A key worker from Bury St Edmunds has had his long service with the electricity industry recognised by his employer UK Power Networks.
The company invites staff who have given 40 years of continuous service to join a special 40-plus club with a further certificate for those who reach 50.
Nigel Cross has done just that, starting an apprenticeship with what was then the Central Electricity Generating Board back in 1970 and qualifying as a substation fitter before relocating to Bury St Edmunds in 1983 where he is still based.
He was part of the huge team which dealt with the aftermath of the Great Storm of 1987 and has given back to the Moreton Hall area where he lives by becoming volunteer chair of its community centre.
Nigel, 66, said: “There have been a lot of changes in 50 years, but I wouldn’t have stayed this long if I hadn’t kept enjoying it. I joined what was then Central Electricity Generating Board in September 1970 and did my first year of training in Brighton earning £5 12s and 4p [the equivalent of around £80 in today’s money]. I remember another 15s went on your lodgings.
“There were three or four jobs I looked at, including the possibility of joining the police, but I felt this one was the best option. You were guaranteed a job on completing training, but there were no vacancies at Sizewell, the power station I was at, so I went to the old Cliff Quay facility, in Ipswich, as an electrical fitter.
“When Cliff Quay began to close down I switched to Eastern Electricity in 1983 which is when I first moved to Bury. At the time my wife was six months pregnant so it was an interesting time to move house. I’m still in Bury now, though I’ve always looked to broaden my horizons by adding skills such as jointing to my fitting work.
“I was part of the team which cleared up after the Great Storm in 1987. That really was all hands to the wheel, people would turn up from all sorts of places to help us out, people I’ve probably never seen since, but it was a great effort to get supplies back on over a number of weeks.
“I’ve been aware of 50 years coming up and it’s a landmark I’ve held on for really. Having reached it, I plan to retire at some point next year, but I’ll continue to focus on my voluntary work as chair of Moreton Hall Community Centre, the estate where I live. There are plans to expand the building with a new library so I’ll stay involved with that.”
Basil Scarsella, chief executive of UK Power Networks, said: “I recognise and celebrate the dedication and expertise of our employees, many of who have lived and worked in the communities we serve, for a long time. Their work keeping the power on is usually carried out behind the scenes, but it enables everyone’s everyday lives to run smoothly.
“Even for those who have been with us for many decades, 2020 has been an unprecedented year and I am hugely proud of all of our staff’s response to the many challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, with everybody working hard to keep the power flowing.
“Clearly we cannot gather together for our usual 40+ Club dinner this year, but everybody appreciates the reasons why and it remains a milestone well worth marking.”
The company has 500 employees with over 40 years’ service. A total of 86 staff across London, the South East and East of England reached their 40th or 50th milestone this year.
In addition to career development for existing staff, UK Power Networks continues to run apprenticeships, with new starters due to join in 2021.
Pictured above is Nigel Cross who has completed 50 years in the electricity industry with UK Power Networks.