Accountant, 89, retires after 75-year career

September 7, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

Hard working Betty Ham put her feet up for the first time today after retiring aged 89 – following a 75-year working career without a single day off sick.

Dedicated Betty started work as an office junior aged 14 and went on to become a qualified accountant.

She worked at the same firm for four decades until she was forced to step down at 60 but then immediately joined another firm.

The tireless pensioner then worked for a further 29 years until retiring this week – and treated herself with a lie-in until 8am.

She said: ”I was just taught from a very early age to go out and get a job and earn a living.

”It was the way we were expected to be. I never stopped work, and I have never been unemployed, and I have never had a day off with illness.

”The secret is just eating proper food and taking care of yourself, and not going mad and staying out till all hours of the night. We were not allowed to do that when we were young.”

Widow Betty, of Hengrove, Bristol, began working as an office junior at Holdfast Bootmaker’s in nearby Kingswood when she was just 14.

She continued to attend night school to gain further qualifications before moving to a job doing admin work for an accountant in the city centre.

The great-grandmother-of-four spent five years there and her employer taught her the basics of finance while she took more night classes to qualify as an accountant herself.

She went on to work for firm Grant Thornton in the city, where she stayed for almost four decades.

Betty was forced to take compulsory retirement at 60 but decided to carry on working elsewhere because her husband Arthur worked nights at the nearby Rolls Royce factory and slept at home during the days.

She added: ”I went to Grant Thornton when I was 21 but when I retired I decided I didn’t want to stay home because Arthur worked nights at Rolls Royce.

”So it suited me to go out and work so he could sleep at home during the day. I preferred working anyways.

”But I had to retire from the big firm because everybody has to at a certain age, whether they want to or not.

”So I just had a look around and tried to find out places where I could get a job and I managed to get one and that’s what I’ve done since.”

Betty got a job Bristol’s family-run chartered accountancy firm Tyrrells where she remained until retiring this week, diligently filling out VAT returns for companies across the city.

After Arthur passed away 20 years ago, Betty continued to work for ”something to do.”

Up until the ripe old age of 89 she left home at 7am to catch two buses across town for an 8am arrival at the office.

She retired this week, and spent her first day having a lie-in until 8am before heading into the city – on the bus – to do some celebratory shopping.

She added: ”This is my first day of retirement. I should be glad to go out.

”But if I am really honest I think I am going to miss going into work every day.

”I only worked one day a week in the end, for about a couple of years. I was still doing accounts, the same as I’ve always done.

”But I am not as good on my feet as I used to be and it was getting harder for me to get into work. I still enjoyed the work, and going into the office, and I’m going to miss working terribly.

”I’ve got a big garden, and I expect I’ll spend some more time out there now. And I expect I’ll give my house a good clean from top to bottom.”

Margaret Mills, who worked with Betty at Tyrrells, said: ”Betty is a lovely woman and her devotion to work was incredible.

”Even when she hurt her leg she still came into work on crutches. She used to come in every morning even when we had snow last winter.

”She is an incredible woman and we are all going to miss her.”

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