Great Britain

Veteran Graham calls time on Chesterfield car trade after 50 years

A veteran Chesterfield car technician has finally hung up his tools – after more than 50 years.

Past and present colleagues gathered to wish Graham Ashmore a happy retirement as he leaves JCT600’s pre-delivery inspection centre in Sheepbridge.

Past and present colleagues gathered to with Graham Ashmore, front centre, a happy retirement.

Past and present colleagues gathered to with Graham Ashmore, front centre, a happy retirement.

The 69-year-old is one of the longest-serving staff members – even being treated to a trip to Volkswagen’s factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, in recognition of his service.

Stacey Laing, aged 39, JCT600 PDI centre head of business, said: “Everyone’s favourite uncle is the best way to describe him. He’ll be a big loss.”

Mr Ashmore said his career had a number of highlights, including being the first person to drive on the A61 Chesterfield bypass between Whittington Moor and Hornsbridge roundabout – leading a parade of old vehicles in a restored Porsche tractor he owned to open the new road in July 1985.

He said: "Retirement feels strange in a way – it's been a long-time.

Graham in one of his leaving presents - a technician's old white coat, bearing the name of his many employers, crossed out.

Graham in one of his leaving presents - a technician's old white coat, bearing the name of his many employers, crossed out.

“I started in 1965 with a Fiat agent on Soresby Street, Chesterfield.

“I then saw a job advertisement for Gordon Lamb – John, his son, interviewed me and took me on and I worked there, on Pottery Lane, Whittington Moor, for 10 years.

“In 1977, they built a place in Sheepbridge. We moved there and I’ve been there ever since.”

The Broombank Road site has gone through a number of names through the years, such as Merlin and Gilders, following various takeovers, but is now JCT600’s PDI centre, preparing new cars for customers.

But it is not just the name that has changed since Mr Ashmore started.

Mr Ashmore, of Laurel Crescent, Hollingwood, said: “The biggest change is technology – we have computers in the workshops now, to tell us what’s wrong.”

The father-of-three said he is looking forward to having more time to tend to his garden, as well as spending time with his cat Toffee and grandchildren Jacob, 16, and 14-year-old Amy.

He also has plans to take Jacob on holiday.

He said: “When I was younger we used to go on holiday around Devon and Cornwall. I’d like to take Jacob back down there for a good holiday and show him what I used to do when I was younger.”