Two North Yorkshire brewery employees have celebrated 60 years combined service with a socially-distanced pint of cask ale at their Masham workplace.
Brewer Kevan Procter joined T&R Theakston Ltd in 1985 aged 24, and Jonathan Manby joined the family-run firm – famed for its legendary beers including Old Peculier, Best Bitter and Theakston Lightfoot – as an apprentice cooper a decade later.
Over the last 35 years Kevan, who is Masham born and bred, has been at the heart of the Theakston brewing team, working with many other life-long employees of the family brewery in the famous brewhouse built by Robert Theakston in 1875.
Kevan said: “I was 24 when I started at Theakston’s and it really is a great place to work. I’ve certainly no intention of retiring just yet.
There have been four head brewers during my time at Theakston’s, but there has been very little if any change to the way we brew beer in all my years. If asked what my favourite beer is, I’d have no doubt in saying our legendary Old Peculier.”
Meanwhile, Jonathan Manby, who began his working life with an apprenticeship with Theakston’s in 1995, is now one of the country’s only remaining craft brewery, coopers, and has now become a Master of his trade, having overseen his own apprentice recently officially completing his four-year internship.
Jonathan, who has handmade thousands of wooden casks – ranging in size from four-and-half-gallon Pins to 54-gallon Hogsheads – said: “When I joined Theakston’s, the brewery was owned by Scottish and Newcastle. It was fantastic when it came back under the ownership of Simon Theakston and his brothers in 2003.
“I’m very proud of the part I play at Theakston’s, which has employed Coopers since it first began brewing beer in 1827. It has helped keep the ancient craft of coopering alive and long may it continue.”
Simon Theakston, T&R Theakston Ltd executive director – who himself will soon be celebrating 40 years since he first joined Theakston and is a direct descendent of brewery founder Robert Theakston – said: “Both Kevan and Jonathan are part of the furniture and are valued members of our extended Theakston’s family.
“Their combined 60 years’ service is a significant milestone. It is a terrific achievement and I’d like to personally like to thank them from the bottom of my heart for their contribution in helping make Theakston’s what it is today, and for keeping us at the forefront of English traditional cask brewing.”