Fifty years of loyalty

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But for Mick Hinault, it was an even more amazing achievement, because more than 25 years ago his late father completed half a century at the same company. Mr Hinault joined the team at Normans on 15 April 1959 and has spent the last 30 years working as the manager of the timber department.

When his father, Jean-Marie, left the same company in 1981, he had also knocked-up 50 years working for them, as a lorry driver. And to keep things truly in the family, Mr Hinault’s grandfather also worked for the firm – driving a horse and cart.

Mr Hinault was joined by almost 25 of Normans’ longest-serving staff to celebrate his golden milestone last week. Their lengths of service ranged from 25 to 49 years, and between them they have accumulated service to the company of nearly 800 years.

Mr Hinault was just 15 when he started at the firm in 1959 as an apprentice joiner, at what is now the Iron Stores. After doing that for 15 years, he moved to Normans’ timber mill.

He worked his way up and become foreman of that department and then eventually became timber manager. Over the past three decades that role has involved him dealing with the day-to-day running of the department and ordering all their timber.

‘My brother started out as a joiner and I decided to follow suit. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to carry on,’ he said. ‘It’s a great company to work for and I’ve met some lovely people over the years.

‘I’ve enjoyed everything about my job as timber manager – the whole show. And I really enjoyed learning my trade as a joiner as well.’

Mr Hinault and his wife Carol have two children, Anne-Marie and Sharon. He is currently the longest-serving member of staff at Normans and will be retiring at the end of this month.

‘I wanted to retire a couple of years ago, but I decided to stick it out so that I could reach my 50 years with the company,’ he said. ‘I turned 65 at the end of March so I have stayed on for an extra month in order to reach this milestone. It’s been a struggle, but I’ve got there! When I retire, I plan to take life as it comes. I think I deserve a break, so I will be enjoying myself.’

Mr Hinault, who is a keen snooker and badminton player, added: ‘I’ve seen a lot off changes over the last 50 years, particularly with the introduction of computers, and also there is so much more emphasis on health and safety now. But it’s been a great 50 years working for the company. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.’

Presenting Mr Hinault with a number of gifts last week, operations director Tim Darwin described the achievement as ‘an incredible milestone’.

‘It is something that the company are very proud of and that I know Mick is as well,’ said Mr Darwin. ‘He was always very keen to see this milestone through. His family have been devoted employees of Normans.’

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