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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
Lesley Eke
Click to see interview...
When Lesley Eke left the solicitor's office where he'd just had a job interview, he noticed a placard outside. It said 'The King is dead, long live the Queen.' Lesley got the job he applied for in February 1952 and began work at the family firm in Chesham two weeks later.

"I didn't know much about what solicitors did in those days. It was a job and it seemed like a nice place to work so I came here and I'm still here."

Fifty years ago, becoming a solicitor was an expensive task. It took seven years without pay - to train and qualify.

But Lesley was keen to earn some money straight away so he began working as a clerk.

"I think when I first came I never really knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I was very good at figures and our accountant always seemed to be ill. So I came more or less as his assistant in case he, you know, went suddenly."

Despite spending his entire working life dealing with probates and trusts, Lesley says he's never been bored.

Stocks and trusts

Lesley still uses his typewriter rather than a computer
"Although a probate is a probate, they're all different. Different people die, they leave different assets and things. I love dealing with the stock market too all the trusts are in the stock market."

Although he has sat at the same desk for 30 years, many aspects of Lesley's office life have changed. Things used to be very formal the firm's partners were addressed as 'Sir' and Lesley says he would never have dreamed of seeing a client without wearing a tie and jacket.

The role of women in the firm has also changed immensely.

"The office was, I think, male dominated. There were a lot of girls but they usually were copy typists or secretaries who weren't expected to advance any further."

Changing times

Technology has also had an impact. Dictating machines now make life a lot easier for secretaries and photocopiers have reduced the need for typists.

"We used to have all those girls and most of them were just copying legal documents and those sort of things. Now we just go and take a copy of the original so all that typing is unnecessary."

After 51 years at work, Lesley says he'd like to retire soon. But the nature of his job means that he has lots of elderly clients who are reluctant to let him go.

"I manage a lot of old ladies affairs and they get to know you, they can trust you. That's why I'm having rather a difficult job retiring."

"So many people say 'Oh you can't retire, you've been dealing with my affairs for so long, nobody else knows anything about them.' But sooner or later I'll leave - sooner I hope!"

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