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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Evergreen Cumbrian Harry still delivers meat at the tender age of 81

MEET Harry, Carlisle’s oldest meat delivery driver – probably!

Sixty-one years after Harry Brown took on a part-time job at Pioneer, he can still be found in the kitchens and delivery bays of hotels and restaurants across Cumbria.

“My father was a farmer,” the 81-year-old recalled, “and I did a milk round in the morning. I came across the manager at the time, and he said he needed someone to deliver in the afternoons.

“We had one van, and I shared the driving with Andrew Jenkins – the fourth generation of the family which runs the business.”

The ‘part-time’ job rapidly grew, and Harry was part of the firm’s expansion which saw its fleet increase steadily to more than 50 vans today.

Now a director of the firm, his role within Pioneer has been pivotal.

Harry explained: “When I started we had one van going around Carlisle, and I expanded it into the Lakes, taking a van to sell meat from. We then got another van, and another, and it took off.”

His role today is a little less involved, but if there is a problem there is only man to call.

“I deliver replacements if there has been a mistake,” he said. “If you’ve got fillet steak instead of sirloin, and it says sirloin on the menu then it’s a problem and I fix it and deliver the right meat.

“There are some hoteliers where I am dealing with the third generation of families, because I have been delivering to them for so long.”

Unmarried – but still available, Harry insisted – he has only recently stopped helping out at the food hall on a Sunday. For more than 25 years, he has owned a house in Tunisia, where he has many friends. He visits several weeks every year.

“I tried to get the meat going there, but it didn’t really take off,” Harry laughed.

While Pioneer is currently run by Graham and David Jenkins, the fifth generation of the family, over the decades many of Harry’s own nieces and nephews have also worked for the company.

His nephew, Mark Brown, is area sales manager and has clocked up 28 years of service himself. In fact, the company recently discovered it has 18 employees who have worked for it for 25 years or more – between them totalling 600 years with Pioneer.

Graham Jenkins, managing director, said: “Many staff have spent all or most of their careers here, and they share with us the success, the challenges and the highs and lows of being at the heart of a modern business.

“If you go lower than 25 years, we have many more people who have been with us for 15 years or more.

“Most of our employees are from Carlisle or the surrounding area, and we pride ourselves on promoting from within.”

eparsons@cngroup.co.uk

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