Friday 18th September 2020 10:01
When he joined Thames Water aged just 18, Basingstoke’s Chris Newman never realised he’d still be there more than 40 YEARS later.
In fact, the compliance manager has made such an impact on the people he works with, they’ve named a brand new conference room at Chertsey sewage works in Surrey after him.
“It’s an absolute honour,” he said, “because when I am long gone it’s going to be here in years to come. Hopefully people will ask, ‘who was this Chris Newman guy?’”
After all these years, Chris is still passionate about making a difference for Britain’s biggest water company, and has no plans to retire just yet.
He said: “I spend a lot of time putting into layman’s terms the issues and the solutions we face every day on a sewage treatment works. The lads will come to me and ask ‘what
does this mean?’ I get a lot of pleasure out of that. I’d like to think I’m quite approachable.”
Chertsey sewage works serves around 89,000 customers across Chertsey, Egham, Lyne, Addlestone and parts of Weybridge. It also turns poo into power, producing all the green electricity it needs to run the site, and selling the rest to the National Grid.
Chris, who turns 59 later this year, was just 18 when he joined Thames Water as a general operator at Hartley Wintney sewage works in Hampshire in 1979.
“It was only meant to be a stop-gap,” he said, “but I just absolutely loved it, and here I am 41 years later. In the early days we used to spend all summer painting and grass cutting, and in the winter it was tree cutting.”
Since then Chris has been a sludge press operator, a team leader and a catchment manager. He is now a compliance manager, maintaining sewage treatment processes and managing a team of process scientists.
He said: “I like the fact every day is different. It’s a real team and family environment. Everybody looks out for each other; nobody would like to see anybody struggling. I enjoy the job that much, I don’t plan to retire any time soon!”
John Penicud, Thames Water regional operations manager, said: “Chris has made a significant difference to the performance of the sites in the south. He's a great coach and has used his experience to build the confidence of our teams to deliver a sustainable change. I’m not sure what we would do without him.”