Brian works in the same spot as when he was just 15!
Aged 83 and Grandfather of six, Brian Chorley, has worked for the last 16 years at Clarks Village in Somerset. However, Brian has a long history with the site of the Somerset shopping outlet having originally worked within the C&J Clark factory buildings formerly located on the same spot. Brian has clocked up 68 years at work and is as committed to his job as he was on his first day. And in nearly seven decades, he hasn’t even taken a day off sick, let alone considered retirement.
Brian commented: “I first came to work with Clarks back in 1953. We were quite poor after the war and dad was in the army. I wanted to go to work and earn some money." After an interview, Brian was invited to start work in the sole room of the original Clarks factory the following week.
He continued: “Going from school to a place like that was overwhelming. I did various jobs and, as I was young, twice a week I was able to do further education, so I chose to do woodwork and sport. I still remember getting my first brown envelope. After working 45 hours a week, I earned two pounds and three shillings – I gave one pound of it to mum.”
When he was 17, Brian learned the skill of sole cutting which would see him earn £12 a week. Throughout his career, he has cut men’s shoe soles and uppers for girl's shoes, as one of Clarks’ 24 cutters and helping to make 40,000 pairs of shoes a week.
Brian continued working for Clarks until it was bought out in the 1980s when he was in his mid-50s. The factory was closed and the area was later redeveloped into the premium Clarks Village shopping outlet which opened in 1993, and along with over 90 designer and high-street brands, is still home to the largest Clarks shoe shop in the world.
Brian's new role in Guest Services
In the meantime, Brian undertook various jobs to keep himself busy. Then, in 2005, a friend who had started work at Clarks Village called Brian, inviting him to join him.
“My job was to help sort out the waste cardboard, glass bottles, tin and polystyrene so they could be baled up and recycled – I was very happy,” commented Brian. “Then, one day three years ago I was called on the radio [...] I was asked to go up to the office. I didn’t think it sounded too good and asked if my days were numbered but they said if anything it was the other way round. They knew I was 80 and I was doing a strenuous job and asked whether I would like to work for guest services, helping people visiting Clarks Village. They gave me time to think about it, but I said yes straight away!”
In his new role in the guest services team, Brian greets and supports guests who have booked free mobility wheelchairs and electric scooters and also advises guests who need help during their visit to Clarks Village. “I go out of my way to help people,” said Brian. “I do everything I can to give them a good service and treat them with respect. I’ve been told so many times what a wonderful service they’ve had and they feel so happy, and that’s all I want [...] I love it here.”
Even at 83, Brian still has no plans to retire and looks to David Attenborough as his role model who is still working at 95. A true Clarks Village icon!