Longest-serving worker clocks off for the last time
AT 3.55pm on March 29, Neil Hayward looked at his watch and a tear came to his eye.
For the past 40 years and 21 days, Neil would check his watch around that time and know he only had a few minutes to go before he knocked off for the day.
He'd say his farewells and catch up with his workmates the following work day.
Neil, the longest-serving employee of the Clarence Valley Council, retired just before Easter and is now spending his time doing exactly as he pleases.
At a brief farewell function at the council's Bruce Street works depot in Grafton, Neil said he was happy to be taking on another challenge.
"The tear only lasted until I got to the bar," he joked.
"I've made a lot of friends and had a lot of good work experiences. It's been great."
Neil officially hung up his work boots two days after he turned 65.
Now it's time for his family and a spot of relaxation.
"I'll play golf a couple of times a week and I've got a boat and a caravan so there'll be some fishing and travelling happening," Neil told the Daily Examiner.
"My daughter lives in Canberra so that will probably be our first trip."
Neil said working for the council for four decades had been a "good journey".
"I worked for three different councils during that time - Nymboida, Pristine Waters and Clarence Valley Council - at different depots, with a lot of different people. I've made some good friends along the way," he said.
His managers all spoke highly of him.
Works and civil director Troy Anderson said Neil had always acted in the best interests of council, ratepayers and his work colleagues.
General manager Scott Greensill said having long-serving staff members like Neil gave strength and stability to the organisation.
And while Neil was looking forward to the freedom retirement brings, he said it was early days yet.
"It still feels like I'm just on holidays. I keep looking out the front (of his house) for the work ute."
And it isn't just Mr Hayward adjusting.
"It's only been a few days and my wife has told me to get back to work already," he said.