Karen Pearson (nee Wignall) poignantly recalls her time at BU – She is pictured here at her leaving do in 1984 – leaving to have a baby!
“My dad worked at the BU so my early memories of the BU were going to the sports days at the BU Sports ground in Mowmacre Hill. Also attending the Christmas parties and receiving an apple and an orange from Santa. This photo is from 1961 and the BU sports day – Karen wearing a hat behind her brother.
“I started work in 1974 at the age of 16 on a 12 week training scheme along with quite a few other people. We worked for four weeks in three different departments, I worked in the drawing office for Jack Moulds. I loved working there because it meant using the paternoster lift which was such good fun. I then went into the Research Dept. working for Eric Pearson. I didn’t make it into the third training department because I was offered a permanent position in the Export Department working for David Holmes as an export clerk.
“My early memories of the BU were of how big the place was and how many people worked there. We had our own doctor and nurses in the medical centre, and our own dentist. I even remember we had a bank on site. I loved the third floor with its cushioned flooring, this was to stop anyone disturbing the Directors. We had so many canteens; mens, ladies, works and the Directors. I remember the wonderful trolley services we had each morning and afternoon, fresh filled rolls etc. in the morning, and cream cakes in the afternoon.
“I worked at the BU for 10 years, I got engaged in 1976 and married in 1977. I never actually changed jobs, but things progressed and changed along the way. My last job before leaving was as a Secretary working for Jim Smith. I left in 1984 when I was pregnant. I didn’t return after my baby was born but worked at some other places before having my second child in 1986. In approx. 1992 I saw a job advertised part time at the BU working in Regent Rebuilds for Alan Godwin. I got the job and my love affair with the BU started again. I moved from Regent Rebuilds and started working for David Evans in the Lasting Department as a Secretary. This has to be my most favourite job – I did all the secretarial work for the whole department, arranging travel for the technicians, typing reports, arranging buffets for the meetings, absolutely anything and loved it.
“That all came to an end I believe when APAX took over. The Secretaries in each Department were put together in a customer service environment. We all hated it – that was almost the worst period of my life at the BU.
“Then things got even worse in 2000 when the company got into difficulty and the Receivers were called in, I remember that day so clearly – a group of people in black suits came in and told everyone to stop what they were doing. A while later people were tapped on the shoulder and sent to different rooms. I was in a room with approx. 30 people and we were told our jobs were safe. There was a room of approx.500 people who were all told that they were redundant !! All day people were leaving – it was a very sad day with lots of tears.
“The small group that were eventually left had to work for the Receivers for a while, then four Directors bought the company back and we started again. We eventually moved to brand new premises in Enderby. A few years later the company started failing again and we moved to very small premises in Whetstone, until eventually in 2006, the Administrators came in. Again we had no knowledge of it happening, more people in black suits. I was called up first and told that when people’s names were called out I had to take their mobile phones, laptops, car keys and any other BU possessions off them. They were then sent off the premises. A very small number of us were kept on to wind the company down. I think I was probably one of about six people that were there until the very end. We packed all the tools and equipment up into massive crates and that was that. The End of an Era.”