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Foreman Brian Saunders reaches 50 years at Jeckells the Sailmakers

PUBLISHED: 14:40 13 April 2018 | UPDATED: 14:40 13 April 2018

Jeckells sailmakers at Wroxham.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Jeckells sailmakers at Wroxham. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2015

When Brian Saunders first started work at Jeckells the Sailmakers man was yet to set foot on the moon.

Brian Saunders has reached his 50th anniversary at Jeckells the Sailmakers. Picture: Jeckells the SailmakersBrian Saunders has reached his 50th anniversary at Jeckells the Sailmakers. Picture: Jeckells the Sailmakers

Now, after rising up through the ranks to take on the role of factory foreman at the Wroxham-based family firm, he has celebrated a half-century with the company.

He began his career as a fresh-faced 15-year-old on April 8 1968 when Cecil Jeckells, the grandfather of current managing director Chris Jeckells, was at the helm.

Mr Saunders has seen considerable change what is a traditional industry and renowned by colleagues for his sailmaking and rigging skills, as well as a dry sense of humour.

Mr Saunders said: “I have seen many changes in my 50 years with Jeckells.

“When I started work back in 1968 there was a lot more hand work necessary. Nowadays we have computers and machinery.

“I started as a storeman when Cecil Jeckells was the boss, then went on to rigging and eventually sailmaking.”

As well as its traditional industry the company also works on projects outside of the marine sector and Mr Saunders has helped develop shade handling systems for pubs as well as working with orchestras and florists.

He said: “I have been involved in many, varied, jobs over the years from making hand finished sails for a 75 foot gaff-rigged traditional barge to installing some acoustic barriers for the Halle Orchestra in Manchester in a disused church. You needed a head for heights for the latter, as it entailed building and climbing scaffolding.

“One of the more enjoyable jobs I have recently been involved with was the design and build of the roof for the Royal Horticultural Society stand at the Chelsea Flower Show.”

Mr Saunders met his wife Sherrey at Jeckells in the 1970s and they now have two children and four grandchildren.

Outside of work he enjoys spending time with his family and playing lawn bowls and darts.

Jeckells itself is now more than 180 years old having been founded in 1832 to service the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft fishing fleets.

In the 1900s it moved to the Broads as pleasure sailing began to overtake the declining fishing industry.

The company is now run by the eight generation of the family.

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