Avril hailed as UK’s longest-serving PA

Avril Dibbens
Avril Dibbens

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A FAREHAM woman is celebrating being the longest serving PA in the country.

Avril Dibbens joined the Admiralty Surface Weapons Establishment two weeks in 1982 after her 15th birthday as a shorthand typist.

Now, 51 year later, Mrs Dibbens is the longest-serving Ministry of Defence civil servant and Britain’s longest serving PA.

Mrs Dibbens, 66, has spent most of her career in Fareham including a long spell in Portsdown Main building, but has been based at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s (Dstl) site at Porton Down, since 2005.

Throughout her career, Avril has worked with senior members of the MoD’s leadership across a number of organisations, including spells in London, Portsmouth, Malvern and Farnborough.

She said: ‘I would have thought in this day and age that someone might have done about 55 years or so.

‘I was staggered. I’m really delighted.’

And she said there are some tips to being a good PA.

‘You have got to be loyal, discreet and you have got to be conscientious,’ she said.

‘You have to forget about the nine to five routine as there are occasions when you have to work longer.

‘You have got to think in advance, prepare papers for meetings. It’s a case of being reactive.

‘You have got to make sure that everything is ready when it needs to be ready.’

In 1972, Mrs Dibbens was crowned national typing champion, typing 93 words per minute for 30 minutes, coming first for accuracy.

To celebrate her achievement, Avril is off to London today where she will receive a special award.