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Cambs pair clock up 110 years

Two Central England Co-operative colleagues are celebrating after clocking up 110 years between them in helping families say goodbye to their loved ones.

Derek Rowlett and John Gelder toasted their long service by talking about how working for George James Funeral Service, in March, has changed over the years and – why they continue to come into work with the same passion every day.

The pair are now the longest serving colleagues at Central England Co-op, which owns George James and hundreds of other funeral homes across 16 counties.

Derek, who has worked for the company for 60 years, revealed that helping people was the reason he continues to do the job.

The 75-year-old said: “I have worked for the company for six decades and joined when it was known as George Brewin. Back then it wasn’t just a funeral director, the firm also was a house furnisher and a jewellers.

“I started worked in the shop, but very quickly moved over to the funeral side and I have not looked back since. A lot has changed over the 60 years but one thing that hasn’t is the reason why we all do this – helping people.

“I get great satisfaction from working as part of the team here and helping the families that come to us for support. This is why I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.”

Away from work, Derek likes to unwind with a game of golf.

Colleague John is celebrating five decades with the Funeral Director and has been a fixture ever since he first walked through the door straight from school in 1968.

The 65-year-old said: “It was coming near to the time I was due to leave school and I was looking for a career. I ended up getting a job in the George Brewin workshop and I have never left.

“I love the job and actually love it now more than I ever have. I get to work for a great business, work with some great people and, most importantly, get to help people in their time in need.”

Kerry Rolfe is the Funeral Director at George James Funeral Service.

She said: “Derek and John are both amazing characters that everyone loves to be around. They are always the people you turn to as they have so much experience and are always on hand with advice.

“We are so proud to be able to celebrate this historic milestone with them and look forward to them continuing to help families for years to come.”

PHOTO: Derek Rowlett (left) and John Gelder

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