Meet the inspiring steelworker who's been hard at work for 63 years

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 16 Nov 2018

A man who has worked in the steel industry for 63 years is still inspiring his fellow employees as he approaches his 80th birthday.

British Steel employee Terry Longmate is celebrating the milestone this weekend, over half a century since he started as an apprentice.

The Scunthorpe-born father of five is still going strong and is regularly involved with the industry, despite officially retiring in 1999.

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He joined Lysaght's steelworks as an apprentice fitter and turner at the age of 17 in 1955, straight out of Scunthorpe's Technical High School.

"My first impressions of the industry were that it was big, dirty and noisy. But I knew a few of the older apprentices and it felt like I was joining a family," Terry recalled.

Terry has worked in several different roles in the steel industry

Over his long career, Terry has worked as a draughstman and in various senior engineering roles. He officially retired in 1999, but it wasn't long before he was asked to return to carry out housekeeping and safety audits.

From 2005, he lent his long expertise to the steelwork's guides team, and now shows thousands of visitors around the site each year.

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His longevity in the industry seems to be down to his enjoyment for the job.

"One of the most memorable parts of my career was being told by a manager I wasn’t here to enjoy myself, which I couldn’t understand as I really loved my job," Terry said.

"The main change is the increased use of technology, which has also meant a reduction in the number of people working in the industry, as well as the huge engineering improvements.


Terry Longmate now gives tours of the British Steel plant, using the knowledge gained over his long career(Image: British Steel)

"And of course, the health and safety, which is hugely important in the steel industry and is very important to me both at work and at home. Apart from dealing with a heart attack in 1996 and prostate cancer in 2011, I’ve enjoyed great health, which I put down to my lifestyle."

Surprisingly, steelworks wasn't his first choice of career.

"When I left school, I wanted to be a teacher as I’ve always enjoyed explaining things to people and now as a works guide, I’m able to pass on information about an industry I’ve worked in and been passionate about for more than 60 years," he said.

"I’ve never regretted making the decision to work in the steel industry and I still recommend it to others. The works have given me a good living and a very interesting career. I might be 80 this month but I still enjoy what I do here. That’s what keeps me coming back after all these years."

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Steelworks Guides Co-ordinator Ron Wilkins said: "Terry is never short of stories about his impressive career and continues to captivate our visitors with his outstanding knowledge at 80 years young.

"Our job is to enthuse visitors to our site about our exciting industry. Terry is never short of enthusiasm even after 63 years. I’m certain his passion for steelmaking is as strong now as it was in 1955 as a young apprentice.

"We thank Terry for his continued commitment to our business and our industry and we wish him many happy returns on this momentous occasion."



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