A Carrickfergus octogenarian has been hailed as an inspiration to work colleagues and those who care for the environment.
Bob Beattie, originally from Ballyclare, celebrated his 80th birthday at McDonald’s restaurant in the maritime area of Carrickfergus, where he has worked for 18 years.
Bob, who carries out a litter patrol around the location three mornings a week and is a valued member of the team, was presented with a cake, balloons and gifts to mark the significant milestone.
Local franchisee Des Lamph said: “Bob is fantastic with people and I admire his constant enthusiasm to do the job that he loves.
“We are all incredibly proud to work alongside him as he’s such an inspiring member of the team.”
One of the first restaurants to introduce ‘Litter Patrols’ in the UK, McDonald’s has also supported the Big Spring Clean Campaign since 2010.
Bob was also a member of the team that picked up a Platinum Award from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. As well as his regular role, one morning per week he is down at the marina area picking up litter.
Born on April 23, 1935, Bob attended school in his hometown of Ballyclare before working life began at the age of 14.
“I left school on the Friday and started at the Bleach Green on the Monday,” said Bob.
He was following the footsteps of his father David, who along with returning colleagues from the First World War were, in Bob’s words given “first preference” at the plant. His uncle Robert, after whom he is named, was killed in WW1 at the age of 18 and is listed in the roll of honour at Ballyclare War Memorial Park.
Speaking to the Times on the 70th anniversary of VE Day, Bob, who was 10 when the Second World War ended, has vivid memories of that time.
“I remember the Germans bombing Belfast. We had an aunt lived about two miles out of Ballyclare and I mind us going up and my father keeping me in at the hedges, the planes were going over. We went up to Craig Hill in Ballyclare and you could’ve seen them bombing Belfast.”
He remembers the town joining in the VE celebrations in 1945. “There were street parties and everything.”
A goalkeeper with Ballyclare schoolboys in his youth, he also recalls going to a “packed” Dixon Park to watch the Comrades entertain the likes of Linfield Swifts, Brantwood and Dundela.
“There was no social club then you see, everybody went to the match,” he added.
Although a resident in the Windmill area of Carrickfergus, he likes to return to the familiar territory of the Comrades Club at the weekend. “I go up for a dance on a Saturday night. I like the waltz.”
Bob, who has a grown-up son, David, also turns his hand to another skill that would have been important in the war years, growing his own vegetables on occasions.
However, it is the opportunity to continuing working a decade and a half after he reached retirement age that he seems to particularly relish.
Thanking his colleagues for the cake and presents, he says he enjoys being part of the McDonald’s culture.
And does he have any plans for calling it is a day? “Not yet, anyway,” is the emphatic response.