Norfolk Sailmaker 'who has only ever had one day off' retires after 55 years at same firm

  • ITV News Anglia's Andy Ward went along to Brian's big send-off

A long-serving sailmaker who has only ever had one day off has retired after 55 years in the job.

When foreman Brian Saunders, 70, first started working at Jeckells Sailmakers in Wroxham in Norfolk as a 15-year-old in 1968, he was paid two shillings an hour.

Ahead of his last shift on Saturday, colleagues threw a surprise celebration at the company's factory to mark his incredible service.

Staff managed to throw him off the scent by sending him out on a fictitious rigging job.

Mr Saunders has worked for the same company for 55 years. Credit: Family photo

"I knew something was going on as I went out to measure the boat, and I said to the boy who came with me, I think this is a bit of a wind-up," he laughed.

"I'm going to miss this place so much. It's been my life hasn't it? Every day I've been here and that's all I know isn't it?"

The celebration was deliberately timed for 1pm because that is the time that Mr Saunders returns to the factory every day to eat his sandwiches.

Shortly after his arrival, where he was greeted by family and friends, Mr Saunders was presented with a retirement gift and a special plaque from the company.

During a speech, managing director Chris Jeckells joked that he had wanted to read out some of Mr Saunders' sick notes from down the years, but was unable to do so because he'd only ever had one day off in all that time.

"He's been a huge asset to the company," Mr Jeckells told ITV News Anglia.

"He's got a great sense of humour and he can make you laugh about things that really you should be crying about. He's just always there. You could go to him with any problem and without any hesitation he'll be there. He's just a great bloke."

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