Fifty years and counting, but Ivan has no plans to hang up his overalls

Ivan Fitch celebrating 50 years at Gainsborough Silk Mill ANL-150630-141516009

Ivan Fitch celebrating 50 years at Gainsborough Silk Mill ANL-150630-141516009

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An ‘invaluable’ maintenance engineer celebrated 50 years of service at The Gainsborough Silk Weaving Co in Sudbury this week with a special cake.

Ivan Fitch started working at the mill in 1965, taking on a weaving apprenticeship. Since 1972 he has been a maintenance engineer but still uses his weaving skills.

The 68-year-old said: “I enjoy the challenge. Each day brings something different.”

Providing fine silks for customers across the world, including reproducing classic designs, some of the machinery dates back to 1926 .

The grandfather of four who lives Great Cornard, is now semi-retired, working three days a week, but said he had no plans to fully hang up his tools.

“I just like coming in, it keeps me going,” he said. “If you stop completely its a bit of a wrench winding down.”

Neil Thomas, director at the mill, said: “I have known Ivan for 26 years and he has always been one of the most popular staff members.

“He has probably forgotten more than most people know about Jacquard weaving and his skills have enabled Gainsborough to furnish some of the most important and beautiful properties in the world. His knowledge of each piece of machinery has been invaluable, as many of the parts are no longer available Ivan has to make repairs himself.

“After 50 years Ivan is and will remain one of our most valued employees.”