back in the driving seat after a life-changing battle with cancer.
Bill Abbott set up Hartlepool-based water treatment firm Hydrochem in 1987, which boasts the likes of Bannatyne’s, Bourne Leisure and Marriott Hotels on its client list.
But Bill faced a personal fight of his own after he was struck with bowel cancer two years ago.
“It puts things into perspective when the doctor tells you that you have cancer,” said Bill, who is married to Terri and dad to Clare and Paul.
“It certainly makes you see things differently when you get news like that.”
He described the news as “a bombshell” and added: “I was probably close to selling the business, but you think about the people that work there and what would happen to them, you go through all the emotions.
Early on weekend mornings before breakfast I sometimes fly from Teesside airport across the Pennines, over the Lake District, up over Carlisle and then back down over Holy Island down the Northumberland coastline before seeing Hartlepool waking up.Bill Abbott
“We had a business plan, things were in place for the next few months. But cancer wasn’t on that plan.”
But Bill came through his operation and two years down the line his specialists are happy with his progress.
Now, he is determined to look forward rather than back as he aims to take Hydrochem, which is based on the Graythorp Industrial Estate, to the next level.
He added: “It’s a tough industry to be in, but everywhere you look there is water.
“We look after leisure centres, hotels, schools, basically anywhere with a heating or water system.
“We have to stay ahead of the field, there is a lot of competition and when it comes to diagnosing problems with things like boilers, heaters, air conditioning units and the likes, there is no room for error with things like Legionnaire’s Disease.”
Bill has a pilot’s licence, and a part-share in a light aircraft with some friends.
He said: “You literally can get away from everything up there.
“Early on weekend mornings before breakfast I sometimes fly from Teesside airport across the Pennines, over the Lake District, up over Carlisle and then back down over Holy Island down the Northumberland coastline before seeing Hartlepool waking up.
“You’re up there for three or four hours at a time; I absolutely love it and there’s no better way to escape from the daily grind.”