Hartlepool cobbler celebrates 30 years in business - and tells how he battled back from ill health to keep offering a First Class service

A Hartlepool business is celebrating 30 years of ‘first class’ service.

Thursday, 25th April 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 25th April 2019, 1:25 pm
Richard Neville (left) and Bill Reid celebrate First Class turning 30.

First Class key cutting and shoe repair business was started by Bill Reid in 1989 in Middleton Grange shopping centre and is still going strong.

Bill, 64, decided to start his own business after losing his job with a national firm doing the same service.

Bill Reid shortly after launching First Class in Middleton Grange shopping centre.

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He was originally based in the old Fine Fare and Gateway supermarkets and later Asda in the shopping centre.

He moved to his current location near Specsavers when Asda moved to Marina Way in the mid 1990s.

Bill said: “It has gone unbelievably quickly, the blink of an eye.

“Serving the people of Hartlepool for 30 years has been a pleasure.

“We have got some lovely people in this town. I have got some customers who have come to me for those 30 years who are in their 70s and 80s now.”
He said the greatest pleasure he gets is from engraving personal items of jewellery for customers.

Last year, Bill suffered a heart attack when wife Jacqueline rushed him to hospital.

He was operated on but was back at work on light duties just two weeks later.

Bill is joined in the business by Richard Neville, who has overcome his own health battles after suffering a brain tumour.

He and Bill worked together 40 years ago and joined First Class when a vacancy arose earlier this year.

Mark Rycraft, Middleton Grange Shopping Centre manager, congratulated Bill for reaching the brilliant milestone.

He said: “Bill has been here since day one and its success shows no sign of slowing down.

“The team are always so welcoming and have customers returning time and again to use their very reliable services.

“Running a business for 30 years is no mean feat and First Class has played a big part in helping Middleton Grange be a great place for shoppers to visit.

“Congratulations and here’s to continued success at the shopping centre.”