WHEN Alan Heard started work at a garage at the age of 15, Harold Wilson was Prime Minister and Englebert Humperdinck was top of the charts.

Fashions have come and gone, engines have got ever more sophisticated but Alan has steadily carried on the job he loves in the same garage.

Now Alan has worked at Palmer Garage in West Street, Tollesbury, for 50 years and has no plans of retiring any time soon.

Alan, 65, who is a father-of-two, has worked for three generations of Palmers at the family-run garage.

To mark the occasion, the garage presented him with a celebratory cake, 50 years to the day after he was first employed by the company.

A surprised Alan said: “I had no idea they had organised anything. We had spoken about it approaching 50 years since I started here, but I didn’t know there would be any sort of celebration.

“I have enjoyed myself in all the time I have been here. I left school at 15 with an interest in cars and in engineering. My father got me the job after speaking to the owner at the time and I have been at the garage ever since.

“I have worked for and alongside the Palmer family for my entire working life.

“ I worked for Roger’s dad and then when Roger came in I worked alongside him. He is very much the governor but I can back him up from time to time.”

Roger Palmer, the owner and manager of the garage, said: “He could run the place he knows it that well.

“He has been fantastic from day one.He was here when my grandfather was here, here when father ran the place, and has been fantastic help since I have taken over.

“It used to be that if I went on holiday anywhere, he would be in charge. That has changed slightly now that my son has got a bit older and is more involved with the business, but he is still hugely trusted.”

Times have changed a lot since Alan first began working at the garage back in 1967, and he has had to adapt to a number of differences and advancements in the car industry.

However, he believes his passion and interest in engineering and motor vehicles has helped see him through.

He said: “I have done all sorts during my time here. I did some bodywork and some general engineering, servicing and MOTs. It is not as involved as it was when I first started.

“Nowadays it is more a case of replacing pieces but back then we used to repair a lot of the parts that were going wrong on the cars. It was more hands-on in that sense.

“It has been quite a change during my time but because it happens so gradually you don’t really notice them. You learn on the job really.

“Having an interest in the industry anyway has been helpful to keep up with new trends.

“Even if I wasn’t working here I imagine I’d still be keen to find out what was going on with the latest developments.

“That has started again now with electric cars and hopefully I will be here when they start coming through in a big way but that might be a bit late in the day for me.”