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From microfiche to mobiles – a career keeping the power flowing

When Carol Stonebridge started her first job at the age of 17 she never guessed she would be happily working there 40 years later.

From Press releases - 10 August 2020 12:00 AM

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Carol, from Dovercourt, has been recognised for her service to UK Power Networks by being invited to join the company’s 40+ Club.

Her career began as a clerical trainee in Bury St Edmunds at £50 a week after seeing the job with Eastern Electricity advertised in the local paper. Now she works in Ipswich, training the dispatch staff who send engineers out to fix any power cuts.

In those 40 years Carol said she went from filling in forms that had to be punched into a computer and using microfiche, plus having radios to talk to field engineers, to everything being done on a computer and communicating by mobile phones.

Her strongest memory is of the 1987 storm where she was busy taking calls from people reporting power cuts while engineers were dealing with a multitude of faults in a large area. She said: “The ‘87 gales were an experience, the phones rang continuously, we had the Army helping with cutting fallen trees away from damaged power lines, and the local tv cameras in.  We all worked as hard as we could to get everybody back on supply. It was also my first experience of night shifts.”

Carol said she has loved working in dispatch for the past 25 years and currently misses not seeing her colleagues and friends every day as she works from home due to Covid-19, but is glad of the connection through video communications. She has stayed at UK Power Networks because: “I have always enjoyed my job. I have worked with some lovely people and been well treated by the company.”

Basil Scarsella, chief executive of UK Power Networks, said: “I recognise and celebrate the dedication and expertise of our employees, many of who have lived and worked in the communities we serve, for a long time. Their work keeping the power on is usually carried out behind the scenes, but it enables everyone’s everyday lives to run smoothly.

“Even for those who have been with us for many decades, 2020 has been an unprecedented year and I am hugely proud of all of our staff’s response to the many challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, with everybody working hard to keep the power flowing. Clearly we cannot gather together for our usual 40+ Club dinner this year, but everybody appreciates the reasons why and it remains a milestone well worth marking.”

In addition to career development for existing staff, UK Power Networks continues to run apprenticeships, with new starters due to join in 2021.