Three people working for SK Chilled Foods are celebrating 75 years of service between them.

Karen Downing, Billa Singh and Martyn Grant all joined the company in 1997.

The trio were each presented with a bouquet of flowers and £500 worth of Marks and Spencer vouchers to recognise their long service to the company.

Karen joined the company, which was then known as Savoury Kitchens, straight from school on a youth training scheme (YTS), earning £17.50 a week.

When an internal vacancy arose, Karen got the job processing orders, the first of a number of progressions in the accounts department culminating in the position she now holds as SK’s Credit Controller.

It wasn’t just Karen’s career that blossomed because she met her husband, Jason Downing, when he was working in the SK spice room, and they have been married now for 20 years.

“When we are in a supermarket, I can’t help spotting our products. I ask Jason if he made a certain one and he just rolls his eyes at me,” she jokes.

“The company has grown over the years, and I think the secret is to employ good people and keep hold of them. I have never had any reason to be unhappy at SK. I have job security, work with a great team and we all get on well – so why would I want to leave?”

Billa was working for another company when they were acquired by SK and says he was “in between jobs” and not expecting there to be long. Flash forward and he has now also celebrated 25 years with SK.

He started on a line in a factory folding samosas and went through rapid promotions before reaching his current senior role as Site Production Manager. Now, he helps oversee the running of SK sites in Middlesbrough, making sure the company is hitting (and often exceeding) targets for quality and efficiency.

Billa says: “SK have always treated me well and shown me respect, so I could not have asked for anything more. It is a good company to work for and I am good example that you can progress to senior positions.”

Alan Thorpe, Managing Director at SK Chilled Foods, said: “I would like to congratulate Karen, Billa and Martyn on their long service and the pivotal part they have played in the growth and success of SK Foods over the last 25 years.”

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