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It’s a hat-trick of hard work

Three men who started work on the same day as raw young apprentices have just clocked up 40 years’ service – still colleagues and still with the same company.

From Press releases - 23 September 2014 12:00 AM

Three men who started work on the same day as raw young apprentices have just clocked up 40 years’ service – still colleagues and still with the same company.

Now their employer, power company UK Power Networks, has honoured them for their loyalty. As new members of its 40+ Club, John Gibbs, Colin Bush and Kevin Burt were invited to join other staff from across the South East for champagne celebrations.

John, 59, joined what was then Seeboard four days before his 19th birthday as a technical staff trainee.

Like all the apprentice engineers, his first task was to make his own toolbox and tools – and not only does he still have them but he still uses them. He said: “They are proper, hand-made tools. The idea was to teach us metalwork.”

John, who lives in Crowborough and is based in Crawley, trained in Kent and recalls being made an engineering assistant, then a third engineer, a second engineer and finally, after a secondment with the Electricity Council, a fully-fledged engineer. He later worked in major projects and is proud the substations he designed are still in use on the network.

He is now contingency planning manager and over the past 20 years in emergency planning has been involved in some major incidents, including the operation around the Millennium bug and the 2012 London Olympics.

Like John, Colin was 18 when he joined the company straight from school and worked his way up the ranks. He moved into management many years ago and has held various roles including distribution planning manager, inspection and maintenance manager and, since January this year, transformation programme manager.

Colin, 58, who lives in Horsham, said: “I really enjoy what I do. It’s been a good company to work for and I have always been with a great team of people. In the early days, when we started, we were going through a recession and jobs were hard to find so if you had one, you held on to it, especially as power engineering was pretty specialised.”

Kevin was only 16 when he spotted an advert for the apprenticeship scheme in 1974. He had to decide whether to stay on at school for A levels or take the apprenticeship. He chose the latter and a few years ago his successful career resulted in him being made a fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, prestigious recognition of his standing in the company.

Kevin, who lives in Shoreham, has worked in many roles during his 40 years and is now Substation Standards Manager. He’s come a long way but can still remember his first pay packet. He said: “It was £5.50 for my first month.

“The company has changed a lot since I started but it’s a good company to work for and I intend to carry on for as long as I continue to enjoy my job, which I do. It’s nice to be a point of reference for the business and there’s lots of variety and challenges in my role.”

UK Power Networks’ 40+ Club is for staff who notch up 40 or more years’ continuous service. They were invited to The Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel in London for a champagne dinner where they each received a plaque from Chief Executive Basil Scarsella.

Basil said: “I’m proud to have such loyal, long-serving staff who give so much to the company. Their experience and knowledge really is invaluable. We started the 40+ Club in 2012 to honour the contribution of long-serving colleagues such as these – and they most certainly deserve the recognition.”

UK Power Networks, which is Britain’s largest electricity network operator and delivers electricity to eight million people in London, the South East and East of England, employs 5,600 staff.