Friday, 20 June 2008


One of my colleagues, Fred Burton, retired this week, after 72 years since he first joined the staff way back in 1936 . Save for a period of service with the RAF during the Second World War, his employment has been continuous, albeit in latter years devoted to library duties for two days per week. Now aged 88, Fred, who has been interviewed by both the Press and local TV station concerning this remarkable achievement, has accredited it to enjoying his work and the company of the other people in the office.

Fred hails from an era when loyalty to King and country as well as to family and employer were paramount. Back in 1936 and despite the publicity engendered that year by the abdication of Edward VIII in order to marry the divorcee Mrs Simpson, divorce was still pretty much an unknown concept for ordinary folk.

There is an argument that if we could rediscover the ethos of loyalty rather than the pursuit of self gratification, the divorce rate would decrease and society would be simpler and more stable. Some might even say happier. Ultimately, however, loyalty has to be earned and should be a two way process not a belief or principle generated by blind faith. That’s why employers in the 21st century have to work to retain staff and it takes both partners in a marriage to commit to and work at that union for it to remain successful.

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