Worker celebrates 65 years in same job

AFTER a lifetime of work ask anyone what they are most looking forward too and you can bet retirement is close to top of the list.But try telling that to 79-year-old Brian Vyse.

Anthony Bond

AFTER a lifetime of work ask anyone what they are most looking forward too and you can bet retirement is close to top of the list.

But try telling that to 79-year-old Brian Vyse.

YesterdayMr Vyse, who lives in Ipswich with his wife Edith, celebrated 65 years working at the popular family-run Ipswich store Coes. And he has not lost of any of his enthusiasm for the job.

“It is just nice to see a satisfied customer go out of the store but most of all it is nice when they shake your hand and say thank you very much for your help and service. That makes it all the worthwhile.”

Mr Vyse joined Coe's in 1943 at the age of 14 after his head teacher at Westbourne Secondary Modern School told him that a position had become available at the store - which then had two small shops beside each other and just five employers.

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But becoming a member of staff during World War Two obviously meant things were slightly different at Coes then.

“If the siren went we had an area in the cellar which was built up with 15 inch oak beams and if needs be customers could come into the store and make themselves safe. We never closed once and we were always open.”

As Mr Vyse worked his way up - eventually becoming the manager of the boys department and school wear - he found himself serving many a famous face, including legendary Rolling Stones rocker Bill Wyman and tap-dancer Lionel Blair.

“Bill Wyman came in and was just like a normal customer and we fitted him up and everybody in the store was just staring around the corner. Lionel Blair organised an event and he actually got a dance routine going in the suit department.”

Over the years Mr Vyse has seen many fashions come and go.

“There are still the smart people who want a nice sports jacket and trousers and shirt and tie to go with it but there is also the business man who still requires a suit. There is also the casual wear side which lots of people go for today - particularly the young people.”

But he is not happy with every aspect of today's fashions. “We keep jeans in the shop which I would throw in the bin because they have holes in them and are worn but somebody comes in and ends up buying them. It is incredible but that is the way that some people want to dress.”

Mr Vyse, who now works two days a week at the shop, admits that his full retirement may soon come. But there is still plenty of energy left.

“I have had every opportunity of retiring if I want too but I am a very active man. Lots of customers say to me “are you still here Brian?” and I say “I am still standing up. It is when I am laying down that I want too worry.”

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