Munton’s lab man retires after 50 years of cycling to work each day

Keith Riches, laboratory team leader at Muntons, is retiring after 50 years. He travels to work from Stowupland on his bike every day. 



PICTURE: Mecha Morton
Keith Riches, laboratory team leader at Muntons, is retiring after 50 years. He travels to work from Stowupland on his bike every day. PICTURE: Mecha Morton
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A man who has clocked up half a century working at Muntons in Stowmarket has retired after cycling to and from work each day.

Keih Riches’ pedal power has seen him cycle from his Trinity Walk home in Stowupland to the maltings factory every day, walking when the weather was too inclement.

He started work on April 3 1967 at a time when Engelbert Humperdinck was topping the charts with ‘Release me,’ and it was still two years before Man walked on the moon and Concorde made its maiden flight.

Keith’s starting salary was £4 10/- per week - £4.50 in today’s money. Then a Mars bar cost less than 3p and the average cost of a house was less than £3,000.

He began work as a lab assistant in the company’s laboratory, washing up, collecting samples and doing small tests. He gradually worked his way up and has now retired as quality control laboratory team leader.

He said: “I never thought of it as a job for life and it doesn’t seem like 50 years. I was quite happy here and never saw any reason to leave.

“I’ll miss the staff. The people here are brilliant. They are friendly and there is a very nice atmosphere to work in. Everybody remarks on how relaxed the people are. They get on with the job but in a nice relaxed way.”

Over the years the work has changed as the company expanded and testing has become more sophisticated. The company, which produces malt extract, now has a centre of excellence for development projects and the lab now tests barley and malt samples for both its Stowmarket plant and the plant at Bridlington.

Keith says he has no plans at the moment but will wait to see what happens and meanwhile enjoy his garden and record collection.

Nigel Davies, manufacturing and sustainability director, said: “Keith’s achievement is remarkable. He has amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience that he has been able to use to guide our analytical performance to a high level. His cycling to work is well known and in my estimation Keith has in his 50 years ridden the equivalent of four times around the world just coming to and from work! We wish him a very long, happy and enjoyable retirement”.