Bill has been a familiar face to generations of Bedford’s shoppers across four decades and was surprised by retailers, his colleagues and close family on Wednesday who cheered him off into retirement.
Known as the ‘go to man’ locally he has seen so much in his time as Security Supervisor at the shopping centre.
His knowledge, caring manner and no-nonsense presence made him become the ‘face’ of the Harpur Centre.
Bill has led the team and shared his experience and knowledge to countless colleagues, shop teams and managers whilst ensuring the safety of our visitors was his top priority. Being one of the original first aiders and fire wardens, he has saved Bedfordian lives, bandaged up hundreds and evacuated the building more times than anyone.
He has even proudly helped deliver a baby and lost count of how many visitors, young and old that he has reunited with loved ones, or shoplifters detained.
Bill started his career at Caters supermarket when the Harpur Centre opened in 1979 and was soon employed by the centre and has remained a loyal employee ever since. Due to the pandemic and the closure of all non-essential retail last year, he delayed his retirement until he could reopen the Centre with us to welcome back stores and shoppers showing true dedicated to his role.
At 69, it is now time to enjoy retirement with his wife, family and granddaughter who was eagerly awaiting his arrival at his surprise send off.
Bill said: “Thank you all very much for turning up. It’s been a pleasure working here for forty years. I have made great friends, memories and hope I’ve served Bedford, the Harpur Centre and its amazing community well. It’s been an honour to be ‘Harpur Centre Bill’ but now it’s time to enjoy precious time with my wife, family and friends.”
Samantha Laycock, one of his dozen Centre Managers said: “William has touched many of our lives, helped thousands and been an award-winning leader, mentor and father figure to generations. He will be forever remembered as ‘Mr Harpur Centre’ as personally helped ensure we continued to be the beating heart of the town. We would like to thank him for his decades of service and wish him all the best on his well earnt retirement.”
A video of his final moments can be found on our Harpur Shopping Centre Facebook page where we will also be showcasing our photos, we gifted him as a keepsake book. If you would like to send personal well wishes or share your memories of how he touched your life, please use our social media pages and we will make sure he gets your messages.
For more information visit the website: www.harpurcentre.co.uk/offerswhats-on, or visit www.facebook.co.uk/harpurshoppingcentre, follow us on Twitter @HarpurCentre and follow us on Instagram @Harpur_Centre.