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Motorbike loving grandad looks back on his record 53 years working at Severn Trent

He’s the motorbike-loving grandad who’s still working at full throttle after becoming Severn Trent’s longest serving employee – clocking up more than 53 years.

And Clive Turner, 70, looked back on his record-breaking career with the water company, which covers the East and West Midlands, and said: “I’ve loved every moment… but it seems like only yesterday that I joined.”

The dad-of-four was a fresh-faced 16-year-old when he was offered a job at North Derbyshire Water Board on September 1 in 1970, working on woodland maintenance at the picturesque Linacre reservoirs.

Clive Turner at Linacre

Nature loving Clive, who grew up near Chesterfield, recalled: “After finishing school I spent six months in a factory making settees. I just didn’t like being indoors, I’d grown up loving the countryside and the woods so when the job came up at Linacre, it was perfect.”

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Clive’s role involved maintaining the ancient woodland, grass and general areas surrounding the three reservoirs at the site, now called Linacre Water.

Clive Turner on his bike

And he recalled how he feared one memorable mishap in the 1970s might cost him and his colleague their jobs.

“We’d parked a dumper truck near a reservoir bank, but the handbrake failed and it later rolled down and into the water,” he recalled.

“We had to call divers in to attach a winch to get it back out. Thankfully, management realised it was an accident and no harm was caused as we sorted things very quickly.”

Clive was at Linacre when his ‘District 13’ of the North Derbyshire Water Board became part of the newly-formed Severn Trent in 1974. He worked through the great drought of 1976 and by the time of privatisation in 1989 had become a technical operator, providing checks and maintenance for reservoir sites and pumping stations in the north Derbyshire area.

It is a role he continues in today, still working four days a week on vital tasks including monitoring water levels, making quality checks and helping with repairs when needed.

“I’ve seen lots of changes over the years, including new technology and new regulations but my job has not massively changed,” he said.

“I love my role mainly because I’m out and about all the time and every day is different. I have list of things to do each day and work my way through them.

“Derbyshire is such a beautiful county and I’ve been privileged to see lots of it during my career at Severn Trent, driving from site to site.

“I’ve always been a big nature lover and this job allows me to enjoy that too, including seeing everything from giant caterpillars to birds of prey and even bats.”

And his love of nature once saw him attract one unexpected fan – a wild magpie.

Clive recalled: “I’d nurse injured birds back to health when I was younger, from rooks to magpies.

“But there was this one Magpie that used to fly in and sit on the steering wheel of my dumper truck as I was working at Linacre.

“I used to feed it and it would just keep coming back to see me. I’d heard it would also follow some local kids to their schools as well.”

Interacting with customers has also been a fulfilling part of his job.

“Some of the older reservoirs or pumping station might only supply a few homes, so if there were any issues you would get to know the customers,” he said.

“And over the years they would go from customers to friends, which was a lovely part of the job too.”

And divorced Clive has no plans to take his foot off the pedal when it comes to retirement just yet.

“I’d have no reason to get up in the morning without my job,” he chuckled.

“I love nothing more than coming to work and doing my job well – that gives me the greatest satisfaction of all.”

Other pleasures in life include enjoying his growing family, with the youngest members jokingly calling him ‘grumpy grandad’.

There there’s his lifelong love of motorbikes, a passion which will see him embark on an annual roadtrip to France this summer on his 650cc Kawasaki with a former Linacre workmate, who started with him all those years ago.

“We are best mates and will travel to this one spot on the French/German border where a bridge crosses the two countries,” he said.

“That means we can camp in France and then walk over the bridge to enjoy a meal at a Chinese restaurant that is in Germany!”

Clive reminisced as Severn Trent celebrates its 50th year since forming in 1974. A series of articles are planned, titled: ‘Our people, proudly serving our region for 50 years.’

Looking back on his career, it is clear the dedicated and modest family man is proud of what he has achieved by becoming the longest serving employee out of a workforce of more than 8,500.

“I can’t believe I’ve been here more than 53 years, it has gone by so quickly,” he said.

“I’ve met many lifelong friends during my time here, Severn Trent has been a brilliant company to work for, very supportive and flexible.

“I remember when I first joined and someone told me, ‘You’ll have a job for life there’. I never realised how true those words would be.”

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