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50 years at IAH - one man has seen them all

5 August 2011

Today is the last day of 65-year-old Mike Pinfold's 50 years working in the Engineering and Maintenance (E&M) department of the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) in Compton, Berkshire - a team that he joined as an apprentice Painter and Decorator at the tender age of 15.

Mike Pinfold retirement. Credit: IAH

Mike Pinfold. Credit: IAH

During 50 years at the Institute, which receives strategic funding from BBSRC, Mike has seen a great deal of growth and change, both in the facilities and buildings which he has maintained and in the science taking place within them. In 1961, when a teenage Mike first started at Compton, scientists there were making important breakthroughs in trying to discover the cause of scrapie in sheep. Now, as he retires, IAH staff are celebrating their important contribution to the global eradication of the rinderpest virus. Mike has played an integral role supporting every one of those half-a-century's worth of achievements.

Speaking of his time at IAH, Mike said "I've seen many changes over my 50 years here, including lots of new buildings going up. There was a big expansion phase in the late 60s and early 70s, which culminated in a memorable visit by the Queen when she officially opened a new microbiology building and conference room. Then about 20 years later we had a new molecular biology building and animal facilities for when poultry research was transferred from the Houghton Laboratory in Cambridgeshire.

"The new labs being built at Pirbright will be very high tech, offering a good opportunity for a new generation of E&M people in the Institute. I have always felt part of the place. If we (E&M) hadn't been here, the science could not have been done. I've never not wanted to get out of bed in a morning to go to work at the Institute."

Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive of BBSRC, said "Very few people can say they have spent 50 years supporting world-leading research like Mike has. Only with the support of Mike and his colleagues in Engineering and Maintenance have IAH's scientists been able to work so successfully to combat animal disease. Mike has been an integral part of Compton since the early sixties and his contribution is remarkable."

Professor Dave Cavanagh of the Institute for Animal Health said "Mike's role means that he has probably met and worked with almost every one of the many hundreds of employees who have passed through the Institute over the last 50 years. No doubt every one of them will appreciate his amazing contribution and those of us currently at IAH will be very sad to see him go. Spending your entire working life working for one organisation is becoming increasingly rare in the 21st century and Mike's unique appreciation of the history of IAH will be sorely missed."



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