Crewsaver Senior Welding Technician, Harry Gordon, has entered his 50th year at the UK’s leading marine safety equipment manufacturer this week.
Harry, 64, from Stubbington in Hampshire, joined the company straight from school in 1964 when he was 15. He has worked in a range of roles at Crewsaver and in recent years has specialised in machining marker buoy covers and conducting rigorous tests on the company’s state of the art lifejackets. “When I was 15 my dad took me down for my first meeting with my boss to see if my feet would reach the pedals on the welding machines, and they did…just,” Harry said. Crewsaver was founded in Gosport in 1957 where it has gone from strength to strength, moving into new purpose-built premises on Lederle Lane last year. Over the years Harry has witnessed major developments in lifejackets and safety equipment. He admits that the products that Crewsaver manufactures today have little in common with those that they produced when he joined five decades ago.
“Things have changed dramatically since I started in 1964. We used to cut all the lifejackets out of foam with a handsaw and now we use the latest technology,” Harry said.
One of Harry’s career highlights at Crewsaver was producing 294 heavy-duty marker buoy covers for the sailing and triathlon events at the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games. However, last year’s Olympic Games were not the first time that Harry’s work had appeared on the global stage as he also made 18 giant marker buoys for the men’s and women’s triathlon at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. For the father of two, another memorable moment was delivering a giant bright yellow marker buoy that he has produced for the Royal Thames Yacht Club to the Camper & Nicholsons boat yard. “It was so big that I had to take it outside to inflate it. We did it in the evening and, as there wasn’t much traffic about, I rolled it down Mumby Road to the yard. It looked just like a clip from the Prisoner series that used to be on the television,” he said.
Harry was born and bred in Gosport, the son of a bulldozer driver who worked at a local authority waste management site for 50 years from leaving school until his retirement. “My father worked in the same job all his life too so it must run in the family,” Harry said. Rob Angel, Engineering Support Manager, has worked with Harry at Crewsaver for the last 25 years and he said his colleague will be sorely missed by the team when he retires in two months. “Harry is a real mainstay at Crewsaver, and he’s just one of many members of staff who have been with us for decades. Everybody is going to miss him when he retires in June,” Jon Crossland, General Manager said.
During his career with Crewsaver, Harry has worked at three different premises in Gosport including two locations on Mumby Road before relocating to the firm’s new site off the A32. He joined the company two years after the move from its original premises on North Cross Street in Gosport. After half a decade with Crewsaver, Harry is preparing for a well-earned retirement when he leaves the company in June. He said he hopes to stay active, catch up with some jobs around the house and do some sailing with his family. Harry took up sailing after his former boss Commander Faunce took him on sailing days in the Solent earlier in his career. “It just feels like it has gone so quickly and I’ve got so many memories here at Crewsaver. It doesn’t seem possible that I’m about to retire. It only seems like a little while ago when I still had five years to go,” Harry said.