A GAS engineer, who started working at Catterick Garrison in 1969, has "no plans to retire" as he marks his 50th year working at the base.

Graham Firby, 66,who began as a general maintenance apprentice, has remained a worker at the site in North Yorkshire for the past five decades.

Mr Firby, who originally started work with the Ministry of Defence, was looking for a role at the base while studying at school.

But following a lack of "further qualifications" upon leaving, he was told he must attain a BTEC equivalent qualification at college to begin employment.

He said: “The Ministry of Defence wouldn’t have me without further qualifications so I applied to Darlington College to study the equivalent of a BTEC.

"One day the headmaster came to see me and said the college wanted me to attend an interview immediately – I got on the bus, sat a test and passed the interview and started more or less straight away.”

"I’ve now been here five decades and loved every minute of serving for Queen and Country."

Mr Firby, who now works at the base as a lead mechanical gas engineer, but under the Northallerton-based construction firm, Tom Willoughby, has worked under various contractors after the Ministry of Defence outsourced some of the base's operations.

He said: “I really enjoyed the machine-shop work, particularly the maintenance and repair of small arms, so I started working in that area. Since then I’ve worked in different areas of work and on different sites on Catterick Garrison. I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years – I remember when I started we had a station and train links to the rest of the region and beyond."

“I’ve been with Willoughby’s a few years now and love working for the company – I have a great team here and have no plans to retire."

To celebrate this milestone, firm bosses arranged a presentation, attended by members of the firm and service personnel.

Joanne Sinnott, operations manager at Tom Willoughby, said: "Graham has been fantastic and I’m pleased to hear he has no plans to retire.

"He is a highly respected Commercial Gas Engineer, and his wealth of knowledge of the different heating systems across the Garrison is immense.

"He’s admired and respected by those who work for him, and alongside him, and the loyalty he’s shown to Catterick has been amazing.”