‘You Can’t Sit Back, You’ve Got to Keep Going’: 96-Year-Old Sawmill Worker Has No Plans to Retire After 82 Years

‘You Can’t Sit Back, You’ve Got to Keep Going’: 96-Year-Old Sawmill Worker Has No Plans to Retire After 82 Years

After a career spanning 86 years, Britain’s oldest worker says he has no plans to retire.

Bill Parton, 96, is still clocking in five days a week at the sawmill business he founded 42 years ago.

The great-grandad, who left school unable to read or write, started as a plumber’s apprentice in 1942, aged 14, during World War 2.


During and after the war, Mr. Parton helped work on turning aerodromes into temporary accommodations for troops and displaced citizens returning home.

“After the war, I was working on aerodromes on the airfields,” he said. “I was putting baths and sinks into the buildings for people to live in.”

It was a bit depressing for him to see people come out of prison camps. After this, he went on to become an engineer.

In 1982, he founded Hales Sawmill with his wife, Joan Parton, whom he credits for the success of the business.

“She was the real boss,” he said. “She had the brains, she always knew what we were doing.

“She built us a great name. It’s easy to get a bad name, it’s hard to get a good one and keep it for all these years.”


When they started, there were just two employees, but now there are over 60 staff working at two sites.

Mr. Parton, who recently turned 96, is now mainly bound to the office but is no stranger to getting his hands dirty and fixing tools on the factory floor when required.

Sharing more about his day, Mr. Parton said he usually comes in to work at 9 a.m. and doesn’t finish up until 5 p.m. He’s always sure to walk around the workplace to see how the machines are doing.

“I can tell if something’s wrong with a machine even from a squeak—I can hear it above all the noise,” he said. “I can see everything that’s going on.”

He still works five days a week—having only dropped his sixth day 12 months ago—and has never missed a week’s work in his life.

“I have never stopped since 1942, I’ve never missed a week’s work in all my life,” he said. “I did have a hip operation that laid me off for a couple of days though. ”

The sprightly nonagenarian says there’s no real secret behind his long career beyond having a good work ethic and wanting to do something to keep his mind “active.”

Apart from being Britain’s oldest worker, Mr. Parton says he’s one of the country’s oldest bosses and is proud of the company he built from scratch.

After working for eight decades, the great-grandfather has no plans to slow down and has vowed to continue working until he dies.

“You can’t sit back, you’ve got to keep going. You’ve got to keep your mind moving. The trick is to not stop. Keep working,” he said. “I used to be the gaffer, now I’m really the ‘go-fer’—you’ve got to let the kids have a go.”

Currently, three of his grandchildren are at the helm of Hales Sawmill in Market Drayton, Shropshire, but that hasn’t stopped the venerable entrepreneur from pitching in at the firm he set up in 1982.

He admits that his son and grandchildren are running it quite efficiently.

“It’s wonderful to see it pass through to the third generation,” he said.

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(Video Credit: Newsflare)
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