A redundant SSI worker has swapped the steel mill for the shop floor with a new business in Hartlepool.
Fifty-five-year-old Billy Boddy and wife Deborah have opened MG Wardrobe in the In Shops section of the town’s Middleton Grange shopping centre, selling a range of designer clothing.
The couple moved to Hartlepool shortly before the news emerged that the Redcar plant was to close with the loss of more than 1,100 late last year, in order to be closer to new granddaughter Lucia.
“I am from Middlesbrough originally, but we moved to Hartelpool before I got made redundant,” said Billy.
“My son lives here and we have a granddaughter now - we just wanted to be able to look after her for a couple of days a week.”
Although there had been doubts over the long-term future of the SSI plant for a while, the end came surprisingly quickly: “It came out of the blue, really, we didn’t know much about it.
I was not getting anywhere, so I just thought I would look into it. SSI were giving out grants , and I just thought ‘Why not got for it?’.Billy Boddy
“There had been rumours knocking about for the last six months but it happened really quickly,” said Billy.
Faced with looking for a new job, Billy decided on a complete change of direction - clothing retail.
“I have got no experience at all, its is just something I thought about doing,” he said.
“I was not getting anywhere, so I just thought I would look into it. SSI were giving out grants , and I just thought ‘Why not got for it?’.
“It is mostly women’s fashion but we also have men’s t-shirts and a little bit of children’s wear.
“We are getting more and more people coming in and I think it is going to take a couple of months before everybody knows we are here,” said Billy.
“We have been out and about leafletting around the centre. We have had a few people returning already - they are happy with what they have bought and they are coming back for more.”