Gainsborough: Retiring after 54 years

David Halstead and Bekky French with the gift she painted for him to mark his retirement after 54 years.
David Halstead and Bekky French with the gift she painted for him to mark his retirement after 54 years.

After 54 years linguist David Halstead is retiring from the council for the second time since joining in 1959 at the tender young age of 16.

When David, 70, first started at the council things were very antiquated and the buildings dated from the 18th century.

He said: “When I started I was employed by the urban District Council, which was incorporated into West Lindsey District Council in 1974, much to the dismay of the staff at the time.”

“I moved into the old Guildhall when it was opened in 1966 and I was there when it closed in 2008. I think I am the only person who can say that.”

David can tell a few stories of the exploits of staff, and has been encouraged to write his memoirs, which would make interesting reading.

David is fluent in German, French and Dutch and can more than hold his own in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Icelandic, Russian, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Welsh and Gaelic.

His passion for languages comes in handy when he’s travelling Europe with his son in pursuit of his other hobbies – trains and photographing trains, and on holidays with his wife.

Alan Robinson, head of Revenues, Benefits and Central Services said David was ‘irreplaceable’.

“He is calm, enthusiastic with an incredible technical knowledge, it will be strange turning up for work and not having him here.”

“It was a unique situation having the former benefits manager working for you. As a new manager it was good to have David’s knowledge and experience working for me. In some cases that could be difficult but with David, it wasn’t.”

“He did not tell me to do it his way but he was always there for support and guidance,” he added.

David said he had enjoyed working for the authority because of the different jobs within finance, benefits and rates.

But he is now looking forward to a quiet life where he can pursue his hobbies and catch up on jobs around the house and garden.

“I am sorry to be leaving, but it is time to hand over to someone younger,” he said.

“I can now relax and stay in bed longer on those cold winter mornings.”

David and his wife Hazel are planning a short trip to Tenerife to start his retirement.

And next July they are going on a cruise to Norway and Svalbard - so he is now learning to speak Norwegian.