British master papermaker James Cropper has celebrated the retirement of two employees, who have notched up almost a century of service between them.
On Friday 10 February, Sir James Cropper met Keith Duckett and Peter Robinson to thank them for their long service and commitment to the company.
Keith, who has worked for James Cropper since he was just 15 years old, has served the business for nearly 50 years. He started as an apprentice fitter in 1967 and, after completing a mechanical engineering craft practice course at the local Allen Technical College in Kendal (recently celebrating a centenary of education and training in South Lakeland), Keith has worked as a maintenance craftsperson in the engineering team.
Keith said: “I’ve really enjoyed all my years working at James Cropper, which not everyone can say after nearly 50 years! I’ll always have very fond memories of my time at the mill, but I’m equally looking forward to making new ones in my retirement. I have a keen interest in biking, wildlife and cricket, and with the arrival of a new grandson I am sure that I will have a lot on my plate!”
Peter Robinson, who like Sir James, is the fifth generation of his family to work at the paper mill in Burneside, joined the business when he was 16 years old as a paper testing assistant. At that time, his father, 2 brothers, 2 sisters-in-law, 2 cousins and an uncle were all working for the business. He has worked across all 4 paper machines in the course of his career, and ends his time as machineman on PM4, with responsibility for running the largest paper machine at the mill. Peter has now hung up his papermaking hat after almost 47 years, and being the last of the Robinson’s to work at the James Cropper mill, his departure marks the end of an era.
Peter said: “It was a real honour to get a personal thank you from Sir James, over the years he has always taken a real interest in the people working at the mill. There is a huge sense of community here at James Cropper and it is the people that I will miss the most, I have worked with hundreds of individuals over the years and have a lot happy memories.”
“I plan to re-ignite my longstanding interest in bird watching and photography in my retirement, and have recently purchased a digital SLR camera that I am planning to make full use of both at home and abroad. My wife and I have already planned a trip to Iceland in a few weeks’ time, and then later in the year we are visiting the Kruger National Park in South Africa.”
Sir James Cropper, honorary president of the company, and the great, great, grandson of the mill’s founder, said: “We’re very lucky at James Cropper to have many long-serving and committed employees, but it’s truly remarkable to have two such loyal and hardworking staff members reach such a milestone in the same month. I want to take this opportunity to thank them wholeheartedly for their dedication and effort over the years.”
“Keith and Peter represent what James Cropper is all about – hard work, loyalty and, above all, passion. The company has changed much over the years that they’ve worked here, with new machinery, working processes and techniques. Their long service is testament to our employees’ commitment to be forward-thinking and embrace innovation.”
Keith and Peter will officially retire on 28 February 2017.