DYNAMIC duo Joan Lilley and Jen Hall have said goodbye to their jobs with a difference after a combined 45 years of service.
The women, both from Hartlepool, worked at the town’s iconic tourist attraction HMS Trincomalee and had been there since the ship’s arrival in town for restoration.
Now, they have left with the ship in pristine condition and Trincomalee Trust bosses’ praise for their “selfless work” ringing in their ears.
Joan, 64, worked in hotels and hairdressers before spotting an advertisement for a job with a difference in 1991.
She applied, got the job, and admitted: “It has been a rollercoaster and I would do it all over again.”
The mother-of-two, grandmother-of-three and great grandmother-of-one added: “I have met Prince Philip and Prince Charles. I have gone to a Buckingham Palace garden party and that has all been because of this job.”
Joan spent 23 years as the ship’s visitor services co-ordinator and Jen, 65, was the head guide for 22 years. Jen, a mum-of-one and grandmother-of-two, had previously worked in youth service as well as in hairdressers before becoming part of the Trincomalee team.
Both women have helped transform the ship into one of the finest tourist experiences in the country.
Jen said: “It’s been a fantastic job and I have loved the whole experience.”
She selected some of the highlights of her career. “One man was visiting from Miami and said he had been talking to someone who had recommended him to come to Trincomalee because the guides were so good.
“There was another man who was visiting his son in university in the south of London and got on the train to come and see us. There are so many stories like that.”
Trust general manager David McKnight said: “There is a lot of experience which is retiring from Trincomalee. Joan and Jen have both worked at the Trust for more than 20 years and the two of them have worked long, hard and loyally for the Trust.
“Over the years, we have had countless compliments on the quality of the ship and the quality of the visitor experience and that is down to them committing the time and training the team to deliver that.”
The two women now both plan to spend their retirements enjoying walking and reading.