Warwickshire firm lays claim to Britain’s longest serving employee

Monica Evans - Britain's longest-serving employee

An accounts clerk at a Warwickshire engineering business has entered the record books by becoming Britain’s longest-serving employee.

Retirement has never been an option for book-keeper Monica Evans, who is about to celebrate a record-breaking 70 years with Kigass in Leamington Spa.

Monica, now 89, first joined the firm in April 1947 and 70 years on she is still balancing the books three days a week.

Her career exceeds that of the Queen’s reign, who recognised the unique performance when she wrote to the aerospace company acknowledging Monica’s long service.

Kigass has written to the Guinness Book of Records which is verifying her status as the UK’s longest serving employee, previously believed to be held by 79-year-old postman Hamish Menzies, who had worked 64 years.

No slave to technology, Monica still adopts the traditional approach to double-entry book keeping by writing everything down in a ledger. However, in a nod to the modern world she does send out digital invoice payment to suppliers.

Fastidious in her approach, she once kept her five-strong team after hours because the books were in deficit to the tune of two pence.

“No one was allowed to go home until we had found out what had happened – it sounds silly, by today’s standards, but you have to be able to balance the books if you want to run a successful business,” said Monica, whose career spans four generations at the family-owned business.

“I love working for Kigass – it has been my life and will continue to be important to me. When I started work, there were six members of staff working (here).

“In those days, I was employed on the switchboard sometimes and the owner, Charlie, would call down to me when he had an issue on his mind and say – ‘Get me the Prime Minister’. He was a wonderfully eccentric boss.”

Several moves later, the business now employs more than 70 staff, a quarter of whom have given more than 20 years’ service to the firm.

Some have even completed more than 40 years – a major achievement until compared to Monica’s effort.

Apart from the acknowledgement from the Queen, Monica also received a congratulatory letter from Work & Pensions Secretary, Damien Green.

He said: “Your employers have informed me of how much they appreciate the marvellous contribution you have made during your many years of work, and that you are a deeply valued and truly respected member of staff. Your commitment and loyalty should be an inspiration to us all as you demonstrate the wealth of skills and experience that older workers can bring to the workplace.”

Next in line to the long-service title is machine turner Peter Crane, who will notch up his half century in September.

Collectively, 19 Kigass workers have notched up a staggering 616 years of loyal service.

“All these years later when the business has grown, it still has that feeling of being part of the family and being looked after,” added Monica.

Joanne Wardman-Smith, the great grand-daughter of the firm’s founder, Charlie Wardman and a main board director for Kigass Aero Components, said:  “Monica is an important part of Kigass and represents what the business is all about – family values and great staff. She has been with us through good times and bad.

“She worked for my great grandfather, my grandfather, my father and now me – we are privileged to have her.

“I often take her out for lunch for a catch up, but when she returns to her desk she insists on working the extra time to catch up her hours – she is that sort of dedicated person who goes beyond the call of duty and has done all of her life.

“We have talked about retirement, but there are no immediate plans as far as Monica is concerned. She is an amazing and adventurous woman who, only four years ago, flew to Australia on her own to see relatives.”