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Crane veteran retires

Long term crane man Richard Breedon has retired from Ainscough Crane Hire after 45 years.

Breedon originally joined JD White in 1976, when he was just 22, starting out as a fitter/service engineer at the company’s Stockton depot. He began by helping rig and repair the company’s NCK crawler cranes but before long was working on a full range of different cranes from manufacturers such as Jones, Lorrain, Iron Fairy, Bantam, Coles, Smiths, Kato, Grove, and later Liebherr and Tadano as well as GCI mobile tower cranes.
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(L-R) Ainscough’s Graham Weights with Richard Breedon and Mark James

JD White was owned by BET which acquired Grayston Crane Hire in the early 1980s and merged the two companies to become Grayston White. Then in 1985 BET made a hostile takeover bid for Sparrows Crane Hire which it acquired and merged with the others to create Grayston White and Sparrow - or GWS as it became known.

Breedon carried on adding to his skills and experience all the way through these substantial changes and disruption at the company. Then in 1996, BET was acquired by Rentokil, which rebranded the crane and platform rental business as Initial GWS. Three years later it decided that these were not businesses it knew anything about so PTP was sold to Loxam, the crawler crane fleet went to Weldex and in late 2000 the GWS mobile crane division was acquired by Ainscough Crane Hire.
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One of JD White's NCK Rapier lattice crawler cranes

Breedon stayed in role working with mobile cranes to become an Ainscough employee. He then trained as become a slinger/signaller and crane operator, and later on a lift supervisor and CPCS Appointed Person. In 2005 he became workshop supervisor at the company’s refurbishment division in Stockton, responsible for restoring older cranes to former glories. Another key responsibility was to mentor many of the new arrivals.

Speaking of his long career Breedon, now 68, said: “I left school and began working as a mechanic on trucks and other vehicles. But my uncle was a crane operator and he’s the one who really got me hooked on these big, impressive machines. When I first started, we had 78 cranes running out of the Stockton depot. In the early years, it was all mechanical cranes, now they’re highly technical and computer based, with the computer systems controlling everything down to the driver’s heated seat.”
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A GCI mobile tower crane

“It’s funny that it was a family member who got me started in this career because the team has always had family feel to it. I’d start every morning in the break room with the other engineers, chatting about the weekend and planning the jobs for that day. I supervised for a lot of the fitters, and I spent a lot of my time guiding them through the role and making sure they were being well looked after by the rest of the team.”

Maintenance supervisor Gregg Atkinson added: “Richard’s knowledge and experience was, and is, up there with the very best. I cannot think of a single moment when he has told me ‘I do not know how to do that!’ He has such a contagious drive and positive attitude that has enabled those around him to pull in the same direction and overcome problems. He is always willing to make time for the team and pass on his endless knowledge of mechanical and electrical engineering.”

“I think I speak for the rest of the department when I say Richard’s dry sense of humour could liven up any room. His ‘one liners’ would cause hysterics in the canteen and he will be missed immensely as a genuine, brilliant, kind man. I wish Richard, and his wife, Jill, a long and happy retirement together.”

Breedon plans to enjoy his retirement playing golf and spending more time on his garden.