Two Neath Metal Box employees celebrate their 40-years of service
THEY began working for one of Neath's biggest employers when they were just teenagers.
And 40 years later Linda Davies and Cath Smith — now lifelong friends — are still working at the Metal Box Factory.
Miss Davies marked her four decades of service this week and Mrs Smith will be celebrating her achievement in October.
Miss Davies, 56, started at the Milland Road factory — which is now named Crown Food UK — as an office girl at 16.
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"I am quite proud, especially as I can remember the day I started," she said. "And it has been fantastic over the years."
Miss Davies, who is now on reception and is also a manager's assistant, said starting her first job as a teen was daunting.
"I was a bit scared when I first started," she said.
"There were thousands of people working here and I was taken around the factory and there were all these strangers. But over the years you meet colleagues and make friends.
"Me and Cath have know each other for more than 40 years as we both went to the tech in Neath."
The duo marked her long service at a party with friends, family and colleagues on Tuesday.
"We had a lovely time," said Miss Davies, who lives in Cimla.
"We had lots of old photos. It was nice looking back and re-living lots of stories.
"Cath and I worked here when the Queen came in 1977 for her Silver Jubilee tour.
"It was a wonderful day. We had a marquee and all the directors and senior managers were there. It was lovely."
Mrs Smith, who works in HR, started at the factory when she was 17.
"I think it is quite special," said the 56-year-old from Old Road. "The years have gone so quick. It has been a very good company to work for.
"Both my parents and Linda's parents worked here. My mum worked here for 30 years and my dad for 42 years.
"My father worked in the lacquer department where they lacquered the tin plate and my mother was a wrapper and a packer."
The plant, which is owned by a company from Philadelphia, specialises in the manufacturing of lid components for food cans and employs around 300 people.
Mrs Smith said they have seen many changes happen over the years. "There were a lot of people working here then, around 2,000," she said.
"We only have 300 now.
"We are close knit — almost like a family feel. There have been a lot of changes.
"I think in the early days I would say there were more women working on the factory floor.
"Now there are fewer women in proportion to men.
"Back then we started with typewriters. We never had anything like calculators. So technology has made life easier."
A second celebration is planned for October to mark Mrs Smith's 40-year anniversary of joining the company.