A Washington man is commemorating half a century of his bingo calling career as he admits he has “no plans” of retiring any time soon.

Billy Ritchey, 68, from Houghton Le-Spring, began his coveted bingo calling career in 1973 working at Empire Bingo.

Now, Billy is celebrating reaching a bullseye 50 years in his much-loved career, but admits he feels “no different” at this momentous milestone.

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“I feel no different, it’s just my every day job. I don’t want to give up yet, I just want to carry on, and carry on until I drop.”

Billy told the Echo he knew he wanted to work in the bingo industry from a young age, as

“My mam used to take me to the prize bingo, the old bottle top bingo when I was young, about 12 or 13.

“Then, when I was 18, a job came up at the Empire Bingo in Houghton Le-Spring. I got the job straight away and never looked back.”

Billy’s incredible career has seen him call numbers across the North East from Seaham to Silksworth, leading him to settle at Buzz Bingo in Washington from 1994.

The Northern Echo: Billy affirmed he has absolutely no plans of retiring.Billy affirmed he has absolutely no plans of retiring. (Image: BUZZ BINGO)

Despite such a long tenure in the industry, Billy told The Northern Echo that he still enjoys going to work every day.

He said: “I just love mixing with people, having conversations and getting to know them.

“As the years went on, Bingo has just got more interesting. When we opened the Gala bingo in 1994 there were 1,700 people in every session.”

It’s not just in the UK where Billy is recognised for his work, as he admitted he’s even spotted whilst on holiday.

“When I was on holiday in Benidorm just walking down the street, I’d hear ‘Billy! Billy! Come and have a drink!’” he laughed.

“When you’re well liked, customers acknowledge you. When they tell you their stories and you tell them your stories, they like you.”

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Now, as Billy celebrates this anniversary, he thanked Debbie Pearson from Buzz Bingo and the whole Team at Washington for supporting him.

Billy also affirmed he still has many games of bingo left in him and has no plans of putting down his microphone any time soon.

He said: “I’m just going to keep going and keep going, until one day I’ll get up and say ‘That’s it!’”