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The Golden Jubilee 1952-2002

It's our working jubilee too!

Val Proudfoot
Les Henry
David Conn
Jim Kerr
Jack Shirvell
Tom Griffith
Lesley Eke
Audrey Hawkin
Dai Owen
Jim Dade
Sadie Jefferson
James Finlay
James Finlay
James Finlay is a man that typifies tradition in Northern Ireland. The 70-year-old has worked in his family's poultry processing business since he left school, a business started by his grandfather and continued by his father.

His firm's lorries collect chickens from farmers in County Antrim and take them to the factory near Ballyclare, where they are processed and sold on to local butchers' shops and restaurants.

The factory has been in the family for three generations
And as proof of his dedication, he never took a week off until two year's ago.

"I was born in this house here on the premises and I have worked in the business all my life," he said.

"I stayed in the job primarily because I loved the business and it was the family tradition.

"In this area, whatever the father did, generally the son carried on."

Changes to legislation governing food production have made a dramatic change to the way poultry is processed, says James.


"When I started in the business, the word hygiene was never mentioned.

"When the men plucked the hens or the chickens they would just throw them down on the floor and another man would come and collect them and he would have hung them up on rusty nails.

The chickens are kept in much more hygenic conditions these days
"Now a chicken must not be thrown on the floor at all or a veterinary inspection would close your premises."

As James looks around the factory, he points to the shiny machinery now in operation.

"The technology has improved immensely as you can see from all this. It is all stainless steel.

"There are no wooden boxes or compartments, no rusty nails.

"The most significant change is the hygiene.

"The men would have come in with dirty Wellington boots coming in from the farm - now there are no dirty Wellington boots allowed and the man all have to wear white overalls, white hats and white Wellington boots," he said.

Working seven days a week

If there ever was an example of a workaholic, James fits that bill.

He said he usually worked a seven-day week and delivered poultry to hotels and restaurants on Sundays if it was required.

"I have coped very well and up until two years ago I never had a seven-day holiday in my life.

"Two years ago a friend asked me to go to Hong Kong with him for 10 days and that was the first period of my life that I was off work."

"I have never been bored with it. I was born into it and I love it.

"I could have closed the factory on numerous occasions but it never entered my mind. Even in a bad period, I never would have dreamt about closing the chicken factory."

No holidays

Although James' son has followed in his footsteps, he doubted many of today's teenagers would take his example.

"The younger generation are more holiday orientated and want their fortnight in the sun.

"I've never been on a holiday to any of the warm countries, to Spain or Portugal in my life.

"But if I was a youngster again, I would still do the same. It's in the family blood."

When asked about whether he would hang up his Wellingtons, James was adamant: "I'll never retire and as long as I'm able to work I'll be up in the factory."

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