Dedicated Brian steps away from Havant Sheet Metal's factory floor after 50 years hard work

TODAY marks a momentous day in one Leigh Park man’s life.

Thursday, 27th August 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 27th August 2020, 7:55 am

For Brian Grant will finally step away from the factory floor and put down his tools, retiring from his much-loved job at Havant Sheet Metal after an incredible 50 years.

When Brian started working at the factory in Downley Road, in August 1970, he was just 16 years old. Hired as an apprentice, while also studying at Highbury College, he fondly remembers his first wage packet of £7.

‘I can always remember that,’ he said. ‘I was delighted with it, and then most of it paid my mum.’

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Brian Grant

Brian was one of 15 people to apply for the job, which he says he’s loved having.

He said: ‘I enjoyed the company. I have always enjoyed working. There has been the odd time where I have thought that I’ve had enough, but I always came to work and it has been enjoyable to work here. It has been a privilege.’

Brian says he has seen lots change over the years, including three different owners - Ronald Jurd, his son Nigel Jurd, and then most recently long-term employees Paul Edwards and Paul Rabbetts, who took over the business 11 years ago.

Read More

Read More
Business boost for boiler firm as it expands its services and becomes Hampshire ...
Brian Grant, third from left in 1976

As well as changes in people, Brian says the job has also changed vastly.

‘There were no computers, or computerised machinery or anything like that back when I started,’ he said. ‘Everything had to be done by hand. I was a sheet metal worker and a welder and I think we learnt a lot more back in those days. It was hard work but it made you responsible. You really learnt the trade.’

Brian worked his way up with the company, becoming charge-hand in 1989 and then foreman in 1996. He stepped down from his role of foreman after 24 years, but he stayed working in the factory as he was determined to reach his goal of 50 years, even semi-retiring two years ago and then returning in order to make the milestone.

Brian Grant with his colleagues, joint owners- Paul Edwards and Paul Rabbetts, Tony Malloy, Barry Lidstone, Andrew Arnell, Keith Rogers and Hannah Stenning. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Over the years, Brian has bounced back from broken legs, a hip replacement, and even returned after being furloughed for three months due to coronavirus.

Sadly, Brian lost his wife and love of his life Angela two years ago. He was devastated by her death, but says work helped him cope.

Brian said: ‘I could've retired at 65 but I was only a couple of years away from my 50th year. That was my goal. I wanted to make it before I retire. Now I feel it is time to call it a day.’

Brian, who has two sons Steven, 44, and Shaun, 39, and 17 grandchildren, said he was looking forward to seeing his family more now that he has more free time, and also playing darts and socialising at Cowplain Social Club.

Brian Grant with joint owners Paul Edwards and Paul Rabbetts

TRUSTWORTHY, dedicated and reliable is how the owners of Havant Sheet Metal describe Brian Grant.

A small celebration will be held at the factory today to mark his last day in the business after 50 years.

Director Paul Rabbetts, who has worked with Brian for 33 years, said: ‘He has been fantastic. He is so reliable. He doesn’t take time off unless it is genuine. He is so trustworthy and dedicated. It has been so great to have him working here. The great thing about Brian is that he never lets you down.’

Director Paul Edwards said: ‘Brian has been a most loyal employee of the company. He is very loyal. It is very hard to find someone as dedicated as Brian these days. We wish him well in his retirement.’

ESTABLISHED in 1939, Havant Sheet Metal has been making sheet metal components for a range of industries from its factory in Downley Road for 81 years.

The firm was set up by Ronald Jurd, who passed it down to his son Nigel Jurd. In 2009, long term employees Paul Edwards and Paul Rabbetts took over the business.

Brian Grant Picture: Habibur Rahman

Today, it employs 40 people and undertakes fabrication, machining, finishing, and design work. Its parts have been used in medical equipment, aircraft, audio equipment, and by the defence industry.

It recently invested in a high-tech Trumpf TruLaser 1030 cutting machine to give it more capacity and improved performance.

The team has also been working hard to combat the negative business effects of Covid-19.

Director Paul Rabbetts said: ‘The whole team really stepped up and worked so hard, it surprised us. We are hopeful for the future.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

Thank you for reading this story. The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on our advertisers and thus our revenues.

The News is more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism.

You can subscribe here for unlimited access to Portsmouth news and information online. Every subscription helps us continue providing trusted, local journalism and campaign on your behalf for our city.