Michael says farewell after 50 years

VIDEO When Michael Finbow first started at the Co-Operative Society in Ipswich 50 years ago, he used to tie stock from the wholesalers on the back of his bicycle with wire cables.

WHEN Michael Finbow first started at the Co-Operative Society in Ipswich 50 years ago, he used to tie stock from the wholesalers on the back of his bicycle with wire cables.

This is just one of the many memories Mr Finbow will treasure as he begins his retirement today.

The veteran Co-op worker started as an apprentice electrician at the works department on Waterworks Street, now Star Lane, at the tender age of 15.

Once he qualified he quickly rose up the ranks and in 1988 he was promoted to service engineer - a post he held until his retirement on Friday.

Mr Finbow, 65, of Arundel Way, Ipswich, was invited to go for the job by the foreman engineer who lived in the same street yet he never imagined he would be working for the same company half a century later.

He said: “I suppose I have stayed so long because I was happy with what I was doing. I've never been out of a job and get paid every week so what more could you want.

Most Read

“With the job I've been doing, it has also meant I travel around East Anglia and meet a lot of people and I think that is the most enjoyable aspect of it. I won't miss the work but I'll miss the people.”

A former colleague, 77-year-old Dennis Old, trained him as an apprentice and attended his retirement party in the Co-Op Education Centre in Fore Street, Ipswich.

Mr Old, of Blandford Road, said: “When I shook his hand 50 years ago on his first day, I never thought I would be shaking his hand again now. It has gone by so quickly.”

To watch an interview with Michael Finbow visit www.eveningstar.co.uk.

SINCE Mr Finbow started at the Co-op there have been six chief executives and four works department managers, and the company has gone from being a very small local business, which was then called Ipswich Industrial Society, to covering a vast area including Norwich and Essex.

He described his role as varied, being responsible for the procurement of services including electricity, telephones, refrigerators, maintenance and ventilation.

Richard Samson, chief executive of the East Of England Co-Operative Society, said: “Mike is one of the very few that has been with the Co-Op for this long - it's hard to imagine what it was like back then. It is a tremendous achievement.”

It looks like Mr Finbow won't be slowing down any time soon though, as he and his wife Sylvia, who have a daughter called Alison, are qualified dance teachers and are off on a number of cruises to teach sequence and ballroom dancing.

“I am really looking forward to it. It will mean a bit of travelling with a bit of work, although it's not really like work,” Mr Finbow said.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter