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Tommy's legacy after five decades on the job

Close to 50 years ago to the day, 'Tommy' packed his lunchbox, tied up his boots, put on his hi-vis and headed off to his first job.

Today will mark the end of a 47-year career for Tom Johnston as he prepares to work his last shift at Dinmore brick factory Claypave.

He's seen plenty change in the past five decades but his work ethic is as strong when he started on his first day as a 19-year-old in 1971.

Known around the factory as 'Tommy', Mr Johnston started his working life as a truck driver, before working his way up the ranks to dispatch supervisor.

"It was called Rolance at first and when I first came here in 1986 they were using wheelbarrows to load the kilns and that was a lot of hard work and only for the young ones. I never did that, I was always just on the trucks," he said.

"Now I organised the loads to go on the trucks and tell the trucks where to go."

Tommy Johnston is retiring after 47 years at Claypave.
Tommy Johnston is retiring after 47 years at Claypave. Rob Williams

He said he had seen plenty of faces come and go from the factory gates over the past 47 years, but none had lasted as long as he had.

"They're all gone now the old ones, I'm the oldest one left here now. They're all new faces, the older ones have passed on," he said.

Mr Johnston 'only has little boots' but his family anticipate his colleagues who will take over his role will have big shoes to fill.

"Where I'm off to know I don't know. I'll find something to do," he said.

"It will take a bit of adjusting to get used to the change.

"Keep your attendance up and you'll have a job, it's that easy."

Mr Johnston, a keen fisherman, said the time had come to dedicate more time to his grandchildren and teach them to fish.

"I decided it's time to spend some time with the family. I've been here long enough and it's time to get out," he said.

Pop's motto is one to live by

Tommy Johnston is retiring after 47 at Claypave. Hey will be spending more time with his grandkids Tayli, Ayla and Zade Siebenhausen
Tommy Johnston is retiring after 47 at Claypave. Hey will be spending more time with his grandkids Tayli, Ayla and Zade Siebenhausen Rob Williams

CLAYPAVE is part of the Johnston family.

Tom Johnston's daughters Mandii and Kym have grown up with Claypave in their family, recalling their Dad turning up to work everyday for the past 47 years.

Mandii Johnston said her Dad had taught her and her own family valuable life lessons about work ethic, determination and commitment. "Claypave has always been a constant in our lives and now my childrens' lives. We always knew where to find Dad, if he wasn't at home, he was at work," Ms Johnston said.

"He's put in a lot of time here and we've seen it change over the years. We're saying goodbye to an era of all our lives not just Dad's.

"He's seen a lot of people come in and out of the gates, and people who have survived on the belts. Dad always said if you can survive two years on the belts, you have a permanent position. It's a hard job."

Ms Johnston said her Dad's motto was 'don't have a day off unless you really have to, don't be late and appreciate what you do in a days work'.

"It's definitely a part of Dad, we know him as 'Dad who works at Claypave' and every day for 47 years he got up and went to work and he hasn't complained," she said.

Topics:  claypave ipswich business retirement work history


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