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Employee Retires After 45 Years In The Potteries

30 July 2008

Local man Keith Bird, an employee of Stoke-based crockery manufacturer Steelite International, is retiring after 45 years.

Keith began his career in the pottery industry in 1963 at the age of 15. His first job was working for Allied English Potteries (AEP) as Forwarding Clerk, responsible for general despatching of orders. AEP later merged with Royal Doulton where Keith became Production Controller – an often challenging job as there were no computers at the time. In 1983, the division he was working in at Royal Doulton was sold and became Steelite International as it is today. Keith has worked in all areas of Steelite International, from Quality Controller to his current role of Samples Manager.

Born in Stoke-on-Trent, Keith lives just two miles from Steelite International's factory. He remembers a vast number of changes and events that have taken place during his career. Keith recalls the introduction of computer systems and the very first calculator, as well as actor Sir John Mills filming his Potteries-set sitcom Young At Heart, at the Vulcan Pottery in Hanley.

A presentation will be made to Keith tomorrow at 12.30pm at Steelite International's factory in Orme Street.

"While various trends for patterned crockery have come and gone, the manufacturing process has changed very little in the past 45 years," said Keith. "One of the greatest changes I have seen during my career has been the introduction of computers and calculators. I will miss my colleagues but I am looking forward my new spare time – first I'm going to clean out my garage and then enjoy a nice long holiday!"

"As one of our longest serving employees, it is always very useful to have Keith on hand with his vast knowledge of the industry and manufacturing processes," said Bernard Matthews, Production Director at Steelite International. "He has been a great asset to the team so we will be sad to see him go but wish Keith all the very best in his retirement."