Caretaker is brewery's best known face

A BREWERY caretaker who with more than 10 members of his family has notched up almost 300 years working for beer giant Greene King is one of the firm's most well known faces.

A BREWERY caretaker who with more than 10 members of his family has notched up almost 300 years working for beer giant Greene King is one of the firm's most well known faces.

But Bernie Hailstone, 58, known by his colleagues as "the man that can", will park up his sack barrow and locks up his store for the last time after 40 years with the Bury St Edmunds-based company.

During that time he has also worked in the bottling hall and on the drays. He was a member of the firm's fire brigade – the now disbanded Westgate Brewery Fire Brigade – for more than 30 years and has been full time caretaker since 1990.

But his 40 years pale into insignificance beside the tally of years worked by various members of his family – a total of almost three centuries.


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His wife, Joan, 54, has notched up 25 years service as a cleaner – keeping offices neat and fresh. Her late father, Tommy Hammond, worked for Greene King for 51 years as an electrician.

Mr Hailstone's brother, Douglas, now 75, was on the drays for most of his 47 years with the company and also served with the fire service.

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His sister, Mary Skates, is now retired but worked for 12 years in the bottling plant and her husband, Billy, was on the pay roll for 50 years. Both Mr Hailstone's sons, Darren and Wayne, spent around a year between them at the brewery during their early part of their careers.

Mr Hailstone's cousin, David Saddler, has notched up 30 years as an electrician, another cousin, John Pettitt, has worked for the brewery for 35 years and his second cousin Ollie Smith worked there for around six years.

There are several other family members who either are or have worked for Greene King and Mr Hailstone, who along with his wife was yesterday presented with a long service award, said the brewery had done the clan proud.

He said: "I have some very strong feelings for the company – I think it's a very good firm and it would be very sad for Bury if anything happened to it. I hope it carries on here providing jobs for the local community."

Mr Hailstone said he had decided to take early retirement - he finishes work next week - to concentrate on his hobbies of gardening and collecting fire service memorabilia.

But he said he would miss his work at the brewery: "I've become well known for being the 'man that can'. If something needs sorting I can usually help or know someone who can. I have enjoyed my time here – I wouldn't have spent 40 years with Greene King if I hadn't."

His wife, however, is planning to stay on for a while – pushing the family total of years worked ever higher.

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