I was born in Cannock on 14 February 1960, the eldest of 3 sisters.
In the early 1970s I used to live, with my family in St. Johns Road in Stafford, and a couple of doors 'up the street' at Thark lived Dr Simon, I knew him as a kindly gentleman who occasionally gave me a lift in his rather nice, big car. At that time I did not realise that he was connected with Evode, I just knew that he had a large factory at the other end of the town. When I joined Evode, we had moved away, and sadly Dr Simon had passed away in the September of the previous year, although people still spoke highly of him and always referred to him as a 'The Old Man'.
I was educated at Blessed William Howard school, and came away with 5 'O' levels, my mother had wanted me to go to university and then join the Hong Kong police force, but I knew I would never have studied hard, but would have thrown myself into the social life, so I may as well enjoy life in Stafford. I applied and took and job at Stafford Library, working at the main library on The Green in town, a wonderful old Victorian building, and also working in the outlying libraries. The hours were long, but I loved working with books especially the privilege of reading new books as they were published before the general public could get their hands on them!! I didn't enjoy working the funny hours which we did, especially all day Saturday and when I had finished at Holmcroft or Rising Brook Library at 7pm on a Friday night, I had to get an infrequent bus into town and then home to Newport House on the Newport Road where I lived, to get ready to go out. By the time I got home I was too pooped, which was not good for a young girl!
I had a large group of friends, and went out a lot, one of the group was Bill Armstrong who worked at Evode, he said I should apply for his job went he left the labs and went to be a salesman for Evode. He said the pay was good, and you didn't work Saturdays unless you wanted to (but if you did work Saturdays you got time and a half and double time pay), in fact, he said Evode has the nick-name 'The Holiday Camp' life was soooooo easy there. So I applied. I was interviewed by Colin Lovatt and Tony Talbot (I worked relief duty with his wife Ann at Baswich library). I wore my best burgundy wool dress, but half way through the interview my bra strap broke, I was quite embarrassed. But I got the job.
They had a collection for me at the library when I left and we all went to the Sun Smithfield over the road for an evening of drink and revelry, I can't remember what I bought with the money, but they also presented me with a large tin of Evo-Stik, which I thought was a bit stupid as I was going to work in the factory that made the stuff so I'd probably be tripping over tins of Evo-Stik for the rest of my life!!
Two weeks before I started at Evode I went to a concert (AD/DC) at Trentham and a huge chap knocked me over dislocating my left shoulder which had only just healed after a car accident. So I arrived with my left arm in a sling Monday 19th March 1979, but I was keen to get started on the training involved in becoming a Quality Control Laboratory Assistant. In contrast to the quiet, genteel world of the library service, where the loudest sound was a muffled sneeze, I was quite unprepared for the noise, bustle and constant activity of the factory, and the smells,- xylene, white spirit ,toluene, naphtha, - I thought my poor nose would never recover from the assault of the first day!! I was given a white lab coat and set to work in the 'Paints Lab' servicing the 'Black Bog', (the bituminous production area). My first task was the testing of Flashband, which was churned out in copious quantities in those days, so testing it was almost a full time job. A couple of times a day I would have to go up to the Bitumen's to collect the samples, I hated it because the men in the factory would all whistle or sing that awful Neil Sedaka song which has haunted me all my life 'Oh Carol'. I would stagger back to the lab with great armfuls of finished Flashband and samples of the mass spread out on boards covered with Twinstik. Testing the mass was done with a 'high tech' piece of kit, a metal cartridge base nailed to a piece of wood, which punched out a disc approx. 5g from the Flashband mass which had been spread on release paper, this disc was then pressed onto an abraded panel and put in the oven at 90c to assess slump qualities. The finished Flashband samples had to have a 100x100mm square cut out from three areas across the width and weighed, the aluminium foil was razor sharp, and my poor hand suffered a million cuts in their time on Flashband. There were of course other products, Paste I, Vertilast, Roof and Gutter, and these entailed a range of test methods which I gradually became familiar with. We used to do a Paste II test which involved copious amounts of asbestos being mixed in, we didn't have masks, and the fume cupboard used to grind noisily away but didn't suck much out. When they did give us masks, they stank, made you sweat, and everyone laughed, pointed and shouted 'Miss Piggy'
In the centre of the Paints Lab was a 25L bucket of solvent usually white spirit, on a stand, each Friday two of us would lug it up to the bitumen's and dispose of it, then lug a fresh bucket filled with clean solvent back to the lab, gradually through the week as kit was cleaned in it, it turned black and a thick sludge formed in the bottom, woe betide you if you dropped something into it, as you had to roll up your sleeve, stick your arm into the solvent and grope around in the sludge to retrieve it. Friday afternoon also saw bench cleaning whereby all the old release paper was ripped off the benches and great rolls of clean (brown Flashband or white Twinstik)) release paper were rolled down the length of the bench, cut and sellotaped into place. Occasionally we got a 5L tin of solvent and cleaned all the bitumen off the white cupboard fronts, removing the gobs of bitumen and spilt wood dyes.
When I joined Evode, I also came with a bit of excess baggage, the title 'Miss Royal British Legion 1979' (I was considerably thinner and less wrinkled in those days!) and this became butt of many jokes which have lasted even to this day. As a youngster and a 'girl' I was the easy target of many jolly japes and jokes, such as 'pop down the store and collect a box of benzene rings!!' I entered Miss Evode in 1979 just after I had joined but wasn't placed as I already had a title, but we were given half a day off work to 'beautify' ourselves!!
I was always amazed at the family atmosphere in the factory, every Friday someone bought in great trays full of eggs, or flowers, or the most wonderful black puddings, and there was always a collection going round for someone or other, then there was the football pools, - the most important job of the week apparently, as lines were filled in and pennies rattled out of pockets for various syndicates, there was also the Evode 200 Club whose three weekly winners were announced on a Friday morning over the Tannoy.
Alfie Dellacompagni bought me a couple of pheasants in once and I sat and plucked them in the lab, we were choking on feathers in the paints lab for weeks after. Alf used to cut the Flashband in a room out of the back of the lab, and he was a devil, he would call you over to his machine, he wanted to show you something, and before you knew it he had pulled out a magazine with some naked man who, to put it mildly was over endowed, well Alf would shake with laughter till tears rolled own his face if he though he had shocked you!! Johnny Hough also worked on the Flashband cutting, he was a very mild, kind gentleman, I never heard him swear once, and Pete Mellor, well, I thought he was the most humorous man on the planet, he had such a wicked sense of humour. There was Stan Spalek, he has a number tattooed on his arm from the concentration camps during the war which I though quite horrific, and finally Brenda Davies who worked in the bitumen office, they called her Dick Tracey because she knew everything, but at Christmas she made the most marvellous mince pies.
I bumped into Harley Powell in Coatings, I didn't realise he worked here. As a child of about 10 years old he was our milkman at Doxey, and on a Friday night he would collect me on his float and I would help him collect the money from his round, my reward? ~ a milk bottle full of real orange juice.
In summer we were given white cotton aprons to wear, the lab doors were wedged open and we had ice creams in the freezer part of the fridge (nestling amongst the bitumen and varnish samples, very hygienic!) as we sweltered away, the sun blazing on the windows of the south facing lab (which they eventually covered with a reflective film), in later years the company gave free orange squash to the factory and labs in hot weather. But I loved Christmas, even though it was dark and cold walking round the factory, the lights always looked warm in the lab as you trudged back in the snow laden down with samples wearing the standard issue lab coat and safety shoes (flat, black with zero sex appeal) and huddled up in a donkey jacket with EVODE blazoned on the back, I envied the girls in the offices who could wear nice clothes and high heeled shoes (which are my weakness), we could only wear old clothes because no matter how careful you were, bitumen always found a way onto your clothes. We worked Christmas Eve until midday which seemed pointless as no-one did anything but loads of food (and forbidden booze, especially vodka by the Poles) was bought in and consumed, then we went down town and fought our way through the last minute seasonal shoppers for coffee at Jenkinsons before going home. The factory used to have a disco on Christmas Eve afternoon at the Amasal Club just down the road, I only went once, it was rather rowdy!!
Apparently working half a day Christmas Eve was a tradition, many years ago when they worked all day, some used to over imbibe at the local pub at lunchtime, so it was reduced to half a day and the Old Man used to give a speech over the Tannoy before they finished, but he had died 6 months before I joined. We still work half a day on Christmas Eve. Easter was funny as all other businesses in the area had Good Friday and Easter Monday off, Evode had Easter Monday and Tuesday (which meant that for only 3 days off your holiday entitlement, you got an entire week off!)
In 1981 I got engaged to Rob Hollins, he had been knocking around in our group, and we sort of ended up together, he came to work at Evode in production planning as part of our plans to be together I enjoyed planning my bottom drawer, but I never wanted to get married, I felt that I hadn't seen the world, Rob was a lovely chap, but I wasn't the right one for him. I knew this when I stood in front of the mirror in my wedding dress, my heart sank, and I panicked, so it was all called off, in retrospect I should never let it get as far as it did. When I told them about it at work Fred Weygood said "There's always John Chard, he's just been widowed, and he's loaded, he'd make a nice catch" - at 50+ John Chard was older than my dad, and I was horrified that money could be a motive for marriage!
After this I moved out from my parents and lived alone, I really enjoyed my own company, I had my own flat at Newport House, on the Newport Road, a great Victorian mansion (with the reputation that The Rugeley Poisoner was in the process of buying it when he was rumbled!). Then I had my own two bedroomed house on Sandon Road with my two jet black Persian cats which I utterly adored.
My best friend at Evode was Angela Farnell, she was at University on a Hildegard Simon scholarship, she stayed with me in my flat at Newport House and in the opposite flat lived Bob Whitwood who worked in the Forward Technology Lab. They ended up together. One spring the common was ablaze with dandelions and we took a load of polythene buckets and filled them with flower heads and made gallons of wine which festered in my shed on Sandon Road for months before bottling, it was delicious, we drank loads. - No-one had told us dandelions were diuretics!!
As part of the training I was sent to Stafford College every Wednesday with other new Laboratory Assistants from Evode and other companies across the County to study for O.N.C./H.N.C, however, not being mathematically gifted, (even now I struggle to add up when in Sainsburys!) the complicated equations involved in organic chemistry and physics were like a foreign language to me, and I became more and more frustrated, so I switched to studying for the City & Guilds certificate in Quality Assurance and then went on to further qualify as a Licentiate of The Institute of Quality Assurance, with credit in all papers, which entitles me to put AIQA after my name. I didn't really enjoy college, it was a long day and I struggled to keep awake, let alone learn! I knew when it was 8pm as the bells of St Mary's peeled, only another hour to go. I knew it was a privilege to go to college but nothing was relevant to cutting out discs of bitumen, and I would never achieve the great heights of Research & Development work where these convoluted chemical equations may be put to good use.
The factory had 'shutdowns', where all production would cease for a week twice a year. As staff we could come in if alternative work was found, usually grim tasks were found to deter us. Painting the labs, working in the main labs where all the rotten jobs like cleaning the little mixers where saved up for us, or making and testing really gruesome batches which no-one in the main lab wanted to tackle. QC staff were regarded as the 'poor cousins' compared to the 'brains' in the main lab. One year Graham Richardson had a weeks worth of graphs for me to compile upstairs in the lab, being mathematically dyslexic I plundered on making a total mess of the whole lot, a waste of 40 hours, but he was OK about it, probably reinforced the view that QC staff were dimwits!! A few years later he became the manager of the QC labs, goodness knows what he thought of the rabble he inherited from Colin Lovatt when Colin was charged with setting up Quality Assurance, (Colin had taken the QC reins over from John Chard)
There were quite a few Polish people working in the 'Black Bog' of the bitumen department, some of which I knew from the Polish Club from previous years, and they were blessed with what I began to realise was a sense of humour indigenous only to Evode, very dry, cynical, almost sarcastic (which over the years I seem to have acquired in great quantity!!) Sometimes they told sad stories of their younger years in their old country, I could listen to Eric Klepacki all day, he was such a gentle soul, they called him 'The Vicar' as he always had his hands clasped, he had a very sad tale of his childhood in Poland, and there was another gentle gentleman, Stan Halberda, who worked on the Morton mixing the Flashband mass, became a good friend, and would always find time to talk, and help with the samples, he rarely came into the laboratory, but each Christmas he came silently into the lab and placed a carefully wrapped present of exquisite cherry liqueur chocolates on the bench, and without a word he would leave. When Stan retired, I was involved in organising a party at the Stafford Rangers Club for him and several others from the Bitumen Department, it was a great success, and afterwards, Stan came silently into the lab with a small gift of thanks which is of great sentimental value to me. Stan, very sadly is no longer with us.
Graham Turner, Eric Klepacki, Noel Bevans, Evan Winter
Stan Halberda, Carol Lake~Turner, Ted Wojtulewicz
In 1983 I went to Poland with Bogdan Wojtulewicz to deliver parcels during the 'Solidarity' strikes. It had started as a joke in the lab that I should go and see the world, so really for a dare I went, Dan had a big van filled with parcels from families in Stafford to go over there and I volunteered to map read. It was a fabulous experience travelling through Europe and into Poland, the mountain scenery was marvellous and we went all over Poland, from Krakov right up to Augustov on the Russian border with these parcels. We were really made welcome, it was very tiring but something that I wouldn't have missed for the world!!
The eighties were a great time, especially the social side, day trips to Boulogne organised from the Sports & Social Club, they were a long slog, the coach left the club at midnight then trundled through the night to Dover for a crossing in the freezing cold (always in winter) to go to a supermarket to buy as much cheap booze and could be obscenely stuffed into the boot of the coach and then we trundled back to Stafford late on a Sunday night in time for work, bleary eyed and exhausted on Monday. I enjoyed these trips as firstly they were abroad and travel was now my ambition, and secondly I could try all the wonderful foods, such as stinky cheese, snails, horse meat and frogs!
They had discos at the Social Club, mainly they were Bill Armstrong's disco, 'Special Blend' I used to help Bill out (as by now I was part of Hospital Radio Stafford and BBC radio), they used to have an extended bar and buffets mainly on Friday and Saturday nights, and they did weddings engagements, all sorts.
The Stafford Pageant was resurrected in the late 80's , as a child in the 1960's I remember the excitement of it, the streets lined with people, flag sellers and brass band so loud I thought my heart would burst, and of course the many floats that seemed to go on forever, stopping and starting as they paraded through the town centre, so I thought it would be novel to be involved on a float.
Evode did 'Showboat' in 1988, we made the float on the Saturday morning, bit of a panic getting it ready and then into our hired costumes, it caused great mirth for the people who were in on Saturday morning overtime in the factory, one by one they all trooped by giving their considered opinion on the float and what we looked like, - then off we went. We started off from GEC there was a lot of waiting around, and the floats went so painfully slowly along As we went over the river in town I saw my best friend from school, Sandra Hanlon, I'd not seen her since 1976, and as I tried to lean down and give her my phone number certain law the float then picked up speed and hurtled forward at break neck speed and she was lost in the crowd frantically waving. Needless to say the float seemed to be fuelled by a various assortment of alcohol, discreted around the float!! We did another float called 'Tribute to the Stars' the next year, but it wasn't a patch on 'Showboat' nor was the atmosphere as brilliant.
For at least two years we were involved with 'Its a Knockout' up at the County Showground all good fun, we were kitted out in red tracksuits with 'EVO-STIK' emblazoned on the backs, and off we trooped to war with other local industries, and we actually won the trophy much to our surprise as to be honest we were an unfit, motley crew!!
In 1987 The Princess Royal came to Evode. For weeks the place was scrubbed and painted and even a special lavatory was commissioned for her (which she didn't christen!!). Security was paramount as Special Detectives searched and sealed cupboards, drawers sewers and gullies, which to me seemed a pointless exercise as when she finally arrived, we all had Stanley and Cobblers knives in our lab coat pockets!! The Director, the Mayor and the chosen few were assembled on the car park awaiting her arrival. When the helicopter landed on the football field, the down draft was so forceful it blew dresses and skirts up, and whipped fresh hairstyles into a mess, quite a funny sight!! As the Princess toured the Warehouse, I stood next to John Turner who worked in the Quality Assurance Lab, at the time I was all fired up with my plans to visit Egypt, when I was 12 the Tutankahamun exhibition had come to England (just as our family flew out to Spain) but I had been inspired by my teacher about Egypt and always wanted to see the actual tomb. This was the first time I'd really spoken to him, I used to join John and Ken Hanlon in the canteen on a Thursday as they had a roast, all I had was four portions of roast potatoes, covered in brown sauce, nothing else, heavenly - I only had a galley kitchen at my little house on the Sandon Road with a freezer and microwave, no cooker and as I couldn't roast potatoes myself, I would gorge on a Thursday ~ ambrosia indeed!!
When I got back from Egypt John took me for a drink to hear all about my adventures, and before the year was out, we were married at Stafford register office on 22 September 1988, our wedding invitations were Egyptian and very unusual. The reception was at the Holly Bush at Seighford, and twice I put my foot through my Laura Ashley wedding dress and tore it, when the moment came to cut the cake, John picked up a knife and fork and went to attack it, That should have been a good pointer to the diverse sense of humour that came with him. We went to Venice for our honeymoon, it was quite glorious. Considering it was a very small, quiet wedding, we were quite overwhelmed by the presents and gifts we received from our colleagues at Evode, and I'm sure the collection we received was a measure of sympathy for poor John, marrying 'The Dragon-Lady' as I was then known as by the factory, and the first thing we bought with our collection was something every newly wed couple needs - an electric blanket!!
In the late 80's we took over the Idenden range of Insulating products (and we also inherited Brian Malony, a great character!) The two adhesive were made in the Adhesives then shipped in 200 gallon drums over to the Coatings Department where they were sandwiched between foil and release paper. At the time Q.C. had a lab in the Adhesives building, and a lab in a Portakabin stuck in between the warehouse and the football field which covered the Mastics production, shifts were just coming in and whilst I didn't mind working between 6am and 10pm I most definitely did not want to work nights on my own in the Portakabin, I did not feel safe in such an exposed setting and the drums would pop and clang as they cooled down at night which was really scary, so I threw myself into Idenden testing in the Adhesives lab with great gusto, I tested it every which way it could be tested, sticking it to mild steel plates and pulling it apart on the Instron, such a lot of wasted time and work, but while I was doing it, it kept me off shifts. I later learned that my colleagues hated absolutely testing anything remotely connected with Idenden and were so quite content that I had taken on the mantle. In retrospect, If I had known how detested Idenden was I wouldn't have been so enthusiastic and would have spent more time lounging over the Instron counting the cows on the common!!
In 1985 I received the B.B.C. Bronze medal for fish cooking, and then in 1991 I was given the gold for the B.B.C. Campaign for Great British Food - the only person ever to achieve two medals from the Beeb for cooking. Since then poor John has been teased mercilessly, people think he has exquisite banquets laid before him every night, and woebetide him if he's ever caught in the 'chippie' comments like "Fanny and Jonny in the kitchen" are the norm!!!
The worst day at Evode came about 1992, things had been getting bad, and despite cost saving exercises, the share prices kept falling. One Friday we all were summoned by Mike Topley to the Kelseal production area at 3.30pm for an announcement. We all genuinely believed that we were going to be told that the factory gates would be closed forever on that day. It was rumoured that Wassal were bidding for Evode, but we were led to believe that they were asset strippers, so for some weeks it was dark days indeed. Laporte took us over, and it was time to hold our breath again as sweeping redundancies were announced and implemented, all my grade in Q.C. went, but by then I had just transferred over to Technical Services, a wise move but I did miss my great debates with Allan Holt, who as a Jehovah's Witness, had very differing religious views to myself, and we used to argue black was blue to our hearts content from 7.15 am until he left at 10.30am (he was part time)
The years ticked by, I had always admired the 'glamorous' side of Technical Service, and in 1993 the opportunity to transfer over to the Tech Service Lab arose. Paul Waites always used to come into Quality Control and spin these yarns about how wonderful life was in Tech Services, all the fabulous hotels he stopped in, games of golf, foreign travel, the malt whiskies which he reluctantly had to indulge in, that sounded like my kind of job!! So when a job came up I went for it, but there was confusion as to whether I went into Technical, or into the main lab to work with John Fenn, thankfully my guardian angel intervened, and I picked up my pallet knife and other tools of my trade and went down to the prefabricated building that housed Tech Services.
I spent a year in the Lab testing shoes, and samples from industrial customers requiring adhesives for their particular applications, I even went out to see customers and their processes which was fascinating to see what the adhesives actually did (In Q.C. we tested the products without really being aware of their end use.) Then in 1994 I became part of the Technical Service Team, as Customer Advice Technician, answering Building & Homecare queries, in 1995, I also took over the complaint system, and the whole thing has since been revamped I remember my first day on complaints, I sat at my clean desk with a computer and telephone twiddling my fingers waiting for the first call which came in about 9.20 am, the customer absolutely wiped the floor with me about a donkeys years old Colourseal which hadn't set and when I sheepishly replaced the receiver I could have burst into tears I really regretted taking up this new job. I have toughened up a lot since then, in the beginning I used to think that the customer was always right, - not any more!!.
In 1996, Technical Service was split into business streams, and David Ward and I moved into the Building & Homecare Division. It is extremely busy, taking 80 to 120 calls a day, handling the complaints which is where I have discovered previously unknown tact and diplomacy skills especially as more and more consumer programmes are encouraging customers to be 'loud, be awkward and complain' and the amount of complaints we receive are increase at the moment. Some of the things we hear and have to respond to would be a good subject for a book when I retire, I would love to meet some of the consumer programme presenters who say be loud be awkward and complain, because to customers this equates to as being extremely rude or aggressive!!
In October 1996, just as John and I had got back from Seefeld in Austria where we had spent the week achieving the Austrian Gold Hiking Medal (which to me was a miracle, as at the age of 16 I had only attained bronze, and had been pretty impressed with that!) Linda Birch called me to her office to tell me that John was in another office being made redundant. We walked home in the most brilliant sunshine over the common, had a coffee under the pergola, pulled out all our paperwork and went through everything single bill with a fine tooth comb It was awful. I worried that he might do something silly whilst I was at work, so he had strict instructions not to stick his head in the microwave or other daft things when he had bad moments, in fact it was me who had the bad moments, and it affected my health quite adversely, I never knew I was a worrier. In the main, people were very good and supportive, but some found it difficult to talk to us, or referred to John in the past tense, a couple of people actually crossed the road rather than speak to us. I explained they were embarrassed, it was a natural reaction!
I wrote over 200 letters of job application for him, not one reply, not one acknowledgement, it was soul destroying. We went to the dole office - what a depressing experience. Thank heavens for Mike Wheat who had recently left Evode's Technical Service to work for BAL, there was a job at Dunlop Adhesives (part of BAL) in Birmingham so five weeks later John was back at the grindstone, all his dreams of early retirement, and perhaps writing a book turned to dust. (thankfully!!) The funny thing was Mike had a reputation for taking so long on the phone to answer a simple query, the record being an hour and a half, so we shouldn't have been surprised that it took almost an hours chatting before he got around to telling John that he had got the job, in fact I dragged a chair into the hall so John could have a sit down while the call went on and on and I bit my nails further and further down to the quick!!
The following year we went to the Evode 25 Club as John is a member, (he had just done 27 years when he left), and even there some people ignored him, even though he was working, people he went to school with, and had been to our home, who considered themselves as our friends. Looking back the redundancy came at the right time John was pushed when he should have jumped, his job had gone years ago, he was just turning up and lozzacking around, and it paid off the mortgage.
In February 2000 I hit 40, I had taken out a share option with Evode many years ago, and watched the share price fall to 48p before Laporte took us over. This was my first dabble in finance, and it was my intention to use the money for my 40th birthday for a cruise on the QE2, Laporte honoured the share options and my windfall was stashed away for the big event. Instead of the QE2, I went to Las Vegas instead, - fabulous. My next ambition is to have an Alaskan cruise, I am saving hard!! Thanks to Evode and the pay packets down the years I have been very fortunate to live well and travel widely, but in these uncertain times when redundancy is now a fact of life, I don't know how much longer I have to indulge my passion.
As I write this these are the happiest years of my time I am now the Technical Co-ordinator running the complaints system for Building and Consumer Division, in Technical with Dave Ward. Mr Ward is the most supportive, helpful witty (and untidiest!!) person I have had the privilege to work for, he also is very tolerant, as I am the worlds greatest 'chunterer' he has the misfortune to sit for 8 hours a day while I chunter and ramble on!! To have a job whereby I actually enjoy getting out of bed and walking to work, especially across the common in all weathers, is part of a very good life.
We were taken over again by Elf in 1996 and finally we are now Bostik Findley, but it's amazing how many meetings I have been to over the years, - 'State of the company' whereby it's all doom and gloom and no pay rises all round - but things are going to get better now that so-and-so is in charge, things never change!!
Dave Ward resurrected the Evode History project a couple of years ago, very enthusiastically, and I volunteered as his assistant to do the 'donkey & plodge work' for him by doing the typing. When all the bits and pieces started turning up, and we had access to all the documents which had been deposited in the Staffordshire Archives, I sat down and thought "What on earth have I let myself in for, --- where on earth do I start?" There was so much information like a huge out of control jigsaw, so the way to tackle it was to use the 'like eating an elephant with a teaspoon' mentality. We began to fit everything together on a year-on-year basis to make sense of it all. In the office we nicknamed the project 'Chumbawumba' although Barrie Liss gave it the working title of 'The Backward Dove'. We then tackled the Evode 25 Club history, and finally we approached 'Evodians' for their personal memories of working at Evode which are like ghosts talking about their experiences, these have been incredibly interesting, people seem to confirm what others have written, and hopefully in years to come will let people know what life at Evode has been like.
On 1 January 2001, Evode Ltd. ceased to exist as the company became part of Bostik Findley, this appears to have a profound effect on people who still feel that they are still 'working for the Family' and seem to take the demise of the name 'Evode' personally, but time moves on, Evode really stopped being Evode in 1993 when it was taken over by Laporte, and at the end of the day, the factory is just a place where you come to work to keep the wolf from the door, and you have to swear allegiance to whatever flag is flying these days with all the mergers and take-overs which are the norm, after all you yourself are just a commodity, part of the company's fixtures, a small cog of no importance just plodging on towards redundancy or retirement or, as we all dream, those 6 numbers on the lottery - and when mine come up I shall upgrade my travelling habits from cattle-class to posh-pampering!