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Sewage works boss flies into retirement after 49 years

Wednesday 30th December 2020 11:33

Bob Steptoe retires from Oxford sewage works with a model plane made for him by colleague

Aircraft enthusiast Bob Steptoe was given a very special retirement gift after an incredible 49-year career at Thames Water.

His colleagues at Oxford sewage works built him a model bi-plane from spare tools and parts from around the site in Grenoble Road – and bought him two tickets to Fairford Air Show next summer.

To top it off, he also received a large case of red and white wine.

Bob, who’s just turned 66, lives in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, and now plans to spend more time with his family.

“The kids are all grown up but I’ve got three grandchildren and the wife has a big list of things she wants – including a new kitchen,” he said.

Bob was just 17 when he joined Thames Water.

Little did he know back then in 1971 that, almost half a century later, he’d still proudly be working for the water company, rising from a technician at Chipping Norton sewage works to a performance manager at Oxford.

“It’s a high-stress job that keeps coming at you, there is no way around it – but it just gets into your blood,” he said, before bringing the curtain down on his career on December 18.

“My dad and two brothers also worked for Thames. It’s been a real family affair, and the guys I’ve worked with have all been a great bunch.

“I tell people I’ve been in the recycling business for 49 years. We take wastewater and return it to the environment as a quality, clean, product. The last thing we want to do is pollute anything or kill any fish.

“I’m really proud of my career and I’ve really enjoyed sharing my knowledge with others.”

David Furness, Oxford’s controller of premises, said: “We’re all so proud and honoured that Bob dedicated his entire working life to Thames Water and our customers. It really is a remarkable achievement.

“Bob and I have looked after Oxford for the last ten years, and faced many challenges together along the way but, thanks to his pride and professionalism, it is now a substantially better place than it was when he arrived.

“He will be sorely missed by all of us, and we wish him all the very best for the next exciting chapter in his life.”