THE President Elect of Morpeth Rotary Club, Laurie Walker, gave his traditional My Job talk to members and guests at a recent meeting, but agreed it was a little late as he had retired a few months earlier.
His most recent job had involved working with a Chinese company to supply bras to many well known local high street shops.
He demonstrated the complexity of the manufacturing process by holding up a particularly alluring garment and pointing out that there were between 30 and 45 different parts in the construction, many made of different materials.
After leaving school at 16, Laurie had a career spanning 47 years with 30 spent in the clothing industry.
He started as a commercial apprentice with The Metal Box Company and achieved his university degree with them.
Later, he worked with a paint and wallpaper manufacturer where he got interested in design and then fashion.
Before the great British switch to importing most of the clothing sold, he became Managing Director of Jockey, with factories at Team Valley and Rosyth, which is when he moved to Morpeth.
When the switch happened following a change in world trade agreements, he and many of his co-workers lost their jobs and had to find somewhere else to start again in the fashion industry, or start new careers.
The overseas company that Laurie worked with was progressive and well organised and grew from a workforce of 2,500 to 20,000 during his time with them.
His final remarks were that sections of the industry which used to boast that 95 percent of their products were British made now have 95 per cent of their products imported and Britain has lost the skills and infrastructure that made it a leader in the international industry.
On a positive note, he had great respect for many of the workers in developing countries who often were intelligent and skilled and worked hard and long, providing a high standard of competition.