Robert retires after 48 years at Cannock garage
Just under 50 years since he started working at a small garage in Cannock Chase, one 'pillar of society' has stepped down.
Robert Southall began working at Perkins Brothers Garage on Hednesford Road, Heath Hayes, in 1971.
By 1983, Robert and his wife Kate bought the business and ran the garage and adjoining bicycle shop together and after working there for 48 years and owning it since the early 80s, Robert has finally decided to retire.
For five years the 68-year-old has been working part-time at the business after handing it over to his grandson Adam Smith and now the time has come to give it all up.
Robert said: "I decided that after we broke up for Christmas that it was the best time for me to retire.
"I've technically been working for my grandson for five years now, on a part-time basis, after I gave him the business.
"I felt the time was right, it was getting too technical for me, with the new vehicles coming through and working on them.
"When we bought the business from Mr Perkins, we paid around £22,000 and my wife ran the cycle shop while I ran the garage.
"Nowadays we lease the cycle shop building out and its a vape shop, it's a bit modern for me.
"This business is a very old and well-known one in the area. It started in the 1930s in a different location when they had petrol pumps in the street and ran a lorry business, it's quite historic."
Now, 30-year-old Adam will run the business without the help of his experienced grandfather, but Robert has no worries over the business's future success.
"The business is in good hands now, Adam is very clever," he said.
"He was a top student in motor vehicle technology at Stafford College and he didn't know what to do after, so I took him on here.
"He's even got his own youngster from the college that he's taken on himself.
"The business will carry on. We need to move with the times, petrol engines will eventually die out as electric vehicles come in.
"There are also not many small garages around anymore, so it's important for us to carry on.
"If Mr Perkins could see that my grandson had taken over the business he would be over the moon, he was a right character."
Robert's wife, Kate, 77, said: "I'm very proud of him, he's gone without to build the garage up.
"We've had two mortgages, he's a real grafter.
"The other day our local vicar mentioned in his sermon that 'more people should be like Robert Southall, he's a pillar of society', and that means the world to me."