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Pair put feet up after 100 years of service

Walsall | Business | Published:

Two friends who have worked at the same firm since they were 15 are both retiring 50 years on.

Sue Johnson and Elizabeth Horbik celebrating their retirement after a combined 100 years of service

Sue Johnson and Elizabeth Horbik, both 65, have been working for Walsall Security Printers since they were teenagers, putting in a combined 100 years and have seen plenty of changes in their time at the company.

The pair first started their working lives at Walsall Lithographics on £5.10 a week, before making the transition to Walsall Security Printers as the needs of the business changed.

“When we first started there was no machinery, we had to do lots of stuff by hand”, said Elizabeth, known as Beth.

“It’s been a smashing company to work for. I met my first and second husband working here.”

The machines will go silent at midday for staff to celebrate the occasion and also say a fond farewell to Sue, who is also celebrating her retirement.

She said: “I’ll be glad when its over. They’ve put a nice spread on today for me and Beth, but the idea of making a speech at the end is a bit daunting.

“My husband is a bit jealous of me retiring as he’ll still have to get up for work. It just comes to a point when you realise you’ve got to start having a bit of time for yourself.

“I’ll miss the people I work with because you see them more than you do your own family and so you become friends with them. I’ve made a lot of friends here over the years. I won’t miss getting up at quarter to six.”

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Sue said: “We’ve been crying all morning, and to be honest I’ve been a bit tearful for months when I’ve thought about leaving.”

The pair have had the privilege of meeting a number of special guests over the years.

Margaret Thatcher paid a visit during her time as Prime Minister while the King of Tonga was greeted by a factory decorated with palm trees and plants donated by the botanical gardens on his visit in the early 1970’s.

He was a big chap”, said Sue, “so we had to make him a special chair so he could move around the factory easily.”

The most memorable visit for Sue, however, came in 2014 when the Queen came to visit to open up the companies new venture.

“I was personally introduced to her, because I had worked there a long time. I think it’s probably the highlight of my time with the company.”

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