A LONG-SERVING council employee is retiring after 46 years worth of dedicated service – and not a single day off sick.
Peter Newstead looks after cemeteries and the crematorium for Hartlepool Borough Council but the 64-year-old is to retire at the end of this month after five decades of remarkable service.
The dad-of-three has been described as a “prime example of dedication to public service”.
Peter, who is cemeteries and crematorium registrar, said he has been ill but the sick days have always fallen on weekends or during holidays so he has never had to ring in despite almost 50 years service.
He said: “It is mixed emotions as I have really enjoyed my time.
“I know most of the families in town as a result of the work I do and get on well and keep in touch with people.
“46 years is a long time and I’ve been lucky not to have a day off sick which is good because you don’t want to let people down.
“It is about putting others first.”
He said the biggest change has been the introduction of machinery to dig the graves but he said the people skills and compassion required in his sensitive role has always stayed the same.
Peter, based at Stranton, added: “I enjoy the work I do and while it can be stressful at times I try to maintain good relations with all the users of the cemetery and crematorium.
“I would like to thank the team, who work in all conditions, for the excellent service they provide. It is a difficult job but the better the team, the better the service we can offer.”
Peter started work for Hartlepool Borough Council as an 18-year-old on September 4, 1967, with the park and cemeteries deparment on grounds maintenance and he worked in Stranton Grange Cemetery when all graves were ecavated using hand tools.
In 1970, he was appointed operator of the council’s first digging machine used for excavating new graves and in 1977 became superintendent at West View Road Cemetery before being appointed cemetery and crematorium superintendent at Stranton two years later.
Peter was appointed to his current role in 1983 and he is responsible for managing the day to day running of the council’s burial and cremation service. Over the past 46 years Peter has, at some stage, worked in all parks, cemeteries and open spaces maintained by the local authority.
The dedicated employee, of Owton Manor Lane, is married to Catherine and the pair have three children Theresa Newstead-Down, David Newstead and Ann Wood and six grandchildren.
Peter, who has also worked as a film projectionist and at the docks before joing the council, is now looking forward to spending time with his family, looking after his own garden and going on holiday with his wife.
Dave Stubbs, Hartlepool Borough Council’s chief executive, said: “Peter is an extremely well respected employee and to serve the council for 46 years is a remarkable achievement.
“During his career Peter has worked in all of the town’s cemeteries and the crematorium and has always shown the utmost professionalism and dignity in helping and supporting families at a time when they need it most.
“Peter has been a fantastic ambassador for Hartlepool Council and a prime example of dedication to public service.
“I wish him a long and happy retirement.”
Richard Harlanderson, the council’s current parks development officer, will be taking over Peter’s role.