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Retire? I'm only 90! The B&Q worker who refuses to put his feet up

With rising state pension age, we have all been warned we will be working longer in the future. But that doesn’t bother Albert Billington, who is happy being one of Britain’s oldest workers.

At 90 years old he shows he is still a very handy man to have around - working at DIY store B&Q.

Mr Billington only joined the company at the age of 67 after a 53 year career in the print industry. Beginning at the age of 14 in the general print trade he worked at a number of national newspapers on Fleet Street.

But on his retirement he found he missed the discipline and camaraderie of work he started work in 1990 at B&Q Sutton in south London where he served as the car park attendant. He worked in the car park until the age of 80 when he left to work as a store greeter in Bristol.

For the past 10 years his pleasant demeanour, friendly welcome and beaming smile have greeted customers on arrival at the store.

But he was given royal treatment by his bosses this week when he celebrated his 90th birthday.
A vintage Bentley - one of Mr Billington’s favourite cars - was sent to his house in ensure he would arrive in work in style and his birthday was celebrated with a specially-baked birthday cake.

And as a valued member of the workforce he was also presented with a one-of-a-kind silver B&Q apron to mark the landmark birthday by store manager, Alan Lamberm.

Customers and colleagues were on hand to help cheer on the plucky nonagenarian. Mr Lamberm, manager at Longwell Green, Bristol, said: ‘We’re excited to be able to share in the excitement of Albert’s big day.

‘To still be working at aged 90 is no mean feat and we’re proud to have him in our team here.

‘Albert is a much loved colleague who does a great job greeting our customers and passing on his home improvement knowledge. He really is a shining example of the fact that age is really just a number and that you’re only as old as you feel.’

As a naturally gregarious person, Mr Billington says enjoys meeting different people and now has several close friends he had met through his work.

He also enjoys DIY and has completed numerous home improvement projects through the years which puts him in good stead when he comes to advise customers in-store.

B&Q - the UK’s largest home improvement retailer - says it is proud of the diversity within its workforce with over a quarter (28 per cent) of store employees aged over 50.

B&Q scrapped its own retirement age in the mid 1990s after a project saw an entire store in Macclesfield, Cheshire being staffed by employees over 50 - the initiative produced 18 per cent higher profits and six times less staff turnover.
B&Q was also founding member of the Employers Forum on Age, a network created by employers to remove barriers to an age-balanced workforce.

Sydney Prior was B&Q’s previous oldest worker. He died last year at the age of 97. Britain’s oldest shopkeeper - 103-year-old Jack Yaffe - died last year after running a store in Manchester since 1934.

Source : Jaya Narain – Daily Mail

15 March 2013
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