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Farewell Eileen!

After a 30-year career, during which time she’s worked alongside three generations of the Gibbons family, Finance Director Eileen Lewis retires today.

It’s a day of mixed feelings for the staff at Gibbons Engineering Group – we’re all delighted that Eileen’s taking a well-earned rest after three decades of service, but there’s sadness that a very popular and much-valued colleague is leaving.

All the staff clubbed together to buy Eileen a Kindle and accessories as a farewell gift, which was presented at a special lunch yesterday. The company have also arranged for Eileen and her husband to enjoy a weekend away at a destination of their choice!

As Eileen prepared to sign off, we caught up with her for a quick chat about her time at Gibbons.

How have things changed since you started?

The main difference is the expansion of the company. When I joined the business, it was just Wilf Gibbons selling electric motors, gearboxes and pumps, and Barrie Bloomfield managing the workshop. There were five staff employed in the workshop and interestingly two of them are with the company to this day.

When I started, the business was based in two small offices and a workshop down the road from the current premises. We eventually moved to a larger single-storey building which we soon outgrew, and now I’m in the fully air-conditioned luxury office with the best of views from my desk!

The technology has evolved too – in the early days it was hand-written ledgers and the telex machine. I remember being wowed by the arrival of the fax machine!

Do you have any favourite memories from your time at Gibbons?

Working with Wilf Gibbons – never to be forgotten.

There are many stories but I fondly remember driving the flatbed truck up to Canary Wharf to deliver a panel at a pre-set time to the HSBC building which was under construction. I had to leave the truck at Billingsgate Fish Market car park to report to the site office and felt very small among the huge lorries, plant and an army of men before being allowed to drive the truck onto the site. Fortunately the reverse gear on the truck didn’t let me down that day!

What will you miss most?

All the people I work with.

What won’t you miss?

VAT and HMRC inspections, completing government statistic forms; getting up early on cold, dark mornings (now I’ll be able to snuggle back down under the duvet!); being the last to leave the building and having to lean over the men’s urinals to close the window; and finally those telephone calls at home to advise that the intruder alarm has gone off yet again!

What are you looking forward to most about retirement?

Having more time to spend with my husband, family and friends.

How will you keep yourself occupied?

I intend to travel, research my family tree (I’ve only managed to get back to 1782), improve my O-level French, buy a bike and whatever else takes my fancy!

Finally, we’d like to thank Eileen for 30 years’ dedicated service and wish her all the very best for a long, happy retirement!

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