Turning in tools at last

Wiltshire Times: Motor mechanic John Pratten has retired after 42 years with Westbury Leigh garage Elkins Ford Motor mechanic John Pratten has retired after 42 years with Westbury Leigh garage Elkins Ford

A long-serving mechanic has retired after spending 42 years working in the same garage, Elkins Ford in Westbury Leigh.

John Pratten, of Charnwood Road, Trowbridge, started as a mechanic straight from school, doing his apprenticeship when he was 15 years old at Bob Harring in Union Street.

The 65-year-old also worked at a garage on Dursley Road in Trowbridge for a couple of years, before starting employment under three generations of Elkins at the garage in Westbury.

Mr Pratten, whose final day came just before Christmas, has seen a lot of developments in his time working as a mechanic and while the technological progress has been gradual, his job has changed significantly since he started.

He said: “I’ve seen some massive changes over the years. It’s been incredible to see how the industry has evolved during my time here – the technology is so advanced now.

“If there was a problem with a car years ago you would be able to use a tool or fix it manually by hand, but so much is done by computers these days that I can’t keep up.

“I think the reason I’ve been here for so long is because I’ve always enjoyed my job and I’ve never regretted being a mechanic. I’ve worked with a great bunch of lads and I’m bound to miss them when I go.

“I will miss it when I’m gone. To do something for so many years and then wake up one day and not have to do it any more is always going to be a weird feeling.”

Mr Pratten started at the garage, which was originally called Elkins and Son, in 1971 when he was hired by Stanley Elkins, the grandfather of the current managing director, Peter Elkins.

Mr Elkins said: “We have enjoyed having John as part of the team over the years and we wish him all the best in the future.

“He has worked with three generations of my family, which is quite something, and he has always been the same. He’s hard working and very reliable.

“You need people like John in business, because you need people who will keep delivering the goods time after time.”

Mr Pratten said he will spend his retirement playing golf at Frome Golf Course, where he hopes to lower his 18 handicap.

He also wants to do more bird watching and walking to keep himself fit.

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