Things escalated pretty quickly for Paul Trill after he and his wife Lyn bought a Jaguar XK 140 with which to enjoy their retirement. After having a great time on an XK Club run that had been organised by Paul Abadjian, they put together their own tulip route through the area where they lived – the beautiful South Downs. Then Paul happened to mention that route to his local Representative, Peter Spackman, with the result that it was used for a popular club outing.
Such was its success that Philip and Julie Porter asked Paul if he’d run it for a group of German enthusiasts who were coming over for the Goodwood Revival – and sort out their
accommodation to boot. Having pulled that off with aplomb, Paul and Lyn would spend the next decade or so organising a series of hugely popular events around the UK and beyond.
Backwater Tours was up and running.
Paul describes it with a chuckle as ‘a retirement project that got out of hand’. He and Lyn loved travelling, combined with the route planning and building the tour books, but now
they’ve decided to step back. The Backwater Tours business has therefore been sold to the Albatross Group, which was founded in 1985 and has a huge amount of experience in terms
of organising tours of all kinds.
Paul describes the new owners at Albatross as being ‘lovely people, very approachable’ and soon after first meeting them, he felt confident that they’d represent a safe pair of hands for
the business that he and Lyn had so tirelessly built up.
‘It’s not as if Backwater’s finished,’ he stresses. ‘We founded it and it’s now going on to even better things. We had such fun with it and we’ve made such good friends. We’d like to thank all those people who have made it so enjoyable for us.’
In total, Paul and Lyn organised tours in 21 different locations in the UK, Ireland, France, Holland, Belgium and even, on one memorable occasion, New Zealand. Few have been more enjoyable than Northumberland in the far north-east of England – an area that combines great countryside with superb driving roads. Paul is quick to highlight the importance of the support that he and Lyn received from Louise and everyone at the Jaguar E-Type Club HQ.
‘All of our tours are sold out by the end of the year, for the following year,’ he says, ‘and 80 per cent of people on them have been before, but if we ever wanted some help or knowledge Louise was always there and she was very, very helpful to us. I don’t think we would have done it without her and her team, to be honest with you.’
It was important to Paul and Lyn that the close relationship with the XK Club continued under the new ownership, and fortunately that will very much be the case. They will miss the route planning and, most of all, meeting everyone who comes on a Backwater event. They will also miss the photo competition, in which crews had to identify exactly where along the route a particular photograph had been taken. This seemingly innocuous part of proceedings, for which a small trophy was presented, became surprisingly competitive over
When location and budget allowed, there would often be a surprise of some sort on the final evening of a tour. Over the years, these included barbershop singers, a full Welsh choir,
operatic singing, a fun string quartet, and guest speakers. On rare occasions, Paul would become ‘The Amazing Trillo’ and perform what he calls his ‘schoolboy magic’.
It’s entirely fitting that the 2024 Backwater Tours calendar includes a celebration of the company to be held from 5-7 April at Brooklands. Paul and Lyn will be there, as will the
Albatross Motoring Team, and while the social side of things will be paramount, there will also be a run through the Surrey Hills to enjoy, plus a guided tour of the Brooklands
Museum and even a choice of passenger experiences at Mercedes-Benz World.
Paul is keen to thank everybody for the great fun he and Lyn have had over the years, and while they might still appear on the occasional Backwater Tours event, is it now time for them
to properly enjoy their hard-earned retirement?